Virgin Galactic New Direction in Tourism Requiring Exceptional Leadership
Space Tourism is a business venture that is so interesting. It is a new experience that will be focused upon by the people interested in it. In this time wherein different countries are discovering new things to improve its economic conditions, some people are trying to develop business endeavors that are novel and interesting. Customers or clients around the world are eager to try the business of space tourism.
In a layman’s term and understanding, tourism is an activity that involves enjoyment of a given developed location.
Usually, places that are developed for tourism purposes are those found in beaches, mountains, national parks and historical places all of which are found in the land. People are visiting these places each year adding revenues and profits to investors in the field of tourism. In some cases, people from other countries visit the tourism spot of another country since it is considered famous.
As such, the business of tourism is promising since recreation is one factor that makes a person’s life complete and happy. The business of tourism also adds pride to a place or country wherein its historical heritage is being visited by thousands of people every year. Aside from the revenues that can be taken in that situation, its publicity on the fact that people are coming back counts for the total evaluation on its fame around the world.
However, there are questions that define the thread of this case study.
How about developing a tourism that involves the biosphere? How about giving investment for space tourism that is supposed to be expensive? Is it feasible? Is space tourism practical and attractive for tourists? Well, there have been studies that focused on the issue of space tourism. A few persons who are considered leaders on their own way had led the development of space tourism like Richard Branson who created the Virgin Galactic among the companies that he built in addition to his growing empire. There were various space designers like Burt Rutan for one whom extensively prepared designs for the industry. In short, space tourism had become an ordinary business venture that demands effective leadership and manpower.
It may be true that only those people who can afford to avail the services of space tourism but it is also possible that in the near future this kind of service can be offered to the masses. Space tourism is not practical in the sense that the necessary supplies needed for designing space crafts or space ships are so expensive. However, the happiness and amazement that a customer gets in experiencing the biosphere is enough to develop the industry on space tourism. After all, space tourism is still another kind of service that a person can get from a business organization.
In this study, the development of the Virgin Group will be discussed as well as the leadership of Richard Branson. Virgin Galactic is under the auspices of the Virgin Group which was created and developed due to the genius leadership of Richard Branson. There will be a review of related literature in order to make a foundation of the case study. Next is the discussion of the Virgin Group and the leadership of Richard Branson comprising the way it was created and how it hit the consumers. Aerospace designer Rutan will also be tackled as well as the analysis of different factors like technical matters, safety, environment, green issues, cost, market, and global branding.
Space Tourism in the 21st Century: A Review of Related Literature
In the 21st century, there were many instances wherein the possibility of having profitable space tourism has been displayed. There were also studies made regarding the subject. These matters are going to be tackled in this chapter with the hope that its significance would be placed in the frontier of technological and business development.
According to David, the people have been a space faring creatures for more than 50 years (David, 2001, p. 1). People want to go to the moon and within the biosphere for a peculiar experience and scientific knowledge. As such, the governments of different countries who are advanced enough to stage a series of visits in the space consumed their budgets on the process. However, there was recent news that for the first time, a person used his own money just to experience being in the space (David, 2001, p. 1).
This phenomenon paved the way of creating a commercial arena within the biosphere. There could be a shopping complex in the outer space, a sports arena and even hotels. The possibility of commercializing the experience in the outer space is not abstract. It is sure to happen and is going to happen. There is one factor that has been identified by one research and that is the fact that consumer discretionary spending matters (David, 2001, p. 1). If the people were liberated enough to try investing in space tourism using their own resources, a new business frontier would happen. There could be a valuable transformation of the outer space into an exciting place for the people to enjoy. Commercial entertainment is one possibility that could be ventured upon by the people who can afford to do so. A migration off the planet is a more exciting activity that could attract more people in the future.
However, there is one problem that made the plan of space development currently possible. The said problem is regulatory environment wherein it held back the progress of space tourism (David, 2001, p. 1). Despite the fact that regulatory environment is a hindrance to the development of space tourism, people who are behind that move is positive that creative space entrepreneurial ideas will be materialized.
Another thing, topics about space tourism is also prohibited in other countries (David, 2001, p. 1). There were records that the Russians are those who were able to send the first man in space and also the first tourist in space (David, 2001, p. 1). The United States is set to prepare for its leadership in space tourism in return of the said achievement of the Russians.
There was a study conducted on June 8, 2000 for the benefit of Sophron Foundation that tackles more on the near-term prospects for space tourism. The authors of the study are those people behind the Interglobal Space Lines, Incorporated. It is worthy to note that the aim of the study is to keep up with the goal of Sophron Foundation in developing a scheme for a wonderful activity in the biosphere. From the start of the study, it was nearly stated that space tourism is fascinating for the reasons that it gives myriad opportunities to try the endless weightlessness, the ever-increasing opinions about the fragility of planet earth and the wondrous universe of which such opportunity is only available for a few people some years ago. It cannot be avoided to discuss the truth that for the past years, going into space is for the purpose of contesting another superpower. But this time, the main purpose of establishing a space tourism industry is to open to the public its services. The market for the industry is ever extending thereby giving chances to those who are studying for years the strength and innovations of space interfacing.
At this juncture, we are bound to discuss the potential concepts for near-term space tourism. According to Interglobal Space Lines Incorporated, there are various space crafts that can be addressed by the government of the United States (“Near-Term Prospects for Space Tourism”). Yet, these matters do not include Russian aircrafts. Normally, there are four divisions of the kinds of aircraft used in the biosphere tour. These are the parabolic aerospace flights that is designed to stimulate weightlessness, aerospace that are high-altitude for rides to the edge of the biosphere, the one that is called sub-orbital tour into the biosphere and as well as orbital rides into space (“Near-Term Prospects for Space Tourism”).
For parabolic aerospace, it is uniquely designed for weightlessness that has been adopted by the NASA for about 40 years. The prospect of this category is to be privatized in the long run. The truth of the matter is that, weightlessness description of the parabolic aircraft has not been granted by the law such that public aerospace do not have this feature. Hence, there is a need to primarily privatize the same to avoid chaos in the space tourism industry. There may be difficulties to do this core; efforts had been made for that matter. One reason why there is difficulty in privatizing the parabolic aircraft is the fact that even high school or college students were able to avail its usefulness for space experiments. One study is being divulged is about the case of Incredible Adventures that only sold two flights to public tourists (“Near-Term Prospects for Space Tourism”). The reason is that market formation cannot be reached due to the fact that those who can afford a five thousand dollars fare excluding travel to Russia which is the base, would not like to avail thereof since the base station is too far and infested with governmental or bureaucratic problems like corruption and crimes (“Near-Term Prospects for Space Tourism”). As a result, there is a greater demand on the US aerospace as it is more accessible and with similar price than that of the Incredible Adventures.
Since there is a need to experience parabolic aerospace, people tend to look for options concerning commercially-certified aerospace. These options include two domestic flights such as experimental flight and KC-135 (“Near-Term Prospects for Space Tourism”). While the former is not affordable, the latter is bound to meet resistance from the NASA and FAA for permission to use in accordance with the law.
In connection with that, there were three solutions given to the problem in space tourism as identified in this study. First, there is a need to make precedents in privatization despite the strong resistance of NASA and FAA in such a way that an approval may be against public policy (“Near-Term Prospects for Space Tourism”). The problem here is some kind of proper policy implementation for progress and not high bureaucratic profile. Second, there is a need to consolidate the public and private market of space tourism for greater accessibility to the general public and the reduction of costs (“Near-Term Prospects for Space Tourism”). This could increase the scale of the space tourism business then. And third, there is a need to make available to the general public what is called weightless experience (“Near-Term Prospects for Space Tourism”). This solution could surely give foundation of public space tour and establishment of tourism market in the near future. There will also potential investors in the industry that could increase the interest to develop space tourism for the benefit of both the public and private sector.
The next category of aircraft to be discussed is high-altitude aerospace. While parabolic aircraft provides a weightless experience, other kinds of aerospace like high-altitude aircraft also gives different experiences. The height of this particular flight is 60,000 feet exceeding twice as a normal airplane carrier for a passenger flight. In this altitude, space tourists are expected to witness the curves of the earth below as well as darkness of the sky above it (“Near-Term Prospects for Space Tourism”). The clouds are so near and whatever region space tourists are flying seems to be visible. A Concorde flight is suggested for the flights having an altitude of 50,000 feet (“Near-Term Prospects for Space Tourism”).
In effect, there is an argument that a Concorde flight that operates high altitude aircraft is not feasible as a space tourism business (“Near-Term Prospects for Space Tourism”). The Concorde flight was accused to have not paid its total costs such that only the direct operating costs was paid by the company involved in it. In other words, there is no future for high-altitude aircraft flights since it does not have sure revenues or return of investments. It was then tagged as an economic failure. However, there are reasons why the said argument is flawed. First, the primary purpose of the Concorde flight is to enjoy the view. So then, there is no valid and fair argument that demands higher experiences for the flight as a high-altitude aircraft. In fact, the windows of the aircraft are too small, some of the flights are done above the ocean, and a 50,000 feet altitude is not sufficient to experience a curvature of the earth and the dark sky (“Near-Term Prospects for Space Tourism”). It would be unfair to judge the flights of Concorde if such was the case. Second, the reasons why Concorde flight is an economic failure are existence of sonic boom and short range capability and its being not pleasant to patronize (“Near-Term Prospects for Space Tourism”). It may be true that there are only a few people in the market for Concorde flights but given the chance of resolving the issues around might change the situation wherein high-altitude flights become feasible as a business.
Moreover, we need to discuss the suborbital passenger trips category. Suborbital passenger trips are more exciting than aforementioned two categories. It has a higher altitude and with longer period of experiencing weightlessness having a higher level of gravity on launch as well as entry (“Near-Term Prospects for Space Tourism”). However, due to motion space sickness, experience for weightlessness cannot be experienced for a longer time. Aside from that, the experience is more like a parabolic experience compared to a tourism purpose in space. In fact, suborbital passenger trip is actually more closely related to biomedical research (“Near-Term Prospects for Space Tourism”). It is interesting to note that there is a lone candidate to be funded for suborbital flight ventures and that is X-34. There are other prospects for suborbital vehicles to be funded, yet it did not reach the stage of being a candidate due to higher costs.
This time, let us talk about -34 as a suborbital flight. The X-34 is the brainchild of Orbital Sciences Corporation that can carry a suborbital flight (“Near-Term Prospects for Space Tourism”). In the first place, it is a research vehicle such that it was under contract with NASA. At present, the design of X-34 is not for the purpose of carrying passengers and even crew (“Near-Term Prospects for Space Tourism”). But it has a separate LOX tank that can be removed to be adopted with a capsule for the crew. However, a gravity suit is needed if ever passengers as crew will be accommodated in the aircraft.
On this chapter, the last thing to be discussed is the space shuttle or the orbital passenger flights. There are benefits and precedents for orbital passenger flights. There is a plan to launch a sole United States-based carrier for space tourists to low earth orbital trip (“Near-Term Prospects for Space Tourism”). But this shuttle has plans of flying through a civilian or non-NASA personnel. The Shuttle is also considered as a benevolent trip and it has sustenance via design an extension of three gravities at times of ascent and entry involving speeding up applicable to anyone that is in good health (“Near-Term Prospects for Space Tourism”). Other features of the Shuttle include a presence of a shuttle and enough room for weightless activities and sleeping too.
Finally, someone who is possibly paying large sums of money for a once-in-a-lifetime experience may not necessarily be tolerant of intrusive medical tests and procedures (though they might be persuaded). Rather than medical knowledge, the primary benefits of flying non-traditional astronauts on the Space Shuttle will be in terms of altering public perception, learning about crew interactions with passengers (as opposed to fellow crewmembers) who haven’t trained with them extensively, and establishing and solidifying legal precedents for flying civilians on NASA vehicles.
The Virgin Group and the Leadership of Richard Branson
In order to understand the success of Virgin Group, it is inevitable to discuss the topic about Richard Branson himself. Mission-Coach Website wrote about the Belief Model for the Leadership of Richard Branson. The leadership of Branson was examined in 7 ways such as ability, external behavior, test for values and beliefs, enabling beliefs and values, beliefs and values about the ability, core beliefs and values, as well as additional comments on different matters.
Essentially, the name of the subject of our case study is Richard Branson. With respect to ability, Branson has a leadership of a business that is considered to be successful. The fact is, Richard Branson is a well-known name in the United Kingdom (“Belief Model for the Leadership of Richard Branson”). The span of time wherein Richard Branson had developed the Virgin group and extended its territory was 20 years (“Belief Model for the Leadership of Richard Branson”). The external behavior of Richard Branson is unique. He always thinks in images and for him, there is no separation between working and playing. Richard Branson’s external behavior includes the ability to move quickly (“Belief Model for the Leadership of Richard Branson”). One factor that makes Richard Branson a good leader is that he can creatively manage joint ventures well by means of encouraging informality. Aside from that, the test for values and beliefs of Branson points to the idea that in the Virgin Group, it is easy to observe and identify a flow of information within the group setting. Feedback as well as profitability is easy to avail such that communication within the organization is effective. On top of all, Richard Branson is also able to find the right employees and co-workers that serve as the manpower of the organization. As a result, Branson was known for being a catalyst to the economic progress and intellectual development of other people.
In addition to that, Richard Branson is also famous in magazines that feature entrepreneurs who are successful in their chosen business endeavor. Inc Website featured Richard Branson as a businessman who is game for everything in this world. One important topic in the news about him is the creation of Virgin Galactic that proposes to finance clients who want to go to space (“Richard Branson, Virgin Group”). There is also a current launching of a domestic airline carrier in the USA that has been created under the brand of Virgin Group. Richard Branson gave a comment that such place was a miserably served market as of the present time.
Another thing is that, the products and services that are created under the brand of Virgin Group are not known all over the world. Practically, the services are only known in the United Kingdom wherein the conglomerate is born. In reality, only a few people who are aware that Virgin Group has limousine companies and businesses that uses wine as well as trains (“Richard Branson, Virgin Group”). There are also businesses of the Virgin Group that rent bikes and create cosmetics.
David, L. Space.Com. (2001, June 29). Space Tourism in the 21st Century: High Hopes, High Stakes. Retrieved September 1, 1980, from http://www.space.com/
Inc.com. (2008). Richard Branson, Virgin Group. Retrieved September 2, 2008, from
Interglobal Space Lines, Inc. (2000, June 8). Near-Term Prospects For Space Tourism.
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Mission-Coach. (2007). Belief Model for the Leadership of Richard Branson. Retrieved September 2, 2008, from http://www.mission-coach.co.uk/pages/belief_