Private space companies are gearing up for their most active year yet as they work to create a space tourism market and exploit resources beyond the planet. At this year’s Explorers Club event, held in New York City, 13 commercial space companies gathered to present their progress as well as what lies ahead. “Lauren De Niro Pipher, head of astronaut relations at Virgin Galactic, revealed that the company’s founder plans to fly with his family aboard the Virgin GalacticSpaceShipTwo rocket plane in November or December of this year.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Another company, Planetary Resources, made waves by announcing its plan to begin satellite launches in order to prospect for valuable resources on asteroids outside of Earth’s orbit. Among the treasured resources is water, which could be used by future spacecraft as propellant (after splitting the water into oxygen and hydrogen). Proponents of commercial space activity hope that as more people become space tourists, the level of interest in space exploration will rise generally, resulting in greater public funding for space ventures.