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What is Space Tourism? Here’s What to Know About the Industry

What is Space Tourism? Here’s What to Know About the Industry

Space tourism is a thing. And it’s truly incredible. It’s also quite expensive—but if you have the money and the desire, you can take a trip to space. The question is, how much do you know about space tourism? There are tons of questions about this exciting new industry that need answers. So we’ve compiled everything you need to know about space tourism into one place: from who can go on these amazing trips to what it costs and whether or not they’re safe.

It’s no joke: space tourism has been a reality for the ultra-rich since 2001 when American Dennis Tito hitched a ride to ISS.

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 an American private space company called Space Adventures.

Since then, Space Adventures has flown tourists into space 7 more times, all on Soyuz ships. And now might be the year that other corporations launch spaceflights as well.

NPP Delta II Launch
Photo: gsfc

As space tourism is still a relatively new industry, there are a number of risks and safety concerns associated with it. However, many companies involved in space tourism have taken steps to mitigate these risks, and the industry is generally considered to be safe according to commercial space companies as well as governmental space agencies.

What is space tourism?

girl in outer space

Space tourism is the practice of traveling into outer space for leisure, the main difference between space tourism and space exploration is the purpose of the trip.

Space tourism is the term given to the growing trend of people traveling into space for leisure. The first paying tourist in space was Dennis Tito, who paid around $20 million to fly aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2001.

Since then, there have been many more tourists who have paid large sums of money to go on suborbital flights like Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo or Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket ship.

Space tourism is a rapidly growing industry with a number of different companies offering trips into space. These trips can be anything from suborbital flights to full orbital missions and even longer stays on the International Space Station.

How much does a trip to space cost and who can afford it?

one hundred dollar bill

Space tourism is a hot topic these days, but it’s not cheap. It can cost anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000 per person for a suborbital trip. For an orbital flight (the kind that launches you into orbit around the earth), the price is even higher: between $200 and $300 million per person.

So what’s the difference between these types of spaceflight?

Suborbital flights have lower costs because they’re shorter than orbital flights and only take passengers about 100 miles above sea level—and back down again! These trips last about 4 minutes each way (including launch time).

Orbital flights take you into low Earth orbit at least 200 miles above sea level—and as far as 250 miles from Earth—where you’ll stay for several hours before your return back home every 90 minutes or so until all fuel is used up during re-entry into our atmosphere.

Most people interested in space tourism will probably opt for suborbital flight options since they’re cheaper and safer than orbital trips which require more technology needed to make sure everyone returns safely without any harm done whatsoever.

Is space tourism safe?

Astronauts in mars

Space tourism is safe, and it’s no longer just a bold claim. It’s backed by the fact that companies like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin have been working on putting people in space for years. The companies are experts at launching rockets and returning them safely to Earth—so you can rest easy knowing you’ll be in good hands.

There’s no way to remove all risk from the launch phase of a trip, but once you’re in space, your biggest danger is from stuff like space debris and solar radiation. In fact, the National Space Society says that “space tourism may well prove to be the most cost-effective way of initiating human missions across the solar system.”

Space travel requirements

space suit

Before you can go on a space trip, you’ll need to undergo some rigorous training. This can range from a few hours of online training addition to weeks of intensive in-person training, depending on the type of trip you’re taking.

To be eligible for space tourism, you must:

  • Be a healthy adult over the age of 18.
  • Pass a physical exam, mental evaluation, and training course.
  • Pass a flight test.
  • Complete a background check and security clearance.

See Related: How to Find Cheap Flights

Advantages of space tourism

A new perspective on the world

The planet earth

Space travel provides a new perspective on the world that can be both exhilarating and empowering. It is an experience that is unmatched by anything else on Earth.

For many commercial space travelers, the highlight of their journey is the chance to witness the Earth from above. This unique perspective can give you a new appreciation for the planet’s beauty and scale. In addition, space tourism flights allow you to see human life from a new perspective.

The Overview Effect is an intellectual shift that occurs when astronauts see the Earth from space. This shift often leads to a greater sense of responsibility for protecting the planet. If you are looking for an unforgettable journey, consider booking a space tourism flight. You will not be disappointed.

A potential future on a moon or Mars colony

mars colony

A goal of space tourism is preparing for the construction of colonies on lunar or Mars as an exploratory tool and even a kind of backup plan for Earth when it is burned.

Despite the need for scientific work, the most basic people will still need to get into space for it to happen. Space tourism would be a good beginning. How can one live on the surface of an icy moon or on Earth?

Scientific Research

researching in the lab

Besides these advantages there is another reason why people go for space tourism: it can help scientists study how we live here on earth by monitoring its conditions through telescopes mounted on board these spaceships.

This is a very important aspect of space tourism that we should not forget. If we want to maintain our planet in a good state and improve the quality of life of its citizens, we need to constantly monitor it from outer space.

Disadvantages of space tourism

Cost

Euros and dollars

The cost of space tourism is prohibitively high, with some companies charging tens of thousands of dollars per seat. This means that only very wealthy individuals will be able to afford it. Additionally, the carbon footprint from all those flights could rival that of an entire country!

Noise pollution

too loud

Tourists, when on board a spacecraft or even rockets, in general, cause noise pollution for people living on Earth and other spaceships because they would be in orbit around the planet at all times (except when they were landing).

The noise created by the engines and other parts of the machinery would be carried down to Earth and other planets, causing a disturbance to people and wildlife.

A study conducted in 2015 found that noise from tourist spacecraft was loud enough to be heard on Earth and that it caused anxiety and insomnia in people who were exposed to it. In space, noise pollution can also interfere with radio communications and navigation equipment.

It is therefore important for tourists to be aware of the potential impact of their noise on those around them, and take steps to reduce it where possible.

Lack of responsibility

pointing man

These days, it seems like anyone with enough money can buy a ticket to outer space. But is this really a good thing? After all, space tourism is still a relatively new industry, and there are no real regulations in place to ensure the safety of passengers or the environment.

Furthermore, the lack of regulation means that space tourists often have little say in what they do while they’re on their trip. While space travel may be an exciting new adventure for some, it’s important to remember that it comes with its fair share of risks.

Depleting ozone layer

Ozone Layer

Many people dream of going to space, and in recent years, space tourism has become a reality for a select few. However, this new industry comes with some unexpected environmental impacts. One major cost of space tourism is its contribution to the depletion of the ozone layer.

The ozone layer is a region of Earth’s atmosphere that contains high concentrations of ozone, a gas that helps to block harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

Unfortunately, aircraft carrying tourists into low-Earth orbit (LEO) emit large amounts of carbon dioxide, which can damage the ozone layer and allow more harmful UV radiation to reach the surface of the planet. As a result, space tourism is contributing to one of the most serious environmental problems facing our planet today.

Types of space tourism

Perhaps we won’t be able to journey in space for a day yet, but we can still engage with the space tourism sector. Here’s an example of different ways you can be a space tourist too.

Stargazing

Stargazing

Stargazing is a popular space tourism activity and there are many famous stargazing locations around the world. These locations are usually in remote areas where there is little to no pollution, allowing for greater visibility of the stars. Some of these stargazing hotspots have capitalized on the tourist market and offer stargazing tours as well as other accommodations such as bubble hotels, igloos, and glamping.

People who are interested in stargazing also often visit areas where the Northern Lights or Southern Lights can be seen. Some of the spots in these areas are perfect places to do astrophotography as well.

Space travel

outer space

These days, space tourism has become more popular than ever. With so many companies offering space travel vacations, it’s no wonder why people are interested in space tourism. However, there are some things to consider before you decide to book a space travel vacation. For one, space travel is expensive. If you’re not careful, you could end up spending a lot of money on your space travel vacation.

Additionally, space travel can be dangerous. There are plenty of things that can go wrong when you’re in space, and if you’re not prepared for it, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.

Finally, space travel is very different from Earth-based travel. If you’re not used to living in space, it can be difficult to adjust.

Rocket launches

Rocket launching platform

If you find yourself traveling near a rocket launch site, you may be able to catch a glimpse of a launch. Rocket launches don’t happen every day, but if you’re in the right place at the right time, you might be lucky enough to see one. In the past, only government-controlled rocket launch companies operated.

However, with the rise of space tourism, anyone can now travel into space. If you’re interested in watching a rocket launch, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

First, make sure you are in a safe location. Launches can be dangerous, so it’s important to be as far away from the launch site as possible. Second, check the weather forecast. Cloudy conditions can block your view of the launch.

Finally, be patient. Rockets don’t always take off on schedule, so it’s important to have some time to spare. If you follow these tips, you’ll increase your chances of seeing a rocket launch during your travels.

Space museums

plane in the museum

If you’re interested in space travel, then you’ll want to check out some of the space museums around the world. The NASA space museum is a great place to start, and there are also several other space museums located in the USA and Russia. These museums offer a great opportunity to learn about space travel and the history of space exploration.

And if you’re lucky, you might even get to see some real space hardware up close! So if you’re looking for an out-of-this-world experience, be sure to check out a space museum near you.

Different Types of Space Travel

There are a number of different tourist destinations in space that are available, including the ISS, suborbital space hotels, and orbital resorts. Prices for these vary depending on the length of stay and the amenities that are included.

Space tourism is an exciting new way to travel and there are a number of different options available to suit any budget. Whether you’re looking for a short suborbital flight or a longer stay at an orbital resort, there’s a space trip that’s perfect for you.

Sub-orbital space tourism

"Cargo

Sub-orbital space travel is all about the experience. You’ll experience weightlessness, see the earth from space and perhaps even see the curvature of the earth.

You’ll have a great time! It’s an exciting journey of self-fulfillment and a great story to tell: “I went to space.” Hundreds of future earthlings have already plunked down the full price of a ticket for the flight. But what exactly will you experience on sub-orbital space travel? 

First, you need to know that sub-orbital space travel only takes you about 62 miles above Earth’s surface. So, you won’t actually be going into “outer space.” However, you will be experiencing weightlessness for a few minutes as your vehicle reaches the apex of its journey. And, while 62 miles might not sound like much, it’s actually quite high up! From this vantage point, you will be able to see Earth’s horizon and perhaps even the curvature of our planet. 

But sub-orbital space travel isn’t just about seeing Earth from above. It’s also about fulfilling a lifelong dream of going to space! For many people, this is a bucket list item and something they’ve

Orbital flights

The Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Orbital space tourism is the ultimate experience. You can expect to spend between $200,000 and $250,000 for a 20-minute ride that takes you 150 miles above Earth and back again in about six minutes.

It’s less risky than suborbital travel because you don’t have to deal with the “risks” of reentry into Earth’s atmosphere from space. In fact, there are no real risks involved, so long as you’re willing to pay up! If you’re not willing to pay up then why are we even talking right now?

The first orbital space tourism flight is scheduled for 2022. The company behind it plans to send people into low-Earth orbit aboard a new vehicle called Dream Chaser. This rocket-powered spacecraft will be launched on top of another rocket (such as an Atlas V rocket) that has been modified to accommodate passengers.

Once it reaches its destination point in space, passengers will enjoy a few minutes of weightlessness before returning safely back down to Earth. 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), several space companies are already taking reservations now for their first private moon expedition.

Depending on the company, 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.

The price of tickets for this type of journey? It’s estimated to be around $150,000,000.

Pad A, Launch Complex 39
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

What companies are making trips to space a reality?

There are a few companies that are making commercial space tourism a reality. SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic are the most well-known ones. The space industry, in general, has changed dramatically since the olden days. Now, space flight is primarily dominated by private sector companies, such as the aforementioned names.

They’re all taking different routes to get there; here’s how each company plans on serving the growing demand in the space tourism industry.

SpaceX

SpaceX

SpaceX is a private company that builds and launches rockets into space. In order to understand its role in space tourism, it’s important to know that SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk—the same man who also founded PayPal and Tesla Motors.

SpaceX is one of the most successful private companies in the world. It designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft for commercial and government customers.

SpaceX has developed a family of launch vehicles and spacecraft that includes Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Dragon, Starlink, and Falcon Heavy. These vehicles deliver satellites to orbit, enable human space exploration missions to the Moon and Mars as well as provide global internet connectivity.

In addition to its launch services business, SpaceX also conducts research into reusable rocket technology through its development of the BFR. This vehicle will be used to transport astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

Blue Origin

Blue Origin logo

Blue Origin is a private spaceflight company founded by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com. The company has developed a reusable rocket called New Glenn that will be able to take people to space. Blue Origin is currently in the process of constructing a launch site in Florida and plans to begin launching New Glenn in 2020.

The rocket will be capable of carrying up to 100 passengers to low Earth orbit and will be able to fly multiple times without needing to be refurbished. Blue Origin plans to use New Glenn for a variety of applications, including satellite launches, space tourism, and human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. If you’re looking for an opportunity to travel to space, Blue Origin may be worth keeping an eye on.

Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic Logo

Virgin Galactic is making history and taking travelers to space like never before. They are the first company licensed to fly passengers to space – making Virgin Galactic a true pioneer in the industry.

Virgin Galactic’s fleet of SpaceShipTwo spacecraft is small but growing, meaning that more and more people will be able to experience space travel in the near future.

The company has a proven track record of success, having flown a number of successful test flights. Virgin Galactic is quickly becoming the go-to choice for those looking to fulfill their dream of space travel.

See Related: Top Tips for Beating Post-Travel Blues

Conclusion

Although space tourism is not for everyone, it can be a great adventure. Space is one of the most exciting places on Earth and when you travel there, you will see the world in an entirely new way. You’ll get to experience things that no one else does and interact with astronauts who are actually doing what they love for a living.

If you’re looking to take a trip to space, you might want to wait a while. The prices are high and only getting higher as more companies enter the market.

If you decide that this kind of trip is for you, then go ahead and book your flight! Just remember: space is expensive so make sure that this really is something you want to do before committing any money or time to plan a trip.

FAQs

Does commercial space travel exist today?

Yes, commercial space travel exists today and is becoming increasingly popular, but it still has limited options.

Who was the first space tourist?

The first space tourist was Dennis Tito, an American businessman, and former aerospace engineer. He paid $20 million to visit the International Space Station on April 28, 2001.

What is space tourism?

Space tourism is the term used for traveling into space for recreational purposes. Space tourists typically pay a high price for their tickets and receive training from a professional astronaut or cosmonaut before their journey.

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