Commercial space travel is one of the most promising new aspects of the tourism industry, and companies like Virgin Galactic and SpaceX are already making headlines by announcing plans to offer different types of commercial spaceflight in the near future. While the idea of space tourism may seem futuristic, it has a long and illustrious history. The Russian Space Agency, on the other hand, is the only organization that has successfully facilitated orbital space recreational travel so far. This mostly happened in the early 2000s, when seven space tourists first launched into space.
Companies Making Space Travel Possible
The idea of space tourism is gaining in popularity, and there is an increasing number of companies involved in space tourism-related activities. The following companies offer the best chance of realizing one’s dream of visiting space as a traveller.
When it comes to launching space-bound flights, SpaceX has a lot of experience, and the organization is planning to get on the space tourism bandwagon as well. Unlike most other companies in this area, however, they are focusing on lunar tourism and other modes of space exploration beyond Earth orbit. Elon Musk, the company’s founder, revealed in 2017 that he planned to send two paying tourists on an inaugural lunar tourism mission around the moon. The task was supposed to take place in 2018, but it has been postponed. For lunar journeys, SpaceX has not yet released a pricing plan or a waiting list.
Orion Span is a US-based space travel corporation that recently unveiled plans for the Aurora Space Station, a private commercial space station. This would be stationed in low Earth orbit and would essentially serve as a space hotel, accommodating up to six space tourists at a time. Although the plans are still in the planning stages, the company has already sold out of hotel reservations for several months. The average cost of reserving a space hotel is currently more than £7 million. Orion Span currently estimates that the Aurora Space Station will welcome its first paying visitors in 2022.
The Boeing Company
When the Boeing Company signed an agreement with NASA as part of its Commercial Crew Development program, it became a major player in the space tourism industry. This initiative aimed to expand private sector participation in the development of crew vehicles that would be launched into space. Boeing began construction on the Boeing CST-100 Starliner, a crew capsule, as part of the deal. Importantly, the company’s NASA contract allows them to sell seats to space tourists, with the goal of having at least one space tourist involved in each subsequent space mission.
The Virgin Galactic Spaceship
The SpaceShip III class of vehicles uses a modular design to allow improved performance in terms of maintenance access and flight rate. According to Virgin Galactic, the third generation of spaceships will lay the groundwork for future spacecraft design and production. The launch of the Spaceship III class of vehicles is a significant step forward in Virgin Galactic’s multi-year plan to fly 400 flights per year from each spaceport.
Brief Sub-Orbital Visits
Fare-paying travelers are transported to the edge of space, which is usually set at 100 km (62 miles) altitude, for brief suborbital flights that include a few minutes of weightlessness and a panoramic view of Earth. In 2004, a privately financed spacecraft called SpaceShipOne became the first of its kind to carry human beings (in this case, test pilots) on such flights, thanks to a prize competition that began in the late 1990s. This accomplishment could signal the start of the commercial suborbital travel industry. Despite this, SpaceShipOne achieved a speed of just over three times the speed of sound, or around one-seventh of the speed needed to enter a realistic low-Earth orbit. Commercial flights into space on a regular basis are expected to be years away.
A Hefty Price Tag
Many members of the general public have shown an interest in paying substantial sums of money to fly to space. Although a few wealthy individuals have paid exorbitant rates to visit the International Space Station, large-scale growth of the space tourism industry will be unlikely before less-expensive, highly efficient transportation systems to orbit are installed.
A complex mix of motivations has fueled space exploration and growth, including scientific inquiry, intense rivalry between national governments and ideologies, and commercial benefit. A vision of human migration away from Earth, eventually leading to permanent colonies in space or on other celestial bodies, has been at the heart of them. In fact, only 27 people have traveled beyond Earth orbit, and they were all Apollo astronauts during the mostly political-motivated race to the Moon. Human discovery and colonization of the solar system will resume, but under what circumstances is a big question for the future.