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Close encounters of the space race kind

06 October 2022

Close encounters of the space race kind

Ever since the ancient Greeks started to group constellations and form ancient cosmology theories thousands of years ago, humans have always been obsessed with exploring the final frontier.

However, it is only over the past 80 years that our continuous thirst for exploration has really taken off and, as we celebrate National Space Week, it looks like the moon age daydream is slowly becoming a reality.

With the likes of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson all fighting it out to be the world’s next rocket-man and finally make space an odyssey we all have access to, at, we decided to pose the question: how far away are we from finally blasting to infinity and beyond?

A long time ago, in an entrepreneurs' head far, far away....

While most of us think that the current billionaire space race is a more recent development, the foundations were actually laid back in the 1980s through American entrepreneur, Peter Diamandis.

Disillusioned at the state of orbital space development, Diamandis set up the X-Prize which encouraged private sector innovators to spark up their space buds and lead the way in changing the course of the space tourism market.

Up stepped Paul Allen, Bill Gates’ childhood friend who helped begin the microcomputer revolution back in the 1970s. It was Allen’s creation of the ‘Scaled Composites Tier One’ which then opened the blast doors for more billionaires to jump on board.

One small step for man, three giant wallets with bucket loads of cash for mankind...

Initially, Bezos and Musk, with their Blue Origin and Space X, were the first big billionaires to step up to the launch pad in 2000. Then Branson’s Virgin Empire entered the stratosphere with Virgin Galactic being formed in 2004. The race was officially on.

Since setting up their initial battle stations, it has taken all three around 20 years to get to a stage where they were able to make a successful commercial space flight. While this may not be at the speed of light hoped for by many, these significant milestones meant that the general population were finally one step closer to reaching space.

A New Hope?

So, does this mean we are now ready to jet off to the far reaches of the galaxy?

Well, the simple answer is yes – if you have very deep pockets. Prices to get on board one of these commercial flights will seem distant for the majority of mankind: three men have paid $55 million each to take part in a 10-day trip aboard SpaceX to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic prices start at a less eye-watering $250,000 and Blue Origin prices remain anonymous with Jeff Bezos deciding to let the market decide by auctioning off initial tickets.

So, dreams of interstellar adventure are closer for only a small minority. But for most of us, until prices decline, it seems our hopes have hit a wall-E and exploring space will continue to remain alien to us.

While becoming a Guardian of the Galaxy is still some years away, you can still get closer into orbit than most by taking up one of the range of Flying Experiences we currently have available to book through Gift Vouchers at

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