By Gaurav Pradhan
Virgin Galactic started with a promise of sending people to Space, with selling in advance 700 tickets, each of around US$ 250,000. Several celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Leanardo DiCaprio, Stephen Hawking are in line with them to travel to space.
The special plane for the test flight, SpaceShipTwo, exploded in mid-air over California on October 31st 2014, resulting in death of one pilot and critical injury to other pilot. It is designed to carry six passengers.
They planned to sell trips, taking passengers 62 miles above Earth, which is the beginning of outer space. They wanted to sell the experience of levitation of outer space for few minutes, and then then hitting the ground. The cost of spaceship was reported to be US$ 500 million. This project is operating under The Spaceship Company, a joint venture between Abu Dhabi’s Investments PJS and Richard Branson.
Company has already raised more than US $ 80 million from early bookings. It has been learned that only a small fraction is refundable.
This accident has pushed the commercialization date from 2015 to a later date which has been undetermined.
But this incident has not decreased the intent of Richard Branson. He has stated, “Space is hard – but worth it. We will persevere and move forward together.”
Is Space Travel worth it?
Despite of the accident, Virgin Galactic still is persistent to try again to reach the space. The question remains – Is it really worth it? Virgin has been a pioneer in Aviation Industry. But many players have also come into this territory. This has pushed Virgin to get into a new and presently niche segment – Commercial Space Travel. This is a possible Blue Ocean Strategy, building resources and capabilities for this domain. This would help reap the early mover benefits in this segment. This is might be looking as a very risky venture at present, but once they make it possible, this will be a gold mine for the company. Competition trying to catch up, they will be able to use it as a Cash Cow by that time. This competitive advantage will stay for a long time, as other companies are yet to look into this segment.
Virgin Galactic is trying to touch the sky, and wishing to take people up there. But presently due to such a catastrophe, we need to see when it becomes a reality ?
(Author is a Management student of IIM Bangalore having an experience in Manufacturing Industry, Follow On Twitter @GauravToYou)
Virgin Galactic Crash – BBC – US & Canada – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-29861259
Virgin Galatic Spaceship Explodes – http://money.cnn.com/2014/10/31/technology/virgin-galactic-spaceship-crash/
How High Will Amazon’s Drones Fly ? – Social Media Trend – https://www.socialmediatrend.in/technology/how-high-will-amazons-drones-fly-2/