Virgin Galactic: Diffusion of Innovation in Space Tourism?
In December 2018, US-based Virgin Galactic LLC (Virgin Galactic), a commercial space tourism company founded by Sir Richard Branson, launched its first successful crewed test spacecraft. The company's goal was to launch suborbital space tourism in 2019. However, experts and critics voiced concerns that Virgin Galactic's space tourism program could have adverse environmental and health effects. A prominent astronaut also considered Branson's space program to be a marketing gimmick aimed at ultra-rich consumers. Branson believed that Virgin Galactic caused less environmental pollution than conventional air travel and with time would become affordable. Could Branson make space tourism a feasible reality in the long term? Was Branson right to claim that space tourism would become affordable over time? Should he pursue multiple business opportunities, such as intercontinental space travel and supporting research and development projects, along with space tourism? Arpita Agnihotri is affiliated with Pennsylvania State University - Harrisburg. Saurabh Bhattacharya is affiliated with Newcastle University.