The world could almost hear the 8,000 SpaceX employees cheer at the top of their lungs as America once again enter the age of manned space flight. The world watched on TV and via the internet as this brand new chapter in the big adventure of space travel saw SpaceX’s rocket and Crew Dragon roar off and race toward the heavens from the Kennedy Space Center.

The cargo on board the spacecraft were two of NASA’s most seasoned space travelers, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. Bob and Doug as Twitter has hashtag labeled them, are former military pilots who had flown two missions on the Space Shuttle. These men, two astronauts, became the first to orbit from United States soil in nearly a decade.

The battle for supremacy is not only about getting back into manned flight but battling the bombastic budget bloat in costs in order to do so. For example: Did you know that in past America has had to rely on Russia ferrying our astronauts into space? The price per assigned seat? $90 million and it’s a dangerous ride, very uncomfortable seats, and no free peanuts.

Since the 1990s, NASA’s share of federal spending has waned. Space exploration is expensive, but it is a relatively minor line item in the U.S. budget. NASA’s spending peaked at almost 4.5 percent of the federal budget in 1966, declined to 1 percent by 1975, and has gradually fallen to about half a percent in recent years. The U.S. private sector has ramped up investment in space and those making big financial bets are positioning themselves for the future windfall. It’s all about the money. How to save it for the US government, yet make it financially viable to stand up as a company.

Just who is it who is making these financial bets and fantastic feats of innovation focused on financial savings possible for future space travel? Let’s look at the Top 10 Leaders and/or Innovators making this future happen.
From left to right: Bezos, Musk, Pulitzer, Bigelow and Branson

Elon Musk and SpaceX:
Elon did it! His vision became reality, thus his credit is due and it’s a great story of a kid who was bullied for being a nerd. But that nerd is now making the bullies blush with rage as he had racked up billions and billions in financial success. Not only did SpaceX build the most powerful rocket in history, but SpaceX has made reusable rockets not just practical, but routine. The company has made reusability routine, setting the stage for inexpensive spaceflight and routine missions to orbit, the moon, and possibly even Mars.

Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic is vying to fly passengers to space for 20 minutes of weightlessness more than 50 miles high. Branson may have kicked off an achievement that ushers in the age of space tourism in a reusable spacecraft. SpaceShipTwo, (there have been setbacks with timelines recently) is a larger vehicle that could routinely take six passengers and two pilots to the edge of space to experience zero gravity for "several" minutes before landing on a runway.

Robert Bigelow and Bigelow Commercial Space Station
Are building an inflatable space station and it's already deployed inflatable modules on the ISS. Previous concepts of the space station had included multiple modules such as two B330 expandable spacecraft modules as well as a central docking node, propulsion, solar arrays, and attached crew capsules. However, it now appears that each B330 can operate as an independent space station. Attaching a B330 to the International Space Station or flying a B330 alone have been suggested by Robert Bigelow.

The Gateway Foundation
Their 'Von Braun' Space Hotel Idea Is Wild, but some say it could be built by 2025. The Gateway Foundation is a private company developing this "space hotel," and it plans to build what it describes on its website as "the first spaceport." This spaceport, the Von Braun Rotating Space Station, will orbit Earth and will accommodate not only scientific research but also visiting tourists looking to experience life away from our home planet.

The Aerospace Corporation
The Aerospace Corporation has proposed the equivalent of shipping containers for launching small satellites. The company proposes a standard "launch unit" for small satellites that could remake the launch industry. Payload and the astronomical costs to carry payload are anther pain point of the industry. Payload owners need to work closely with launch providers to find room aboard a scheduled launch and "rideshare" on the rocket. If something goes wrong — for example, the primary payload gets scrubbed or the ridesharing small satellite suffers delays which forces it to move to another launch date. Move the date and the accountants go nuts. Why? The financial considerations break the budgets and the complex process has to start all over again.

Jovan Hutton Pulitzer and FLIP
Ventures –practically every single mobile device operating globally use his massive intellectual property portfolio. Remember Q Codes and how you use your mobile to scan to connect? Most consumers use things he invented and patented several times a day and have no idea who he is, but what is his financial prudence contribution to the future of manned space travel? Pulitzer has been focused on health and remote diagnostics for almost 6 years now and his goal is to help the manned mission to Mars have no catastrophic health crisis on board. NASA only monitors the heartbeat of its astronauts.

Now consider this
in total, the trip to Mars would take about 21 months: 9 months to get there, 3 months there, and 9 months to get back. Being able to get to Mars and back requires healthy (and alive) astronauts and the long duration of the trip has numerous health implications for the Mars astronauts, making how to catch health problems before they turn critical paramount. Pulitzer innovated a very simple and cost-effective way to monitor the total health of the astronauts and prevent catastrophic health crisis by heading them off before they happen. The Mars Mission is projected for 2033. Healthwise though, seems NASA would want to catch the “alien infection” before it popped out of a crew member’s chest? Would they not?

Boeing's Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner spacecraft is being developed in collaboration with NASA's Commercial Crew Program. The Starliner was designed to accommodate seven passengers, or a mix of crew and cargo, for missions to low-Earth orbit. For NASA service missions to the International Space Station, it will carry up to four NASA-sponsored crew members and time-critical scientific research. The Starliner has an innovative, weldless structure and is reusable up to 10 times with six-month turnaround time. It also features wireless internet and tablet technology for crew interfaces.

Axiom is planning to launch a private space station to replace the International Space Station. Axiom Space was founded to develop a commercial space station to facilitate both industry and space tourism.

Axiom has announced plans to routinely offer 10-day visits to the ISS. For its financial sense and cost- cutting measures to assure future manned space flights, Axiom hopes to launch its own power and propulsion modules and re-link its ISS modules into its own stand-alone space station and the company expects to be able to do all this for about $1.8 billion. In comparison, the ISS cost NASA roughly $150 billion.

Space Force and President Donald Trump
Coinciding with the successful SpaceX’s launch Crew Dragon, President Trump announced NASA is planning on sending the first woman ever and the first man in nearly five decades to the moon by 2024. According to NASA, only 12 humans, all-male, have ever walked on the moon and they were all American men.

"The last person walked on the Moon in 1972," NASA said, and; "No woman has ever walked on the lunar surface." President Trump added, “Under my administration, we are restoring @NASA to greatness and we are going back to the Moon, then Mars,". Part of the huge financial commitment to this goal was the creation of the U.S. Space Force (USSF) is a new branch of the Armed Forces. The USSF was established within the Department of the Air Force, meaning the Secretary of the Air Force has overall responsibility for the USSF, under the guidance and direction of the Secretary of Defense.

Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin
Is owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon has conducted test flights and unveiled its own moon lander. Bezos has said he plans to “build a road to space” so that humans will one day be able to sustain colonies beyond Earth. Blue Origin, unlike SpaceX, is taking very measured steps toward manned space flight, albeit much slower than others. Its website claims “We are not in a race, and there will be many players in this human endeavor to go to space to benefit Earth. Blue's part in this journey is building a road to space with our reusable launch vehicles, so our children can build the future. We will go about this step by step because it is an illusion that skipping steps gets us there faster. Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.”

As Aaron Pressman wrote for Forbes Magazine, “A successful mission (SpaceX – Dragon Crew) will mark not just the first time that humans have ever been carried into orbit by a private company, but it will also kick off the next major phase of the privatization of space. Planned missions to follow include the launch of private astronauts, a private space station, and possibly private missions beyond Earth. Meanwhile, the government is in line to save big money that can be reinvested in further space research and exploration. “We have begun an exciting new chapter where NASA can now focus on deep space,” says Stanford professor Scott Hubbard, the former director of NASA’s Ames Research Center who also helped advise SpaceX on crew safety. “The more routine up and down to low Earth orbit can be purchased a bit like an airline ticket.” The final frontier is out there, but the final two questions are: How much are consumers willing to pay for the tickets to ride? Would you rather go to the moon or Mars?

Author's Bio: 

Misty Jhones