Space Planes and Space Tourism
The space age is now a half-century old. Over the past fifty years, since the launch of Sputnik, in October 1957 there have been remarkable achievements. Astronauts have gone to the Moon and returned. The Hubble and Chandra Telescopes have discovered new secrets of the Universe at its most remote reaches. The International Space Station has been deployed and new rockets are being built to allow longer-term exploration of space.

For decades, the advancement in space technology and space exploration has been spearheaded by the official national space agencies. The National Space and Astronautics Administration (NASA) in the United States, the European Space Agency (ESA), the French Space Agency (CNES), the German Space Agency (DLR), the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos), the Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA), the Chinese Space Agency, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), the Brazil Space Agency (INPE) and other governmental space agencies.

Perhaps the most significant development in space activities in the last few years, however, has been the emergence of private enterprise as an important stimulant to the growth of a new “space tourism” business and the emergence of space commercialization as a serious business enterprise. A number of high profile billionaire entrepreneurs are now bankrolling many of these new commercial space businesses. Notable individuals include Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder, Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic and now head of Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal and now head of Space X , Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com and now head of Blue Origin, and James Benson, computer entrepreneur, who has started not only SpaceDev but now the Benson Space Corporation.  These billionaire backers of new space commercialization initiatives, and others of their ilk, have become trailblazers in this remarkable new industry where the sky is no longer the limit.

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