The relatively recent rise of companies like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin has opened up the very realistic prospect of becoming a space tourist. However, the very first space tourist actually visited space all the way back in 2001. Here, you can find out more about space tourism and the story of the world’s first space tourist.
- Space Travel: The History in a Nutshell
- An Introduction to Space Tourism
- Who Was the First Space Tourist?
- Video: The World’s First Space Tourist
- Companies That Could Help You to Become a Space Tourist
- Video: How Do You Train to Become a Space Tourist
- Video: What is Like to be Weightless?
- Your Complete Guide to the Space Industry
Space Travel: The History in a Nutshell
While research into space travel goes back further, the history of space travel began in the second half of the 20th century, as rockets were developed with sufficient power to reach space. The 1950s brought about a number of important milestones, including in 1957, when the Soviet Union put the Sputnik 1 satellite into orbit.
Progress after that was extremely quick, as the United States and the Soviet Union became locked in a space race. Just four years later, in 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth and the same year, Alan Shepard became the first American to fly in space. The next challenge was landing a human on the Moon.
Throughout the 1960s, various space missions sent unmanned spacecraft to the Moon. In 1968, the United States’ Apollo 8 mission sent Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders to the Moon for the first time. They orbited without landing and then returned to Earth safely, paving the way for what came next.
In 1969, the historic Apollo 11 mission saw Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins fly to the Moon. Collins remained in orbit, while Armstrong and Aldrin landed, with Armstrong becoming the first man to walk on the Moon’s surface. In the decades since, Mars has become the next objective and NASA have landed various lunar rovers on the planet, with the long-term ambition of landing humans there.
The 21st century also brought about the reality of ordinary people travelling into space for the first time, and this concept opens up the real possibility that you could become a space tourist in the near future.
An Introduction to Space Tourism
While most of the history of space travel has involved space agencies travelling into space for exploration and research, a more recent development has seen a number of people travel into space for fun. In simple terms, this means the individuals pay money in order to experience space travel for themselves.
This has been referred to as space tourism or commercial space travel. As with conventional tourism, the aim here is to enjoy a pleasurable experience, while companies providing these services are aiming to make a profit.
If the idea of becoming a space tourist sounds like something from a science fiction novel, it is important to highlight the fact that space tourism has already been carried out, with the Russian Space Agency taking a total of seven paying customers into space between 2001 and 2010. More recently, private companies have been proposing the same.
You can learn about commercial space flight, the history of space tourism, the various proposals from private companies and more by reading “Space Tourism: 5 Space Companies That Will Make You An Astronaut”
Who Was the First Space Tourist?
To some, the idea of organisations taking paying customers into space may seem ambitious, but in reality, space tourism has already occurred, thanks to several trips provided by the Russian Space Agency. The very first example of this occurred in 2001, when American millionaire Dennis Tito travelled to the International Space Station.
Tito’s ambition to travel into space as a paying customer hit some initial roadblocks, however. NASA refused his request on the basis of his age and the fact that he was not a trained astronaut. Eventually, he convinced the Russian Space Agency to take him and in total, he spent eight days in space, with several days spent on the ISS.
Dennis Tito described visiting space as his main ambition in life. “I hope that tens of thousands of people can experience what I experienced, for five percent of the cost,” he told the BBC World Service. It was a sense of completeness – from then on, everything is a bonus. And I think I am one of the happiest humans alive because of that.”
It is reported that Tito paid $20 million for the privilege. In subsequent years, six other people made the trip into space thanks to the Russian Space Agency. However, the agency put its space tourism services on hold in 2010. More recently, a number of private aerospace companies have proposed offering paid trips to space and back.
Video: The World’s First Space Tourist
Companies That Could Help You to Become a Space Tourist
Below, you will be able to learn more about some of the biggest aerospace companies that will be offering people the opportunity to become a space tourist in the years ahead.
Virgin Galactic was created in 2004 with the aim of providing customers with access to sub-orbital space flights. The company, which forms part of the British multinational Virgin Group, completed its first successful suborbital test flight in 2018. The following year its VSS Unity spaceplane carried three people into outer space.
These test flights mean Virgin Galactic is a front runner in the race to provide regular space tourist services. To learn more, why not read “Virgin Galactic: Information About Virgin Space Flights”?
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is another of the major companies aiming to provide space tourism services and the company’s list of achievements is already hugely impressive. SpaceX became the first private company to ever put a human into orbit, and later also became the first private enterprise to successfully send humans to the International Space Station.
To find out much more about the history of SpaceX, the company’s various successes and its plans for providing space tourism services, check out “SpaceX Information: Rockets, Spacecrafts and Spaceflights”.
The Boeing Company is best-known for designing and manufacturing aircraft, but it is also heavily involved in the space industry, producing satellites and launch systems. The Boeing Starliner is one of the company’s more recent creations and will serve as a reusable crew capsule for any future space tourist operations.
Boeing is hoping to use the Starliner to provide travel to private space stations and even the International Space Station soon. A recent deal with NASA to gain ISS access has meant this is now much closer to occurring.
Blue Origin is another example of a highly innovative company, backed by serious financial might. The organisation was created by Jeff Bezos, who also founded Amazon, and has developed its own New Shepard vertical take-off rocket. Again, the eventual aim is to provide regular space tourist services for those with enough money.
More information about Blue Origin’s origins, its past achievements and its future ambitions to deliver commercial space travel can be read in “Blue Origin: Information About Blue Origin Space Flights“.
Orion Span is a relatively new company, which is proposing a different experience for the space tourist of the near future. The organisation is looking to put the Aurora Space Station into orbit and then use it as a luxury space hotel, allowing people to not only travel to space, but stay in comfortable accommodation.
If you would like to find out more about Orion Span’s Aurora Space Station proposal and the details of the space hotel concept, check out “Orion Span: Information About Orion Span Space Hotel”.
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a collaborative project between a number of space agencies around the world. However, while NASA does not own the ISS, it has historically opposed its use for space tourist activities. This recently changed and the space agency has now given the green light for commercial ventures to take place.
Alongside this shift in attitude, NASA signed agreements with both SpaceX and Boeing, allowing the two companies to sell stays on the ISS. This will effectively enable them to use it as a space hotel for their customers.
Video: How Do You Train to Become a Space Tourist :)
Video: What is Like to be Weightless?
Your Complete Guide to the Space Industry
While the idea of becoming a space tourist is hugely exciting, it is worth noting that it is not the only way to become involved in space travel and space exploration. In actual fact, the space industry is increasingly diverse and includes government agencies, private enterprises, manufacturing companies, service providers and more.
To learn about exactly what the space industry is, what the different sub-sections are, who the main aerospace companies are, and the history of space travel as a concept, read “Space Industry: The No. 1 Guide into Space!”
Dennis Tito’s trip into space in 2001 represents a major milestone in both space travel and tourism as a whole, as he became recognised as the world’s first space tourist. Several others have since joined him on that exclusive list, but a number of private companies are aiming to make space travel a much more common experience in the near future.