The Future of Space Tourism
We are getting closer to the possibility of experiencing space tourism, with several companies presenting the public with opportunities for space voyage. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX announced late last year that several aspiring space tourists have already placed deposits to solidify their spot as one of the first to experience a recreational trip to space. These travelers are already undergoing fitness tests and have begun training for the harsh elements of space.
Space tourism has long been seen as the last frontier for tourism, and with advancements in technology, non-astronauts out there can soon experience a space mission. Currently, space tourism is still only accessible for the rich, with tickets being sold for tens of thousands of dollars.
The one thing that has held back the development of space tourism is developing a low-cost passenger launch vehicle. Currently, a rocket launch is a very expensive ordeal, with the cost of fuel and resources very high. Right now, space tourism is in what is called the “Pioneering phase” where customers will be very few, and the cost will still be fairly high. These trips will be more adventure travel rather than a luxury-filled experience. These trips will be focused more on the safety of the passengers as opposed to more comfort focused.
Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, and SpaceX are all at the forefront of the 21st-century space race to establish a space tourism industry. Bill Gutman, vice president of aerospace operations at Spaceport America, said the key to unlocking the future of space tourism depends on “reusable space vehicles […] These vehicles have the potential to open the space experience to vastly more people than has been possible heretofore,” he says. With this, orbital space travel will become more available for tourists in the near future. Reusable technology can help in cutting down on a multitude of costs, and will allow for a greater volume of launches. Guttman added “It is anticipated that Virgin Galactic will take more people to space in the first few years of operations than have experienced space from the beginning of the Space Age until present.”
While trips into space could be sooner than we think, some companies have their sights set on venturing even further, with aspirations of building the first orbiting space hotel. Orbital Technologies is a Russian company that has plans to build a small space hotel that can fit up to seven guests and will orbit the entirety of the Earth. Eventually, they want to build “Lunar Colonies” for longer stays in space that will be more focused around leisure. Until then, this is an exciting time to be alive, as we are on the cusp of a brand new way of exploring space.