30Jan2018

Upcoming Private Space Tourism

Space tourism: not just yet please

Space tourism is space travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. There are several different types of space tourism, including orbital, suborbital and lunar space tourism

Have you ever dreamed about being an astronaut? Traveling into outer space sounds like it could be a lot of fun, but as of today, only a very few people get to leave the Earth to play among the stars.

That could soon be changing, however, with the rise of private space tourism. Companies like Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, and Blue Origin all have plans to make it possible for anyone with enough money to take a trip beyond the reaches of the Earth. Would you make the trip?

PrivateIn the early 21st century, seven space tourists paid between $20 and $40 million to take a trip on a Russian Soyuz rocket operated by the official Russian Space Agency, but the Russian space tourism program ended in 2010. No other way to visit space is currently available.

So far, the private space tourism industry hasn’t quite gotten off the ground, in large measure due to the difficulty of creating spacecraft that can safely leave Earth and return unharmed.

Space tourism companies say that these challenges will be overcome in short order, and soon it will be a regular occurrence to travel into space. The first private space tourists are scheduled to depart in 2018.

But the question remains: Is space tourism right for you? We have a handy primer to help you decide whether to strap yourself to a rocket to the stars.

  • Do you have enough money? Space tourism is expensive. When regular flights to space launch, they will cost less that the Russian Space Agency charged, but still more than the average middle-class individual can afford. Virgin Galactic pre-sold tickets at $250,000 apiece, and has collected $80 million in deposits, though their plans don’t involve trips to the International Space Station or the moon. NASA estimates that ticket for a private flight to the International Space Station will set you back $58 million, while Space Adventures charges $175 million for a planned moon mission in 2020. The high price tag means that only the super rich will have the opportunity to plumb the depths of space.
  • Are you willing to risk getting blown up? So far, private space rockets have had a fairly high failure rate. While professional astronauts understand and accept the risk that any trip to space might mean that they can never return, private space tourists are likely to be much less tolerant of the risk that any trip could be one-way. Until private spacecraft build up a record of safety, it might be difficult to calculate exactly how dangerous a space trip might be.
  • Will you really go to space? Different companies promise different space experiences. While those with hundreds of millions of dollars might be able to visit the moon, the merely regular rich will have to settle for shuttles that send tourists into low Earth orbit. While this is technically defined as space, some trips are more “spacey” than others. Space begins at just 65 km (99 miles), so some space tourism might not even leave Earth’s atmosphere. This type of tourism is known as “suborbital” and would feature just 3 to 6 minutes of weightlessness.

So, basically, space tourism is the province of the rich and will be a boondoggle for those with too much money and no way to spend it all. Over time, however, the hope is that space tourism will come down in price so that the merely rich will be able to afford at least suborbital tourism.

However, given the challenges involved in maintaining spacecraft, and vast costs involved, it seems unlikely that regular middle-class people will be making regular excursions into space anytime soon.

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There will be a market for humanity’s expansion beyond Earth orbit, industry experts said — but none of them can predict what form that market will take.

Given all of this, the excitement generated by space tourism in the minds of the public is clearly aspirational rather than practical. Many people support space tourism because they imagine themselves as space tourists.

We can imagine a future that looks like The Jetsons or Futurama, but it is a more contentious question of whether space tourism would experience the same level of public support if most people were better informed about just how few people will be able to take advantage of it, and how rich you’d have to be to secure a seat on a space tourist flight.

For now, the high price tag of space flights means that the biggest customer for private space ventures will be governments who need to reach the International Space Station. The U.S. government hasn’t had a way to get to space since 2011, and the rise of private spacecraft fills a need that governments are no longer meeting. Source: Smart Writing Service

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