Space tourism – well-funded space companies are working towards turning it into reality

Published on : Friday, July 27, 2018

Space tourismAmerican engineer and businessman Dennis Tito paid US$20m in 2001 to become the world’s first official space tourist. He travelled to the International Space Station (ISS) on a Russian Soyuz capsule and spent eight days on board. After Tito, six other commercial passengers have visited the ISS – each on Soyuz spacecraft spending US$20m. After 2009, the Russians halted the practice. But now commercial space travel, although at a lower orbit, would start again with a price tag that even the average multi-millionaire might be able to afford.

For ordinary people, commercial space travel might seem like a distant dream, but at an embryonic level, a few well-funded space companies are doing everything to make it possible. Jeff Bezos has announced that a passenger flying with his aerospace company, Blue Origin, will pay between US$200,000 and US$300,000 for a ticket – comparable to Virgin Galactic’s proposed price of US$250,000. Passengers will experience weightlessness for three to six minutes, with incomparable views of the stars and the curvature of the Earth.

However, most of these space tourism products and technologies are still in their early stages, so for a commercial company setting a price is a delicate balancing act.

The New Shepard rocket which Blue Origin plans to use for commercial trips has been in development since 2006. The shuttle will carry six commercial astronauts on each launch, and these launches cost tens of millions of US dollars. Jeff Bezos reportedly liquidates around US$1 billion per year to fund Blue Origin, and the cost of the company’s New Glenn rocket alone was US$2.5 billion.


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