Space tourism: Everything you need to know about the imminent future that's out of this world
The race is on
Ground control to Major Tom, the earth is very close to making space travel a normality. In fact, tickets are already up for grabs, with the right amount of spare cash you have lying around. We're talking US 250,000 per head. Of course, the top 1% of the human race are first in line; simply because space tourism isn't cheap. Albeit distant, but still a reality we can look forward to.
But what can we expect? Getting shoved up a rocket? Weightless somersaults for days? Well, the good news is — there's more than one way to fly in space. Here are our options, that is if we're game to devote our entire life savings to a ticket taking off from earth.
Touching the edge of space
$$: From $250,000
The proper term is sub-orbital. You're not making an official orbit, but close enough for Instagrammable-out-of-this-world pictures. Moments of weightlessness? Definitely. Virgin Galactic (founded by Richard Branson) has already had it all figured out — starting from their first takeoff from the world's first commercial spaceport in the New Mexico desert.
Their mission statement goes like this: "In time, we expect to be operating a variety of vehicles from multiple locations to cater for the demands of the growing space-user community, whether that be transporting passengers to Earth-orbiting hotels and science laboratories, or providing a world-shrinking, transcontinental service." What the last bit means is that the spaceflight company intends to catapult people from continent to continent instead of long-haul flights. Sounds like a whole lot of fun.
Vying for the same slice of the pie is Blue Origin, created by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. We hear up to six travellers can fit in a circular capsule, which will be launched into space with a reusable rocket. Bonus points for being eco-friendly.
To the moon and back
Say what you will about Elon Musk, but the man's vision has paid off — big time. The multihyphenate is about to make major progress with his aerospace manufacturer SpaceX in a fully-booked flight to the moon slated in 2023. While it certainly wouldn't feel like First Class in the SpaceX rocket (mainly because the capsule extends to no more than 3.5m wide), it is a milestone for the company. But here's the catch, Musk has commented that the success rate isn't exactly at a hundred.
We'll wait to hear from Japanese billionaire, Yusaku Maezawa, who has taken the gamble to be SpaceX's very first passenger.
Living it up in space
If you like, the first non-astronaut man to travel to space, Dennis Tito, have millions to spare, US company Space Adventures is the golden standard to follow. What you're essentially getting isn't just a joy ride to space and back, but a ten-day vacation 250 miles up on the International Space Station. The mode of transportation? A Russian Soyuz shuttle. Hopefully by 2022, a hotel (supposedly by Roscosmos) will open its doors with four private cabins, fitness appliances, bathrooms and WiFi to boot. That sounds a lot like a luxury to have in space.