The concept of space tourism is one of the most exciting emerging features of the wider tourism industry, and companies like Virgin Galactic and SpaceX are already making waves by outlining plans to deliver various forms of commercial spaceflight in the near future. In this article, you will find out more about the space tourism industry, its history, the companies that are most likely to deliver on it, and what the future has in store.
- What is Space Tourism?
- A Brief History of Space Tourism
- 5 Space Tourism Companies That Will Make You An Astronaut
- Space Tourism Companies That Didn’t Make It
- List of Aerospace and Space Tourism Companies
- Live Video: Watch the Earth From Nasa Space Station
- How to Book a Ticket for a Space Flight
- How to Book Your Space Hotel
- Space Tourism and the Wider Space Industry
- Who Was the First Space Tourist?
What is Space Tourism?
Put simply, space tourism refers to the activity of travelling into space for recreational purposes. It is sometimes referred to as citizen space exploration, personal spaceflight, or commercial human spaceflight, and it covers spaceflights that are sub-orbital, orbital, and even beyond Earth orbit.
Some definitions also include hypothetical future spaceflights that are undertaken for business purposes.
While the concept of space tourism still sounds futuristic, it actually already has an established history. So far, however, the Russian Space Agency is the only company that has successfully facilitated orbital space tourism. This primarily took place in the early 2000s, during which time seven space tourists were taken into space.
5 Space Tourism Companies That Will Make You An Astronaut
The concept of space tourism is growing in popularity all the time, and there are a growing number of businesses engaging in activities within the space tourism industry. For those who are hoping to one-day visit space as a private astronaut, the following five companies may offer the best chance of achieving that dream.
1. Virgin Galactic
Part of the wider Virgin Group, the Virgin Galactic space tourism company is aiming to provide regular suborbital spaceflights for paying customers. Its current spaceplane, VSS Unity, entered outer space in December 2018 as part of its testing process, bringing the possibility of regular commercial spaceflights closer.
The company already has an extensive waiting list of people wishing to become space tourists, with an initial deposit of £200,000 required to secure a place on this list. However, Virgin Galactic has not been entirely without issues, including multiple delays and the in-flight loss of its VSS Enterprise spaceplane in 2014.
More detailed information about Virgin Galactic, you can read in the article “Virgin Galactic: Information About Virgin Space Flights”.
SpaceX is already hugely experienced when it comes to launching space-bound flights and the company is also hoping to get on board the space tourism bandwagon. However, unlike most other companies operating in this field, they are prioritising lunar tourism and other forms of space travel extending beyond Earth orbit.
In 2017, the company’s founder, Elon Musk, announced his intentions to send two paying customers on a trip around the moon on an inaugural lunar tourism mission. The mission was initially planned for 2018, but has since been delayed. SpaceX has not yet revealed any pricing strategy or waiting list for lunar trips.
More detailed information about SpaceX, you can read in the article “SpaceX Information: Rockets, Spacecrafts and Spaceflights”.
3. Blue Origin
To date, Blue Origin has been the main competitor for Virgin Galactic in terms of sub-orbital space travel tourism. However, their offering is based around a more traditional rocket, known as the New Shepard, which takes off and lands vertically, and their objectives are to build towards orbital spaceflight.
As with Virgin Galactic, the space tourism company has performed several test flights and is planning to put paying passengers into space soon. However, unlike Virgin Galactic, they have not started taking money for tickets. Their plans involve placing up to six passengers on each flight, with room to perform weightless somersaults.
More detailed information about Blue Origin, you can read in the article “Blue Origin: Information About Blue Origin Space Flights”.
4. Orion Span
Finally, Orion Span is a space travel company in the United States, which announced plans for a private commercial space station, called the Aurora Space Station. This would be placed in low Earth orbit and would effectively function as a space hotel, which would be able to host up to six space tourists at a time.
While the plans are still in the provisional stages, the company has already sold out several months’ worth of hotel reservations. The total cost of a space hotel reservation currently stands at more than £7 million. At present, Orion Span says it is hoping to host its first paying guests at the Aurora Space Station in the year 2022.
More detailed information about Origin Span, you can read in the article “Orion Span: Information About Orion Span Space Hotel”.
The Boeing Company emerged as a major player in the space tourism industry when it signed an agreement with NASA as part of its Commercial Crew Development programme. This programme was designed to increase involvement from private sector companies in the production of crew vehicles to be launched into orbit.
As part of the agreement, Boeing started work on the development of a crew capsule, called the Boeing CST-100 Starliner. Crucially, the company’s contract with NASA provides them with the opportunity to sell seats to space tourists, with the idea being that at least one space tourist would participate in each future space mission.
Space Tourism Companies That Didn’t Make It
While the five companies above all have interesting proposals – and most have produced promising results through early testing – it is worth remembering that these are not the only companies that have made such plans. Indeed, below, you will find out about several space tourism companies that did not achieve their goals.
1. Galactic Suite Space Resort
Founded in 2007, the Galactic Suite Space Resort was a concept that was originally devised by the Barcelona-based space tourism company, Galactic Suite Design. Much like the aforementioned Aurora Space Station project from Orion Span, it was intended to be a space station that would function as a hotel for space tourists.
The company initially set a goal of 2012 for the first launch, but that was met with widespread scepticism from within the space travel industry. Ultimately, the company failed to even acquire a rocket system capable of transporting passengers, and the project slowly faded away before being permanently cancelled.
2. The Golden Spike Company
Established in 2010, the Golden Spike Company was a space tourism company set up to provide commercial space travel to the surface of the moon. It originally made the extent of these ambitions known at a press conference in 2012, and the company even had connections with various former NASA employees.
Response to its early announcements was mixed, with some sources claiming they were credible, while others criticised their unrealistic budget estimates. Ultimately, the company failed to gain traction and ceased all serious operations in 2013. The main Golden Spike website was then taken offline two years later.
3. XCOR Aerospace
Finally, XCOR Aerospace was one of the first space tourism companies to gain widespread media attention. It had a number of different projects and proposals, but its most famous was the proposed Lynx spacecraft, announced in 2008. This was to be a horizontal take-off spacecraft, which was hoped to be capable of sub-orbital spaceflights.
The company initially expected to roll out a prototype of the spacecraft in 2015, but ran into financial difficulties and began laying off staff the following year. Prototype development of the Lynx vehicle was never completed and XCOR Aerospace eventually filed for bankruptcy in 2017.
List of Aerospace and Space Tourism Companies
The space tourism industry is gathering pace fast, as a growing number of organisations seek to deliver on the aim of putting paying customers into space. Moreover, there are a number of aerospace companies that are either exploring this option, or helping to develop the technology that will enable space tourism companies to operate.
Read “Aerospace Companies: List of Aircraft and Spacecraft Manufacturers” for a more comprehensive view of the various aerospace companies that exist, including those involved in spacecraft manufacturing and space tourism.
In the short-term, it is likely that space travel tourism will continue to grow in popularity, and that companies like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin will deliver sub-orbital spaceflight for paying customers. Meanwhile, orbital spaceflight will also be pursued by several enterprises, with Boeing among them.
Looking further ahead, however, interest in the space tourism industry is likely to really take off when space tourism extends beyond Earth orbit, especially if lunar missions become financially and logistically feasible.
With that being said, it is worth pointing out that space travel is likely to remain extremely expensive for the foreseeable future. It is also physically demanding, which will mean it will only be available to people who pass fitness tests and undergo training programmes in preparation for their flight.
Live Video: Watch the Earth From Nasa Space Station
For most people space tourism is still out of reach. Fortunately, you can already admire the earth from space through the live feeds from Nasa ;).
Video: NASA ISS Live Stream – Earth From Space
As the concept of space tourism becomes a more realistic prospect, there is a growing anticipation among those who wish to enjoy the trip of a lifetime. So how close are we to being able to make the trip into outer space and what is the process like for actually booking a commercial space flight?
Read our article, “Space Flight: How to Book a Ticket into Space”, for more information on offerings from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and Boeing, along with information on how you can actually book your seat on a spacecraft.
The concept of space tourism opens up the possibility of not only travelling into space, but actually staying there. Already, there are a number of proposals for space hotels and accommodation for tourists, including Orion Span’s luxury space hotel and even the International Space Station (ISS), which was visited by the first space tourist.
Check out “Space Hotel: How to Book a Hotel in Space”, where you will be able to obtain more details about the various proposals for overnight stays in space, along with important info on how you can book your stay.
Space tourism is a fast-growing area of the wider space industry and it can be advantageous for those with an interest in visiting space to understand the industry as a whole. After all, the tourism opportunities offered by aerospace companies are being provided on the back of enormous achievements in the 20th century and early 21st century.
To find out more about the space industry, its history, the role of space tourism within the industry, and the main companies operating in the sector, read “Space Industry: The No. 1 Guide into Space!”
Who Was the First Space Tourist?
The idea of space tourism has been taken to a whole new level by proposals from companies like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Orion Span. However, the very first space tourist actually travelled into space way back in 2001, when American Dennis Tito paid millions of dollars to the Russian Space Agency.
You can find out much more about the story of Dennis Tito’s trip to space and the origins of space tourism as a concept by reading the “Space Tourist: Who Was the First Tourist in Space?” article.
Over the course of the next decade, space tourism is likely to become a reality, thanks to companies like Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and Blue Origin, which are all set to offer their own ways for paying customers to travel into space. That, in turn, could eventually lead to further developments, such as lunar tourism and even Mars tourism.
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