Humans have dreamed about spaceflight since antiquity. The Chinese used rockets for ceremonial and military purposes centuries ago, but only in the latter half of the 20th century were rockets developed that were powerful enough to overcome the force of gravity to reach orbital velocities that could open space to human exploration.
As often happens in science, the earliest practical work on rocket engines designed for spaceflight occurred simultaneously during the early 20th century in three countries by three key scientists: in Russia, by Konstantin Tsiolkovski; in the United States, by Robert Goddard; and in Germany, by Hermann Oberth.
In the 1930s and 1940s Nazi Germany saw the possibilities of using long-distance rockets as weapons. Late in World War II, London was attacked by 200-mile-range V-2 missiles, which arched 60 miles high over the English Channel at more than 3,500 miles per hour.
After World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union created their own missile programs. On October 4, 1957, the Soviets launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, into space. Four years later on April 12, 1961, Russian Lt. Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit Earth in Vostok 1. His flight lasted 108 minutes, and Gagarin reached an altitude of 327 kilometers (about 202 miles).
The first U.S. satellite, Explorer 1, went into orbit on January 31, 1958. In 1961 Alan Shepard became the first American to fly into space. On February 20, 1962, John Glenn’s historic flight made him the first American to orbit Earth.
On July 20, 1969, Astronaut Neil Armstrong took “a giant step for mankind” as he stepped onto the moon. Six Apollo missions were made to explore the moon between 1969 and 1972.
Blue Origin isn’t alone in attempting to break into the space tourism market — SpaceX, Orion Span, and Axiom Space are just a few of the other companies vying to be the pioneers of commercial space tourism.
The idea that the average person would some day travel in space has been an age long dream. Being able to travel by spacecraft seems closer to reality because of the Space Station "Mir", already in orbit since February, 1986. There are also plans to operate the Space Station "Freedom" by 1998. Our imagination has also been stimulated by future life styles seen in science fiction movies and other media.
The desire to travel is rapidly expanding reflecting economic development and higher living standards. As a result, the travel industry has expanded into a giant market worth $500 billion. There is even a prediction that, by the end of the next century, tourism will be the world's largest industry.
An executive for Blue Origin says the aerospace company will begin selling tickets for suborbital space flights in 2019, according to a report by Space News. Senior Vice President Rob Meyerson delivered the news during a keynote speech at Amazon Web Services Public Sector Summit in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. The flights will be aboard New Shepard, a rocket Blue Origin first started testing in 2015. Those tests will soon include passengers, according to Meyerson.
Blue Origin isn’t the first company to announce the sale of tickets — Virgin Galactic began selling tickets back in 2013 at $200,000 per ticket (later raised to $250,000); as of May 2017, 650 people had put down deposits. Five years later, though, and those flights haven’t yet happened.
Our assessment is that as we’ve seen from Virgin Galactic, selling tickets isn’t necessarily an indication that a company is just about ready for take off. Still, we feel that if Blue Origin is ready to test New Shepard with passengers aboard, it must be feeling pretty confident about the spacecraft. We believe that this means the company might just be the first to launch us into the era of commercial space travel.