Space enthusiasts hope new Space Race boosts economy, tourism

Andrew Epp, Bilingual Editor

As we race into a new decade, the idea of space travel continuously follows. Once a novelty, and now a reality, spaceflight has seen a resurgence in popularity as private companies lead the charge in the new Space Race. 

Ever since the Challenger tragedy of 1982, in which a failure in the O-rings caused an explosion killing all crew members aboard, the push to expand space travel has been on pause. Even before that, after the first Moon landing made by Apollo 11 in 1969, spaceflight lost the attention of the public eye. Ideas for Moon colonies, larger rockets and early interplanetary space ships never saw the light of day, thanks to a combination of budget cuts, technology and, yes, even attention. 

However, in the present, commercial spaceflight has become a growing reality. Just this summer, Virgin Galactic launched its record-breaking flight containing the first set of space tourists with its founder Richard Brandson, and on its heels Blue Origin launched its maiden flight containing another set of space tourists and the company’s founder and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Even more recently, on Sept. 15, 2021, SpaceX entered the competition, sending a crew of space tourists into geosynchronous orbit for an excess of two days.  

So what do we make of this? After looking at the past history of aviation, I can only say that we are looking at the dawn of a new chapter in aviation and space travel. It is my current belief that this new race to commercialize space travel will have long-lasting positive effects on the economy and the job market. We saw this in the history of aviation, as well, with the introduction of the Boeing 747 that helped make air travel more accessible to the middle class in 1989 when it became commercially accessible. Furthermore, with this push to expand our horizons into space we are seeing a boom in the economy caused by this innovation. Additionally, this push by these space travel pioneers will help to stimulate the economy and serve to open up new jobs, modernizing an industry that has stayed otherwise unchanged since the introduction of the modern day jumbo jet. 

However, skeptics and critics alike think that the boom in space travel will be short-lived and increasingly dangerous, citing the Virgin Galactic crash of 2014. While I acknowledge this risk, I firmly believe that nothing is gained without risk. Furthermore, knowledge is gained through failure and used to improve safety and an overall better future. 

With the renewed emergence and growing popularity of aerospace travel and exploration, these are nothing short of exciting times.