So You Want to Be A Space Tourist? Here’s What You Can Do
Though we’ve been living in the Space Age for more than half a century, going into space remains an extreme rarity.
Fewer than 600 people have gone above the Kármán line — the point, about 62 miles above Earth, that marks the beginning of space — and all were put there by the U.S. or another nation’s government.
But the rise of private spaceflight companies like Virgin Galactic and Space X means that the final frontier may soon be within reach of a great many more of us.
The firms have announced plans to put private astronauts, a.k.a. space tourists, on orbital or suborbital flights within the next few years.
Initially, the cost of a ride on one of these rockets will be hundreds of thousands of dollars at a minimum. That puts the experience within reach of only the wealthiest people.
But advances in rocket and capsule design are expected to lower the price to the point that people of more modest fortunes are able to afford a ticket.
Some projections put the global space tourism market at more than $34 billion by 2021.
What Space Tourists Can Expect
What exactly is in store for space tourists? The excitement of a rocket ride and a chance to experience weightlessness, for starters.
And the bragging rights are hard to beat. But some say the biggest benefit of going into space is getting a dramatic new outlook on life on the fragile blue marble we call home.
It’s a perspective shift that could have profound implications not just for individuals but also for society at large.
Billionaire computer engineer Charles Simonyi flew to the International Space Station aboard a Russian spacecraft with the assistance of a Vienna, Virginia-based firm called Space Adventures, and he echoes that sentiment.
“It’s great to go to space just because it’s there,” he says. “But I think space is our destiny and we will discover great benefits from it.”
Virgin Galactic plans to offer suborbital jaunts into space, with customers being treated to six minutes of weightlessness along with that one-of-a-kind view.
The Las Cruces, New Mexico-based company says more than 600 customers have signed up, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Katy Perry, Ashton Kutcher, and the late physicist, Stephen Hawking.
The price of a ticket stands at $250,000, with registration open for anyone who has that kind of extra cash on hand.
Virgin CEO Richard Branson said on July 5 that he hopes to see space tourists flying on Virgin by the end of 2018. But other executives at the firm seem reluctant to commit to that.
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