Ashlee Vance reports on a New Zealand company that has built its own space-plane prototype. Dawn Aerospace hopes to establish a cheap, quick way to transport objects into orbit, and in doing so transform the commercialization of space.

For decades, humans have been trying to make a plane that can reach space and return to Earth by way of a runway. Space shuttles aside, only now is the dawn of the space plane finally upon us.

While terrestrial tourism has been hit hard due to the pandemic, entrepreneurs and visionaries have their eyes cast spaceward. 

Space tourism has been, almost, nonexistent in the past, but Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and Blue Origin are looking to change that.

However, accessibility to space tourism remains limited to the richest of the rich, with ticket prices ranging from hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions.

Development of these space tourism programs is costing these companies billions and each has a different reason for pursuing this, as of yet, unproven market.

Insane Curiosity explores Elon Musk’s plans for colonizing Mars.

Elon Musk is a man on a mission, and that mission is to get humanity not just to Mars, but to get them to Mars in this decade. This is why he built his own space organization in SpaceX, to do what NASA (at the time) couldn’t do, inspire the need to be in space again. And he has succeeded, and now, SpaceX is not only one of the leading places in all space travel designs and plans, but they are indeed looking to be the group to send a person to Mars. But the plans go beyond that, he doesn’t just want to land a person on the surface of Mars and say he’s done (which is what we did with the moon if you really think about it), but he wants to set up a colony there.

Stephen Petranek explains why colonizing Mars may be sooner than you’d think in this TED Talk.

It sounds like science fiction, but journalist Stephen Petranek considers it fact: within 20 years, humans will live on Mars. In this provocative talk, Petranek makes the case that humans will become a spacefaring species and describes in fascinating detail how we’ll make Mars our next home. “Humans will survive no matter what happens on Earth,” Petranek says. “We will never be the last of our kind.” 

In the middle of the New Mexico desert lies Spaceport America, a glittering, alien structure advertised as the very first purpose-built commercial spaceport.

It’s home to Virgin Galactic, a space startup that promises to send tourists into orbit as early as next year.

But even if that milestone happens, it will follow years of delays, setbacks, and even tragedy. Local residents in the nearby town of Truth or Consequences were told to expect big things when New Mexico joined the private space economy, but many now wonder if the dream of a space industry will ever materialize. 

Verge Science explores.

Dava Newman is the Apollo Program professor of AeroAstro at MIT and the former Deputy Administrator of NASA and has been a principal investigator on four spaceflight missions. Her research interests are in aerospace biomedical engineering, investigating human performance in varying gravity environments.

This conversation is part of the Artificial Intelligence podcast by Lex Fridman