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2021 Ascend conference puts focus on expanding private spaceflight

Acsend conference
Posted at 4:53 PM, Nov 15, 2021

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Making space flight available to all. The possibility continues to grow as some private citizens have already gone on missions to space over the past few months.

“We are now in the generation of the citizen astronaut. Regular people now going up into space. It’s really just the beginning of a whole new era.”

A new era to open the doors to a world few have gone before. That’s the message at the 2021 Ascend conference. Emcee Kari Byron, a t-v personality best known for her time on MythBusters, hosted a panel on citizen astronauts and believes they are pioneers in what’s possible in space.

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“To see that as a kid as something that was out of reach to a possibility to maybe, they could invite me to go is extraordinary,” she said.

Those same astronauts have gone on missions as private citizens like Inspiration 4. They say big leaps have been made but there still remains a lot of work.

“It was a record for the number of people that were in space at one time. It was 14. That doesn’t seem like a big number,” Jared Isaacman, Inspiration 4 commander, said.

It’s a number that’s expected to grow with potentially huge business opportunities from rocket technology to selling flights into space. Morgan Stanley projects the global space industry to grow to more than $1 trillion in revenue in 30 years.

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“We are in an age where the space business is reaching a tipping point and moving forward and becoming space for all.”

Dan Dumbacher, executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, compares the progress made in space flight to airplanes.

“Where we are today with space is similar to where the commercial airline industry was back in the 1930s. Back in the 1930s, we were barnstorming and doing all kinds of different things, and now we have the safest air travel system in the world,” he said.

Byron says the progress made could allow the average person to think bigger if they look up at the sky.

“It’s the storytelling that they bring back and inspire another generation of space travel, research, and exploration,” she said.

There was a short remembrance for Blue Origin astronaut Glen de Vries who died in a plane crash just a few days ago. He was scheduled to speak at the conference. The conference will continue here in Las Vegas through Wednesday.