Efforts of humankind to surpass its limits have sent us up to the stars during the last century. Since then, about 550 qualified astronauts have travelled into space, and the ones who’ve returned from successful missions describe it as one of the greatest mind-blowing experiences a person can ever have. While astronauts represent a very small percentage of our total population, millions of people from all over the world have dreamed of joining them for generations now. And thanks to the advances of technology and our understanding of the universe, those dreams might come to reality.
Paving the road for Space Tourism
Interest in space tourism started as far back as the Apollo 8 and Apollo 11 missions, which took place in 1968 and 1969, respectively. It looked like an unrealistic statement back then, but heads of the industry already talked about how flying people to the moon would be a normal commercial endeavor at some point. In 2001, a businessman by the name of Dennis Tito became the first space tourist when he forked over $20 million for an eight-day excursion in the International Space Station (ISS). And, to date, six more people followed his footsteps. With the recent emergence of private space flight companies — such as Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX — and the approval of NASA (which refused to fly non-astronauts at first), commercial flight projects have grown rapidly. They are set to launch early in this decade.
An expensive vacation
We can categorize the cost of a space flight depending on your destination. If you are looking for a brief trip to outer space, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo and Blue Origin’s New Shepard can take you to the Karman line (also known as “the start of space”) for a price ranging between $200,000 and $300,000. Hundreds of people already bought their tickets, and while it’s certainly expensive, this is the cheapest way to experience the effect of space and leave the Earth’s atmosphere.
On the other hand, NASA is planning to open the ISS to tourists very soon. It’s joined up with SpaceX and Boeing to offer a longer and bigger trip for those who want to take the risk. As for now, the flight itself is expected to cost about $50 million, with an extra $35,000 for every day spent on the station. Due to the time it’ll take to reach the base and come back, training will be required and provided by third party companies like NASTAR in order to avoid complications. It won’t be as extensive and physically demanding as a regular astronaut’s training, but it’s important to meet the fitness/medical parameters established because getting up there is no picnic. In general, this is a total luxury, but entirely worth for the people who can afford it!
Additionally, companies are working to offer suborbital flights in the upcoming years. There are no exact numbers at the moment, but they are estimated to cost from $1 million to $5 million.
The future is ahead
Even though space travel seems like a glamorous recreation, let’s not forget that one of the industry’s first priorities is to make it accessible to a wider public as time goes on. Development of reusable spaceships is a step in the right direction which will reduce costs by a considerable amount, and new ideas like Bigelow Aerospace’s inflatable modules could be the perfect foundation for space hotels. A hundred years ago, $250.000 was the price of crossing the Atlantic ocean, and plane tickets have also featured a few discounts since air flights became a standard. Start saving, because sooner than later, it’ll be our turn to venture through the galaxy.