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Supersonic Jets Expected to Enter the Commercial Market, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

SpaceX hopes to send two tourists around the moon and back in the relatively near future; but bold visions for the future are standard for SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who also founded Tesla Motors.  In September 2018, Japanese e-commerce entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa announced that he will be SpaceX’s first space tourist.  The flight around the moon is planned as early as 2023, and Maezawa, well known as a booster of the arts, hopes to take six to eight artists along with him.
Meanwhile, Boeing’s CST-100 “Starliner” is intended to fly astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).  The CST-100 capsule is propelled by a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.  The company launched the unmanned capsule in December 2019, but it suffered an in-flight glitch that stranded it in an unplanned orbit.  The capsule was brought down safely, and the company hoped to attempt another flight in 2020.  America has been relying on Russian spacecraft to get to the ISS for years, since the end of the Space Shuttle program at NASA.
Sierra Nevada Corp. (www.sncorp.com ) is working on a winged vehicle called the Dream Chaser that will also fly on an Atlas 5 rocket.  The craft would launch vertically, but land horizontally on conventional runways, much like the Space Shuttle.  NASA selected the Dream Chaser to provide cargo delivery, return and disposal service for the ISS, with a minimum of six missions between 2019 and 2024.
Virgin Galactic (which is owned by Sir Richard Branson 's UK-based Virgin Group and UAE-based aabar Investments PJS) hopes to become the world's first commercial space passenger line.  Its VSS Unity (formerly referred to as SpaceShipTwo) space craft and a related launch vehicle have been developed by Mojave-based Scaled Composites, which was founded by famed aircraft innovator Burt Rutan.  In December 2018, VSS Unity attained an altitude of 271,000 feet (51.4 miles) in a test flight, successfully cruising along the edge of space.  Another successful flight was made in February 2019, and operations have moved to Spaceport America in New Mexico in early 2020.
Scaled Composites initially developed SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 claimed the $10 million Ansari X Prize as the world's first privately-developed manned spacecraft.  Virgin Galactic's new vehicles share much of the same basic design as this 2004 prize-winner, but are built to carry six passengers, or the equivalent scientific research payload, on sub-orbital space flights, allowing an out-of-the-seat, zero-gravity experience while offering views of the planet from the black sky of space for tourist astronauts, as well as a unique microgravity platform for researchers.  Virgin Galactic commercial operations are based at Spaceport America in New Mexico, which was built with substantial funding from the State of New Mexico.
VSS Unity is 60 feet long and carries a passenger cabin which is 90 inches in diameter, similar to the size of a business jet.  The launch vehicle is capable of carrying a 35,000-pound payload to about 50,000 feet in elevation.  Unity is then released, and its own rocket motor propels it to even greater height.  Virgin Galactic is also developing an orbital launch vehicle for small satellites. 
Hundreds of would-be astronauts have sent deposits toward future flights which will cost at least $250,000 per person.  Prior to flight, passengers will go through a two or three-day training program.  The weightless part of their flight experience will last about six minutes.
Unfortunately, in October 2014, a tragic crash occurred during a test flight of SpaceShipTwo over California’s Mojave Desert.  It was using a recently approved engine with a new fuel mixture.  The aircraft was destroyed, while one test pilot was killed, and the other test pilot aboard was injured.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen launched Vulcan Aerospace in April 2015.  The company is headed by the executive director of former Stratolaunch Systems, which initially developed a giant launch vehicle that will have a wingspan of 385 feet.  The Stratolaunch air-launch platform is a collaboration between Scaled Composites and an established rocket manufacturer called Orbital Sciences.
Blue Origin, founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in 2000, hopes to send tourists into space.  Customers will take 11-minute rides in fully-automated reusable capsules, with views of the Earth from the edge of space.  The firm launched its New Shepherd 2.0 rocket and capsule carrying a dummy astronaut in April 2018, reaching its highest altitude to date (351,000 feet or 66 miles) before landing safely.


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