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Nearly 1,000 people and organizations have won Nobel Prizes since 1901. And according to Forbes, the world counted 2,668 billionaires in 2022. Yet in late 2021, Dylan Taylor became just the 606th person to go to space.
This means that humans are more likely to become billionaires or win Nobel Prizes than they are to visit space. For now.
“That is going to change,” Taylor said. “I think if you pick any room of 100 people in any city over the next 5-6 years, someone in that room will know an astronaut.”
The Harvard Business Review announced in 2021 that “the commercial space age is here,” an era for which Tayor has been an advocate and guide. Taylor, chairman and CEO of Voyager Space, predicts that the growing commercial space market will produce more astronauts by 2025 than during any other decade. The space entrepreneur and Blue Origin citizen astronaut expects more than 100 new astronauts to follow him across the Kármán Line over the next three years and into a new cosmic economy.
Taylor, who flew aboard Blue Origin’s third human spaceflight in December 2021, always believed in the transformational power of space. Though he spent just 11 minutes — about three of them weightless — aboard NS-19, Taylor returned to Earth even more convinced.
“It’s not only transformational but penetrative,” Taylor told author, Frank White. “Even if you have some kind of detox and say, ‘space is bad,’ for some reason, I don’t think you could remove it from your core. It’s such a part of your psyche that I don’t think you could reverse the process.”
Beyond his acknowledged romanticism, Dylan Taylor regards space as an economic frontier with thrilling potential. Companies such as Blue Origin, Space X, and Virgin Galactic have unlocked commercial space travel by achieving the once-daunting through incremental steps: private investment, reusable rockets, and a roar of start-up research. They even joined an 18- and 82-year-old on a suborbital flight.
Commercial space flight is drawing more entrepreneurial adventurers to this frontier economy. Space Adventures, for instance, has facilitated private-citizen visits to the International Space Station — for an estimated $50 million.
Space Perspective is booking travelers aboard a high-altitude balloon hoisting a “Space Lounge” with drinks, a restroom, and wifi. Orbite offers ground training for those preparing to visit (or perhaps live and work) in space.
These adventures are pricey (Virgin Galactic began selling tickets for $450,000) but will expand their customer base as companies lower costs through rocket reusability and new fuels. Until then, Taylor said, people should recalculate the suggestion that space appeals only to the rich.
“Why care about a bunch of rich early entrants going to space? It’s a valid question,” Taylor said. “Because it stimulates interest. Space funding is based on public sentiment and national security assessments. Public sentiment matters. To the extent we can promote space and space’s power to transform us all, it helps us all.”
Voyager Space is among several companies building private-enterprise space stations devoted to science, commerce, and tourism. The company intends to have Starlab operational before the ISS is decommissioned. Axiom Space is constructing a station with plans to launch its first section into low.
Anticipating the continued growth of space travel and commerce, NASA announced its commercial LEO development plan in 2019. As the U.S. agency returns to the Moon via the Artemis program, it has developed a series of short- and long-term initiatives that eventually will transfer LEO operations to the private sector.
“A robust and competitive low-Earth economy is vital to continued progress in space,” NASA reported.
This means more opportunities for everyone to benefit from commercial space travel. Imagine flying around the Moon. The dearMoon mission aboard SpaceX’s Starship has plans to take civilians in 2023. And imagine boarding a rocket, instead of a plane, for the 32-minute trip from Los Angeles to Paris. SpaceX says it will happen.
Ultimately, Taylor said, commercial space travel will leverage growing demand, lower costs, and private investment to scale into what Morgan Stanley projects as a $1 trillion industry. That will inspire a new generation of space enthusiasts and STEM experts, leading humankind into a stellar future.
Imagine a time when space becomes our industrial and manufacturing sector and Earth transforms into a global park.
“The idea is, how do we engender in our young people a sense of hope that they can be part of this space revolution that we’re going through?” says Dylan Taylor. “And that anybody can go to space. I believe in the life-changing powers of space.”