Miniaturization of satellites
Miniaturization of electronics has made it possible to make modern gadgets, and now the shrinking and standardization of components make it possible to make very small satellites, such as CubeSat, a cube with sides of about ten centimeters. The satellites weigh 1,33 kg consisting of electronic components and fuel.
The CubeSat specifications pursue the following purposes: structural simplification of satellites; sending cheap products into space; the use of fuel from propulsion vessels instead of the use of individual launchers; defining price rules for the use of dedicated quick-launch thrusters (Pico-Satellite Orbital Deployer catapults).
In 2019, about 2.000 satellites orbited the Earth. Today (2021) there are more than 6.000. As far as 2030 it is estimated that they will be about 50.000.
How did the space become profitable?
In 2011, the program NASA Space Shuttle was withdrawn after a series of manned spaceflight flights since 1981, marking the end of 30 years of rocket use. The program used space shuttles as well Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavor.
The reusable shuttle was supposed to make space travel accessible, but slow evolution, tragic accidents and high costs have affected this purpose.
But the dream was not forgotten. In July 2021, after 17 years and with a billion dollars invested, Richard Branson made the first suborbital flight aboard the ship SpaceShipTwo (Virgin Galactic).
He overtook Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, with 11 days. The purpose of the flight laid the foundations of space tourism.
According to Virgin Galactic, over 600 seats of $ 250 each were reserved of people who want to reach space in the future. The company intends to launch two additional flights before starting commercial service in 2022.
What do specialists think about space tourism?
Specialists believe that space tourism is a transformational factor and will become a common activity during our lives. The potentials are huge in this sector.
It could encourage new options to travel very long distances, for example, a Sydney - Tokyo flight could take much less. Then in space, more and more destinations could be developed, places where people can land and operate various activities. In this context, Musk's plans to colonize Mars no longer seem so SF.