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Virgin mainstreams space tourism

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on October 23, 2005

Thanks to Terrestial Musings for pointing out that space tourism is no longer a giggling matter. In factor, the intrepid serial entrepreneur, Richard Branson head of a new company, Virgin Galactic, has collected $10 million from potential customers, making it a real business. The cost of a few minutes in space is about $200,000.

Branson, of course, is a key supporter of Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne, the first private-owned spaceship. Rutan is designing a larger SpaceshipTwo to accomodate the tourists, perhaps the size of a Gulfstream Five business jet. When SpaceShipOne was being built, there wasn’t a business model that made much sense. Yet Rutan and Branson went ahead with the daring deed, hoping, assuming that a business model would evolve and present itself. It now has. That’s how breakthrough innovation tends to work. It requires a leap of faith that most managers can do. Strange, we talk about CEO “vision” all the time, without defining it. But taking a leap of faith on designing and innovating a new product or service is so much harder. In space, virgin
Branson, Rutan and a few others are teaching CEOs how to innovate. Would they be listening to the message.

Speaking of space, last week was a big one. The Russians brought back a space tourist who spent $20 million for time on the International Space Station. And China put two men in a five day orbit and announced it wanted to go to the moon and mars.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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