Commercial space travel: A decade of broken promises | Space X, Virgin Galactic and space tourism

Charlotte Jee
Charlotte Jee

Charlotte Jee

Charlotte is Techworld editor. She joined as senior reporter in April 2014 having previously worked as assistant editor at Government Computing.

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Since Yuri Gagarin manned the first ever human space flight in 1961, a mere 550 people have been into space.

It has been an experience reserved for a dedicated, qualified few astronauts, plus seven individuals lucky enough to have up to $40 million to spare for the privilege.

A few companies are trying to change that by launching ‘affordable’ flights: SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Space Adventures are three of the most notable of about 20 contenders.

Richard Branson’s company Virgin Galactic recently promised it will finally start commercial flights in 2016.

However you’d be excused for feeling sceptical. Only one company (Space Adventures) has ever sent paying passengers into space. And the last flight was six years ago in 2009.

Commercial space travel does seem to be on the horizon – but the past decade seems to be mainly one of over-hype and under-delivery. Here are just a few of the times companies have promised – and failed – to deliver commercial space travel.

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