Wherever you travel, you’ll be greeted by incredible new things to marvel at and awe at the magnificence of our mother planet. I guarantee you will never run out of exotic and unique places to visit right here on Earth but, consider this. Earth is just a plain old planet orbiting our plain old sun out of billions of suns out there. Earth is still just our origin point to explore what’s still left unknown. Going to Outer Space is unrivaled to any other place down on Earth. So, here’s your all you need to know about Space Tourism.
According to some companies in the industry, they expect Space Tourism to become an extreme form of luxury and perhaps affordable to a wider public range in a decade or two. Here are your how-to guide and a brief overview of this industry.
Space Tourism is human Space travel for recreational purposes. For a very good deal, you can become a space tourist, aka a fee-paying astronaut. Yes, I said that, a very good deal. What’s the point of keeping millions of dollars when you can exchange it for a once-in-a-lifetime experience? You’ll be viewing Earth from a unique angle, and you will escape Gravity! You’ll be floating and flying up there just like ~actual~ astronauts or cosmonauts taking Instagram-worthy selfies! Putting all that aside, how good is the ‘deal’ and how pricey is Space Tourism? Dreams are indeed very expensive, but I’ll break down the future of this market, including the expected expenses, so that you can start saving up for your outer-space adventure!
The Beginning of Space Tourism
Space Tourism is not anything new; in fact, it has been around for nearly two decades. The first person to purchase a ticket to outer space was a US millionaire named Dennis Tito, who claimed he just returned from Paradise right after completing his experience as the world’s first Space Tourist back in 2001. Initially, he requested NASA, which refused to take him as he wasn’t a trained Astronaut. The Russian Federal Space agency was the one who fulfilled his 40 – year goal for a good 20 million dollars. It was not, however, an easy process for Tito. He received harsh criticism and cold shoulders from NASA during training before the take-off as it was considered ‘inappropriate’ for a passenger to go for a ride in space. Nonetheless, he spent nearly 8 days orbiting in a space Capsule called ISS EP-1 on a mission to the International Space Station. 10 years after coming back, Tito said in a BBC interview that he is one of the happiest human beings alive due to his marvelous experience.
The Russian Space Agency has been the only one to send tourists to space beginning in the 2000s. They ceased these flights in 2010 after completing a total of 7 commercial orbital trips. Since their retirement, several Space companies have launched their ideas and proposals in this industry, and they’re in the long run to see which company will hit the jackpot of this market. NASA has also opened up the International Space Station for tourists to experience zero Gravity like an actual astronaut up in the orbiting laboratory in the sky. It is a huge shift for NASA, who once criticized private space tourists, but for each night a tourist spends on the ISS, NASA will get $35,000.
The Virgin Galactic company aims to perform suborbital space flights for paying customers. In contrast to orbital ones made by the Russian space agency, suborbital flights are brief space flights that will not complete a full orbit of the Earth. The space vehicle is sent to the edge of the space and comes back right down. I consider these flights in a more affordable range for the public–Virgin Galactic sold tickets at a price of approximately $300,000. It’s expected that they’ll raise their prices the next time the reservations are open. For now, you can sign up to get on the waitlist with a deposit of $1000. The company is already holding an extensive list of 700 people who have secured their seats for the SpaceShipTwo suborbital flights, which were expected to launch in 2020. However, the test flights have been delayed due to the pandemic resulting in abortion of the actual commence.
A company in Texas set up by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin is also on its slow and smooth process to offer similar suborbital space flights. They have developed a spacecraft named New Shepard, a rocket-launched space capsule, designed to take off and land vertically. This reusable space capsule will carry six Astronauts aboard per flight. Blue Origin still hasn’t started selling tickets or announced the pricings but you can fill this form to receive early access when they open reservations.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon orbital launch on May 30, 2020, proved its successful capability as a privately funded company to build and operate a launch vehicle for human spaceflight, marking a start for commercial human space travel. They’re the only rocket company to have been certified by NASA and to send humans into actual orbit. They recently sold a Starship flight around the moon to Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa who will be taking six to eight artists with him to work on an art project called #dearMoon. If all goes well, Maezawa will become the first commercial passenger to do a flyby around the moon, and SpaceX will be doing the first orbital flights in two or three years.
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
Despite their criticism to the first space tourist back in 2001, NASA has also started working with private companies. Indeed, collaborating with commercial partners is a great way to receive more funding, and an increased budget. The Commercial Crew Program will join hands with SpaceX and Boeing utilizing these companies’ Crew Dragon and Starliner spacecraft to shuttle up to four astronauts to and from the International Space Station. They can also sell spare seats on their flights to private tourists after their few flights with NASA. SpaceX’s cost per seat is approximately around $55 million, and Boeing sets its price at $90 million to fly with actual astronauts on a round trip to the ISS.
Zero Gravity Experience
Suppose you’re interested in flying but not necessarily in becoming a space tourist or visiting the International Space Station. In that case, Zero-G is a budget-friendly alternative option for you to experience true weightlessness without actually going to space. These flights are conducted by aircraft flying upward and downward arcs to get passengers to experience negligible gravitational force for very small intervals in the cabin, therefore feeling ‘weightlessness.’ Currently, this service is put on hiatus because of the pandemic. Still, once this lockdown period is over, you can save your seat for $5,400 plus 5 percent tax. This includes meal plans, professional photoshoots, and almost eight minutes of weightless experience–you can finally fly like Superman!
An alternative option to earn a ticket
If all of these sounds way too of your budget range, there’s always another option. No, I’m not going to opt for you to become an Astronaut. Well, it’s great, if you can become one and I will be so proud of you but there is still a third option. Do you know what Tourism can’t survive without? Yes, tourists and of course, their money but…what else? Tour guides, duh! Before you know it, once Space Tourism launches into a flourishing business, Space tourists’ demand will explode. If you’re set on spending the rest of your life lecturing basic Physics and Space Science to multi-millionaires on a spaceship, then this is the job for you.
Risks Associated with Space Flights
Setting all the wonders of the Universe aside, Space Flight is still an extremely dangerous and exotic activity; you will take huge unknown risks as a commercial space participant. This industry is still very young, with tons of risks and uncertainties awaiting the companies running countless test flights and practicing multiple safety procedures.
What experts suggest is to maintain medical fitness and training and precise information on the risk factors. Both known and unknown dangers can cause you serious mental and physical health hazards, on some occasions leading to fatal injuries.