Branson

The Next Hot Tourist Destination: Mars

The burgeoning commercial space industry has made major advances since the end of the Cold War, benefiting from the increased willingness of the governments of the United States and Russia to open up space to commercial enterprises.

The following events represent key moments in the biography of the commercial space industry:

The Communications Satellite Act of 1962 opened the way for the first commercial communications satellites. 

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia paved the way for space privatization. In 1992, a private spaceflight called Space Flight Europe-America 500 was launched as a joint effort by the Russian Foundation for Social Inventions and the rocket company Photon. 

Despite criticism from NASA, American businessman Dennis Tito became the first space tourist in 2001 when he paid the Russian Federal Space Agency $20 million for a trip to the International Space Station.

In 2004SpaceShipOne became the first manned private spaceflight and won the $10 million Ansari X Prize, which was set up to encourage innovation in the private space industry. 

Sir Richard Branson and Burt Rutan formed a joint venture called The Spaceship Company in 2005 with the goal of "manufacturing the world's first fleet of launch aircraft and commercial spaceships."

On February 1, 2010, President Barack Obama announced in a major space policy speech that NASA would get out of the business of flying astronauts from Earth to orbit. 

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