Space tourism is no longer a thing of science fiction. There are dozens of companies and agencies planning to send people into space in the next few years. And the latest developments from these companies made me ask the question: what can we expect from space tourism in the future?
Will it be an experience reserved for billionaires only? Is there a way for an average human to experience being a space tourist without spending too much money? In this article, we will take a look at some of the most exciting things in the industry and talk about what you might need to do if you’re planning to become one of the earliest space tourists!
What Is Space Tourism?
Space Tourism is defined as a recreational trip outside Earth. It’s more or less made for people to experience weightlessness and see their own planet from space. Ultimately, one of the goals is to bring tourists to the moon and then to other planets, starting with Mars.
Though the industry has been around for a while, it has only recently become more accessible to the average person. By average, I mean people who aren’t rigorously trained to survive in space the way astronauts are. You still need to be filthy rich.
The industry can be divided into commercial and government-sponsored space tourism. Commercial space tourism is when civilians pay with their own cash to go on a journey while government-sponsored space tourism is when civilians are given a free ride to space by the government.
Not all space tourism companies are created equal, though. Some (like Virgin Galactic) offer suborbital flights, which means that passengers will only experience a few minutes of weightlessness and will not go into orbit around Earth. Others (like SpaceX) offer orbital flights, which means that passengers will travel around Earth and experience the full effects of space.
Space Tourism Companies in 2022
There are many space tourism companies out there, and more keep popping up every day. Here are some of the most famous companies offering trips to space in 2022:
Founded by Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic is currently one of the most popular Space Tourism providers. It offers suborbital flights that go up about 62 miles above Earth and last for about six minutes.
So far, Virgin Galactic has had over 600 customers and has completed over 65 Space Tourism flights. The company is currently valued at $2.19 billion in early 2022 but is expected to grow rapidly in the upcoming years.
Next up is SpaceX. This company was founded by Elon Musk (the founder of Tesla), and the company offers orbital space flights.
SpaceX is quickly gaining popularity due to its low cost and high quality. In fact, the company has managed to reduce the cost of space travel by a factor of ten!
So far, SpaceX has had over 100 customers and has completed over 50 Space Tourism flights. The company is currently valued at around $70 billion.
Lastly, we have Blue Origin. This company was founded by Jeff Bezos (the founder of Amazon) and offered suborbital Space Tourism flights.
So far, Blue Origin has had over 600 customers and has completed over 900 Space Tourism flights. The company is currently valued at $25 billion.
As you can see, Space Tourism is a rapidly growing industry with huge potential. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and book your ticket! Well, that is if you have a virtually endless supply of cash (and some connections that can help you to actually get a ticket).
Economic Potential of Space Tourism
As I mentioned earlier, space tourism is becoming more and more popular. The industry is said to be worth around $8 billion. I know that’s only a fraction of the total space industry’s $350 billion. But considering that space tourism has just begun, that’s a pretty impressive chunk of the pie.
There are a few reasons for its rapid growth. Firstly, the cost of space travel is dropping significantly as the technology improves. As I already mentioned, SpaceX has managed to reduce the cost of space travel by a factor of ten, which will cause the industry to be more accessible to more people, helping the industry to grow.
Secondly, there is growing demand for space tourism as people become increasingly interested in space. I mean, I think pretty much everyone has the dream of going to space, right?
And finally, many companies (like Virgin Galactic) are starting to offer suborbital flights, making them more accessible to the average person since they’re significantly cheaper than orbital flights. The tradeoff is that you can only experience weightlessness for a matter of minutes, but still, the shorter trips are a more affordable option.
All in all, the economic potential of space tourism is huge (the potential might even be endless), and it’s only going to get bigger in the coming years!
How to Become an Early Space Tourist
If you’re one of the many people who are excited about space tourism and want to become an early space tourist, there are a few things you need to do:
Save Up Some Cash (A Lot of It)
The cost of space travel is dropping rapidly, but you’ll still need at least $500,000 if you want to go on a suborbital flight with Virgin Galactic. If you want something a bit cheaper, Blue Origin (yup, Bezos’ company) is selling tickets for as low as $200,000.
I know that a $200,000 to $500,000 for a sub-orbital flight is still extremely expensive. But if you compare that to the millions that NASA spent for each astronaut sent up to space, it’s a bargin.
While it’s unlikely the cost will go down to the price of a plane ticket anytime soon, it does seem possible that the cost per person will drop down closer to $20,000 to $50,000 as capacity on space flights increase, allowing companies to pack more people on a single trip.
While tickets are still extremely limited, some of the major companies will let you add your name to a waiting list or put a deposit down to reserve a spot on trips years down the road.
Space tourism is growing rapidly, and flights are becoming more frequent, but it’s still in its early stages. It will take time for the industry to grow. Besides, if you’re not rich or influential, being patient might be your only option since it’ll take more time for tickets to become more accessible and affordable. So be patient and wait for the right opportunity! In the meantime, you can start setting money aside to cover the cost of the trip.
If you can’t be patient, you can try keeping up with all the latest news! This is what I personally call “keeping the hype up.” And it’s what I do when I look forward to technologies like solid state batteries and eco-friendly energy alternatives.
Space tourism is evolving rapidly, with new innovations and new companies coming out more and more often. So beat the boredom of being patient by staying informed so you can leap on your opportunity to go to space the moment it becomes possible.
What Can Tourists Do in Space?
So, you stashed a lot of cash and made connections that made it possible to get a ticket to space. Congratulations! Now, what can space tourists do while in space? Here are some examples:
See Earth From Above
Seeing Earth from a distance really is the dream. It gives most people a sense of both achievement and wonder (which is also why people climb the highest mountains and dive the deepest trenches on Earth).
But I imagine that seeing Earth from space is humbling at the same time. Niel Armstrong even said:
“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.”
I mean, isn’t it wonderful to imagine that going to space is a sense of achievement and wonder while also extremely humbling at the same time?
Participate in Scientific Experiments
Most of the first people in space went to space purely to try out experiments in microgravity. That’s something you can do even without buying a six figure ticket to space. There are flights by Zero-G that essentially lets people play around and do experiments in zero gravity without actually leaving Earth.
With space tourism, people can do these experiments while they’re actually in space. This means a lot for people who just really want to experience zero gravity but it’s also useful for researchers who can now go and do their experiments up in space themselves.
Stay In a Space Hotel
Hotels are directly linked to tourism, right? So if there’s space tourism, perhaps that might mean that there will also be space hotels up and running soon?
If you think that, well, you’re not wrong. Orbital Assembly Corporation plans to make a space hotel named the Voyager Station. It plans to have it up and running by 2027 (although, of course, it’s probably going to take longer than that).
Visit the Moon and Other Planets
SpaceX and other companies are racing to launch the first civilian flight to the moon by as early as 2023. While we might be a decade or more away from civilians actually setting foot on the moon, we might see it in our lifetime. And who knows, maybe we’ll even see hotels on the moon.
The same might apply to other planets like Mars. For now, Space X is working on a one-way trip to Mars for the first humans to set foot there. But maybe someday, people can go back and forth between the two planets.
I saved this for last because eating is weird in space! You can’t eat anything with crumbs and everything floats, even water. There are even videos and photos online by International Space Station (ISS) crewmembers to show how weird it is to eat in space!
Oh, a quick fact! You aren’t allowed to burp in space! At least not in the ISS. Bubbles will come out of your mouth and since that might be acidic, it might be dangerous to leave floating around.
Space Tourism is right around the corner. Granted, there are still obstacles and challenges that space tourism companies have to go through. But with the industry rapidly evolving, who knows what the future might hold? Perhaps, it might come faster than we think, or space tourism might be even better than we think.
What do you think about all the recent news about space tourism? Do you want to be a space tourist? Let us know in the comments! Thanks for reading!