Hospitality and Real Estate Students Explore Space Travel with OASA at the SHTM Distinguished Speaker Series

While global travel is being hauled by COVID-19, space travel has become an increasingly popular topic among imaginative travellers.

Have you ever thought of travelling to Space? Working in a space hotel? Or even living in the outer space? As a business major student, how could you seize the opportunity to make yourself an astropreneur (entrepreneur in the outer space sector)?

Astropreneurship leaders Dr. Gregg Li (also called “Dr. G”) and Mr. Hubert Lem shared their knowledge and expertise in Space Tourism at the School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM) Distinguished Speaker Series on 5 March 2021.

Dr. G and Mr. Lem are respectively the Founding Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Orion Astropreneur Space Academy (OASA) in Hong Kong. The Academy aims to provide leadership training and development of entrepreneurs in space.

The enlightening sharing by Dr. G and Mr. Lem reminded all of us that “space travel is not far from us”.

The first cosmonaut, a Russian, travelled to space in 1961. In fact, Russia also sent the first space tourist to space in 2001. Twenty years have passed, and as technology advances, space travel is no longer a job for astronauts but is becoming a recreational activity for humans. Space related activities will take up an indispensable market share in future economy.

A few companies have been developing space travel in the past decades and are soon expecting to realise this dream to humans. The first private commercial spacecraft to carry passengers to space is expected to be the one developed by SPACEX, founded by Elon Musk in 2002. It uses the “Falcon 9” reusable launcher and the “Crew Dragon” capsule which can carry up to 7 passengers to and from Earth orbit and beyond. It is expected to be launched by the end of 2021. So it is not too long to wait!

Another carrier is Virgin Galactic, founded by British air travel entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, who also founded Virgin Atlantic airlines. Virgin Galactic is targeting its first space tourist launch in 2022. Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo is expected to carry 6 passengers and 2 crew members to space for a suborbital flight lasting for 2-2.5 hours from takeoff to landing. Passengers will be able to experience zero-gravity for 4 minutes during flight time.

SpaceShipTwo (source: Virgin Galactic)SpaceShipTwo (source: Virgin Galactic)

So far it sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Then, the next question on many people’s minds is …… How much does it cost?

The speakers gave a rough figure of the cost in the presentation. SPACEX is estimated to cost approximately US$50 million per trip while Virgin Galactic has announced a cost of US$250,000. It will be another “homework” for future astropreneurs to think of how to economise space travel in order to make space tourism more affordable.

To become a successful entrepreneur or astropreneur, Dr. G recommended the students to “think outside the box” and “be a bold innovator”. He emphasised that active listening and sensing are important. Mr. Lem added that User Experience (UX) is an important part of the process.

“The world has changed so fast, except that we don’t see it!”
– Dr. Gregg Li

Dr. G and Mr. Lem’s sharing has definitely drawn attention and interest from our students towards Space Tourism and Astropreneurship. It is a topic that our students should drill into as it would be where future opportunity lies.

(From left) Prof. David Chan, Director and Professor of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK); Dr. Gregg Li, Founding Chairman of OASA; and Mr. Hubert Lem, Vice Chairman of OASA.

 “A lovely sharing! Thank you both! Learnt a lot and got a lot to think about now!”
– Aysiah Lam (BBA in Hospitality and Real Estate [HRE], Year 3)

“Dr. G and Mr. Lem guided us on a space journey. Knowledge ranging from how to be an astropreneur, the prospect of suborbital and orbital flights, to contributing back to society, are very insightful and inspirational.”
– Effie Lau (HRE, Year 4)

Since 2002, the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at CUHK Business School has incorporated a series of credit-bearing Distinguished Speaker Series courses into the BBA in Hospitality and Real Estate programme curriculum. Every semester, senior executives including CEOs, Directors and Presidents are invited to share their business insights with students. Students could not only gain insights from business insiders, but also see it as a networking opportunity for developing their careers in the hospitality, tourism or real estate fields.