Once solely the dream of astronauts with years of intense training and conditioning under their belts, interplanetary travel is now entering the realm of feasibility for average citizens. Many high-profile innovators have entered the new space race, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who created his own commercial space aeronautics initiative, Blue Origin, in part to bring these ideas out of the stuff of fantasy. Bezos has even gone so far as to claim that, “One day all rockets will have landing gear.” Meaning, at some point soon, we—or at least our Amazon goodies?—will all be traveling in space ships with the same ease and regularity as passenger airplanes, and discovering a whole new spin on the term world traveler.
So: when, where, why, what, and how? And which space cowboy is coming out ahead of the pack? For sheer hubris, we’d have to pick Elon Musk, whose SpaceX is primed for its first “lunar tourism” mission as early as 2023.
Sometime during that year, SpaceX will likely realize the #dearMoon project, a collaborative effort with Japanese art collector and businessman Yusaku Maezawa. The planned 6-day flight will circumnavigate the moon, and Maezawa plans to invite several artists to join him and the SpaceX crew members on the jaunt, in the hope that the journey will conjure the creation of new space-inspired art. So far, however, Yusaku has invited only one individual: First Man and La La Land film director Damien Chazelle, who has yet to accept. Artists, maybe it’s time to enter your “lunar” artistic phase?
There are other irons in the intergalactic fire, including SpaceX’s even more daring mission to Mars, which is slowly inching toward reality. 2022 is the year many predict that a SpaceX ship will actually reach Mars, with humans beginning to colonize the planet as early as 2024. That’s just 5 years from now. While it may not be the space travel equivalent of an all-amenities-included Caribbean resort—in order to return to Earth, the first travelers will need to build a propellant production plant to create methane and liquid oxygen to fuel the ship—the trip will certainly up one’s cool cred exponentially. If you survive. Musk has famously stated that, “people will probably die” in the initial creation of the Mars colonies, but that they will ultimately be safe. His grand vision includes Earthly comforts like a pizza place, though those may take a few decades to spring up.
Musk isn’t the only one with eyes on the red planet: the United Arab Emirates wants to create a 600,000-person Martian city by 2117, which is doable, according to astrobiologist Lewis Dartnell, who was quoted in Inverse claiming that, “While the first human mission to land on Mars will likely take place in the next two decades, it will probably be more like 50-100 years before substantial numbers of people have moved to Mars to live in self-sustaining towns.”
And while Musk is probably the most fascinating personality in contemporary space pioneering, others continue to move steadily forward in their missions, including Jeff Bezos, as his Blue Origin recently teamed up with NASA to upgrade Test Stand 4670 at the Marshall Space Flight Center—the launch pad that shot Armstrong and Aldrin to the moon. Built in 1965, the stand hasn’t been used for testing since 1998, so its modernization by Blue Origin is significant. And as Bezos lays claim to successfully launching rockets that travel to space and return in sound condition, fit for relaunch, his collaboration with NASA spells even further innovation in this sector.
Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson isn’t far behind, either. To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing, Branson aims to be on board the first manned Virgin Galactic space flight sometime this year. As it stands, hundreds of customers have already signed up for brief suborbital Virgin Galactic space flights, which cost $250,000 per person.
So, the only thing left to do is wait until one of these company’s interplanetary flight plans are deemed space-worthy. While you’re dreaming, take a peek at Arlo Skye’s new Space Collection, inspired by our soon-to-be epic adventures in the outer realms…