Skip to Content

What is Space Tourism?

What is Space Tourism?

It’s no joke: space tourism has been a reality for the ultra-rich since 2001 when American Dennis Tito hitched a ride to the International Space Station. He spent a week as part of the crew on a Russian Soyuz rocket courtesy of an arrangement between the Russian Federal Space Agency and the American space tourism company Space Adventures.

Since then, Space Adventures has flown tourists into space 7 more times, all on Soyuz ships. And 2014 might be the year that other corporations launch spaceflights as well — although Space Adventures is planning to one-up them all with a tourist trip to the moon.

NPP Delta II Launch
Photo: gsfc

Sub-orbital flights


As of early 2014, Space Adventures remained the only company to take tourists into space. But their affiliate, Zero G Corporation, gives lucky travelers the chance to experience zero gravity conditions in a highly modified conventional plane — for the relatively affordable price of around $5000.

Virgin Galactic is hoping to launch their own space plane sometime in 2014, for a $250,000 ride up into the outer boundaries of Earth’s atmosphere.

The plane, SpaceShip Two, will be carried up to about 50,000 feet on the back of its mothership, and then blasted free by rockets that will take it the rest of the way — a total distance of about 99 miles above the earth.

Hundreds of tourists have already plunked down the full price of a ticket for the flight.

Other companies have projects still in their early phases. Armadillo Aerospace is currently developing a vertically launched sub-orbital rocket, and plans to sell tickets for a paltry $102,000 — practically a blue light special! And Blue Origin is seeking to lower prices by creating a completely reusable sub-orbital vehicle.

Orbital flights

The Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Space Adventures paused their orbital tourist flights after the disastrous flight of the Columbia. But the company will resume orbital tourism in 2015, so get your ticket now! The company has yet to release a ticket price to the public, but the last orbital space tourist — Canadian Guy Laliberte — paid $38,000,000 for his trip.

Heaven knows, this trip is probably worth the price. Private citizens will travel over 200 miles into space at a speed of 17,000 miles per hour. They’ll experience weightlessness as they enter into an orbit of the earth, and have the incomparable sight of planet Earth from above. The spacecraft will complete a full earth orbit every 90 minutes.

Space tourists will be thoroughly trained before leaving on their journey. The trip can last as long as 12 days in space with a visit to the International Space Station included at no extra charge.

To the moon

Crescent moon from space
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

For the truly adventurous (and mega-rich) Space Adventures is taking reservations now for their first private moon expedition. The flight will accommodate just two tourists and one experienced cosmonaut. Rumor has it that one of the two tourist seats is already taken.

The flight will begin on a Soyuz rocket, then rendezvous with the International Space Station. Visitors will spend 10 days there before heading out again in a specially modified lunar module. When it reaches the moon (about a 3-day trip), the lunar module will enter into a looping trajectory, getting as close as 62 miles to its cratered surface.

Space Adventures plans to launch its first moon flight toward the end of 2015. The price of a ticket? It’s estimated to be around $150,000,000.

Pad A, Launch Complex 39
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Lock In Your Travel Now
Looking for Extra Travel Perks?
My favorite travel companion is The Platinum Card® from American Express, which gives me lounge access, Uber credits, upgrades, and plenty of other travel perks. If you want to find out the best travel rewards credit card for you, consider using CardMatch to instantly get matched to a travel rewards credit card that meets your travel needs.
Booking Flights

Use Skyscanner to book the cheapest flight possible. Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine as you can find flights around the globe and from every airline possible. You'll be in great shape to get the best price possible.

You must grab a free trial or join Scott's Cheap Flights Premium to get cheap flight alerts directly to your email inbox. My favorite cheap flight alert was 25,000 Delta SkyMiles to London non-stop.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It's a low cost way to ensure your travel plans go smooth no matter what's thrown at it. Use World Nomads to find the best policy for your travel schedule.
Book Your Accommodation
In order to capture the widest selection of properties and the best price, use as they have the cheapest rates for guesthouses, hotels, luxury condos, B&Bs and so much more.
Want More Destination Ideas Direct to Your Inbox?
Be sure to join the ViaTravelers Newsletter for expert tips, tricks and inspiration for your next travel journey!