Almost every child, during their childhood days, whenever looked up at the sky at night got curious about space, stars, the moon and even other things that they were able to see. But their questions remained unanswered most of the time or they were tricked by their parents and elders into telling some fictional stories about the moon and stars.
But with private companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic investing heavily in developing space tourism technology, the idea of visiting space as a tourist is no longer just science fiction. Space tourism has become an increasingly popular topic, with the prospect of ordinary people being able to travel to space becoming more realistic. In this article, we will explore what space tourism is, its history, types, cost efficiency, and much more.
What Space Tourism is and its types?
So before you know the other aspects of it, firstly understand what space tourism is.
Space tourism is the practice of travelling to space for leisure or recreational purposes. It involves paying for a spaceflight on a spacecraft or rocket, to experience weightlessness and the view of the Earth from space. Space tourism is often touted as the ultimate adventure, offering a once-in-a-lifetime experience that only a handful of people have ever had.
Types Of Space Tourism
- Suborbital Space Tourism: This type of space tourism involves short-duration flights that reach altitudes just above the Earth’s atmosphere. Suborbital flights provide passengers with a few minutes of weightlessness and a view of the curvature of the Earth. Companies like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are currently developing suborbital vehicles for commercial space tourism.
- Orbital Space Tourism: This type of space tourism involves longer-duration flights that take passengers into Earth’s orbit, allowing them to experience weightlessness for an extended period. Orbital flights are much more expensive than suborbital flights and require more training. Currently, no company offers orbital flights for tourists, but SpaceX is planning to launch private citizens on a trip around the Moon.
- Lunar Space Tourism: Lunar flights take passengers to the Moon and provide them with an opportunity to experience the Moon’s surface. Currently, no company offers lunar tourism, but SpaceX has announced plans to send private citizens on a lunar mission.
- Space Station Tourism: This type of space tourism involves a visit to the International Space Station (ISS) and allows passengers to experience life in microgravity. Currently, only a handful of private citizens have visited the ISS, and the cost of such a trip is extremely high. However, several companies, including Axiom Space and Space Adventures, are planning to offer space station tourism shortly.
- Deep Space Tourism: This type of space tourism involves trips beyond Earth’s orbit to destinations like Mars or asteroids. Currently SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic are the only companies working on developing the technology necessary to make such trips possible.
History of Space Tourism
Before we move further, let’s know where it all started. Space tourism has been a topic of discussion since the 1960s, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that the first space tourism company was founded. The company, called Space Adventures, offered flights to the Russian Mir space station. In 2001, the first space tourist, Dennis Tito, paid 20 million dollars to visit the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Since then, six other space tourists have followed in Tito’s footsteps, paying between 20 and 40 million dollars for a trip to the ISS.
Current Status of Space Tourism:
Currently, the space tourism industry is in its infancy, with only a handful of companies offering spaceflight experiences. The most well-known of these companies is Virgin Galactic, founded by billionaire Richard Branson. Virgin Galactic has been developing its SpaceShipTwo spacecraft for over a decade, with several successful test flights completed. The company plans to begin commercial spaceflights in 2022, with tickets costing around $250,000 per person.
Blue Origin is developing its New Shepard spacecraft, which has completed over a dozen successful test flights. The company plans to begin selling tickets for suborbital spaceflights shortly but has not yet announced pricing or a timeline for the start of commercial operations.
SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, is not currently focused on space tourism but has announced plans to send private citizens around the Moon in its Starship spacecraft in 2023. The company has not yet revealed who the passengers will be or how much they paid for the trip.
How much does it going to cost you for travelling into space?
Space tourism is currently a very expensive proposition, and the cost depends on the type of space tourism being offered. Here are some estimated costs for different types of space tourism.
- Suborbital Space Tourism: The cost of a suborbital space tourism trip is expected to be around $250,000 to $500,000 per person. Virgin Galactic has already started taking bookings for its suborbital flights for $250,000 per ticket.
- Orbital Space Tourism: SpaceX is planning to launch private citizens on a trip around the Moon, and the estimated cost for the trip is around $35 million per person.
- Lunar Space Tourism: No company currently offers lunar tourism, but SpaceX has announced plans to send private citizens on a lunar mission, and the estimated cost for the trip is around $1 billion per person.
- Space Station Tourism: Currently, the cost of a trip to the International Space Station (ISS) is around $35 million per person, which includes transportation, training, and accommodation costs.
- Deep Space Tourism: The cost of deep space tourism is expected to be very high and likely to be in the billions of dollars per person.
Future of Space Tourism
The future of space tourism looks promising, as technology advances and costs decrease, space tourism will likely become more accessible to the general public. However, the high cost of spaceflight and the inherent risks involved mean that space tourism will likely remain a niche market for the foreseeable future.
In conclusion, Space tourism is an exciting and rapidly evolving industry, with the potential to offer a unique and unforgettable experience to a select few. While it is still in its early stages, space tourism is poised to grow in popularity in the coming years, with several companies competing to offer the best spaceflight experiences. As technology improves and costs decrease, space tourism will likely become more accessible to the general public, offering a glimpse into the final frontier that was once only available to a select few.