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Private spaceflight

Spaceflight not paid for by a government agency / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Private spaceflight refers to spaceflight developments that are not conducted by a government agency, such as NASA or ESA.

A juxtaposition of private (left) and public (right) spaceflight. From Kennedy Space Center LC-39, taken on April 6, 2022.
Left: SpaceX, with Falcon 9 for Axiom Mission 1
Right: NASA, with Space Launch System for Artemis 1

During the early decades of the Space Age, the government space agencies of the Soviet Union and United States pioneered space technology in collaboration with affiliated design bureaus in the USSR and private companies in the US. They entirely funded both the development of new spaceflight technologies and the operational costs of spaceflight. Following a similar model of space technology development, the European Space Agency was formed in 1975.[1] Arianespace, born out of ESA's independent spaceflight efforts, became the world's first commercial launch service provider in the early 1980s.[2][3] Subsequently, large defense contractors began to develop and operate space launch systems, which were derived from government rockets.

Private spaceflight in Earth orbit includes communications satellites, satellite television, satellite radio, astronaut transport and sub-orbital and orbital space tourism. In the United States, the FAA has created a new certification called Commercial Astronaut, a new occupation.[1]

In the 2000s, entrepreneurs began designing—and by the 2010s, deploying—space systems competitive to the governmental systems[4][5] of the early decades of the space age.[6][7]:7 These new offerings have brought about significant market competition in space launch services after 2010 that had not been present previously, principally through the reduction of the cost of space launch and the availability of more space launch capacity.[8]

Private spaceflight accomplishments to date include flying suborbital spaceplanes (SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo), launching orbital rockets, flying two orbital expandable test modules (Genesis I and II). On the opposite, launching astronauts to the International Space Station and certain satellite launches are performed on behalf of and financed by government agencies.

Planned private spaceflights beyond Earth orbit include personal spaceflights around the Moon.[1] Two private orbital habitat prototypes are already in Earth orbit, with larger versions to follow.[9] Planned private spaceflights beyond Earth orbit include solar sailing prototypes (LightSail-3).

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