Private Spaceflight in 2022

2021 was an extraordinary year for private spaceflight with over 20 private individuals flying to space on four different spacecraft. In this blog, I will take a look back at the achievements of 2021, as well a look forward to what we can expect from 2022.

MZ onboard the International Space Station. Credit: Yusaku Maezawa

Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic started things off, becoming the first private company to fly passengers to suborbital space when they launched on July 11, 2021. Richard Branson was accompanied by three Virgin Galactic staff members on the flight that reached 86kms above Earth, allowing them to float in weightlessness for a few minutes.

Inaugural flight of Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity. Credit: Virgin Galactic

Blue Origin

Virgin upstaged Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin by flying first, but Blue Origin certainly came out the better by the end of the year, completing a total of three flights, with 14 passengers.

Blue Origin New Shepard Rocket Launch. Credit: Blue Origin

SpaceX

September saw the first private orbital launch of the year with the Inspiration4 Mission. Conducted on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft the crew of four spent three days orbiting the Earth enjoying a spectacular views through the added dome window. The mission was paid for by Jared Isaacman, the billionaire founder of Shift4 payments and raised over $200m for St. Judes’ Children’s Hospital.

Crew of Inspiration4 Mission. Credit: Inspiration4

Space Adventures

The year ended in what I consider to be the highlight. MZ and Yozo Hirano flew on a Space Adventures arranged flight to the International Space Station. They stayed on board for 11 days, completing the majority of a list of “100 things to do in space” suggested by members of the public, recording videos of their experiences and sharing them on YouTube.

MZ onboard the International Space Station. Credit: Yusaku Maezawa

2022

2022 promises to be an equally busy year, with a number of private spaceflights planned, and new vehicles continuing their development:

Blue Origin could fly six or more suborbital flight this year, with the first scheduled for late March.

In April, three private astronauts will fly on the SpaceX Dragon to the International Space Station.

The month of May should see the Boeing Starliner making a second attempt at an un-crewed demonstration mission to the International Space Station. If successful Boeing hope to launch with crew for the first time before the end of the year.

The enormous SpaceX Starship may well complete it’s first un-crewed orbital flight as well this year, if they are able to clear a few regulatory and technical hurdles.

And Virgin Galactic should attempt another flight or two, this time with paying passengers.

SpaceX Starship test stand. Credit: Nic Ansuini

2021 was a great year, and 2022 is shaping up to be good too. The era of private spaceflight is truly here! Be a part of it and contact us.

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