Space Tourism Now
Space tourism is a recent phenomenon where
wealthy individuals or corporations are spending up to $51
million for a chance to travel in low Earth orbit (LEO)
and beyond. California multi-millionaire Dennis
Tito spent $20 million on space tourism to become the
first paying tourist, in 2001. Tito, the founder of Wilshire
Associates and former JPL scientist, traveled aboard a Russian
Soyuz capsule, launched by U. S. company, Space
Adventures, Ltd, where he spent 7 days aboard the International
Space Station (ISS).
Space tourism will be a $1 billion industry
Extraterrestrial tourism has become a bigger goal over
the past few years as NASA has stopped the ventures and
the Shuttle was retired in 2011.
NASA hopes to rely on the commercial orbital transportation
systems (COTS) to shuttle astronauts and cargo to the ISS
thereafter and it looks like commercial craft will be available
If you've ever seen Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie "Total
Recall" you'll know that tourism to outer space was
a central theme to that movie. But, this is not just some
pipe dream as companies like Scaled
Origin, and SpaceX
are developing craft and programs to do just this.
Following Dennis Tito as the second
tourist in outer space, in 2002 was South African millionaire,
Mark Shuttleworth, who certainly was "shuttle worthy"
as he also spent around $20 million to travel aboard a Russian
Soyuz TM-34 and spend 8 days aboard the ISS.
Following Shuttleworth in 2005, was Greg Olsen, who spent
the same amount on tourism to travel to the ISS via a Russian
Soyuz capsule. And space flights for tourists have not stopped
there, as the third fee-paying tourist, Olsen rejected the
"tourist" designation noting that he had conducted
several experiments while on the ISS. Olsen is co-founder
and chairman of Sensors Unlimited Inc., a company developing
infared cameras and sensors. In 2006, Iran-born American
citizen Anousheh Ansari became the fourth in the ISS tourism
lineup and the first female to buy a ticket to the ISS.
Some have argued that John Glenn
in 1998 was the first official extraterrestrial tourist,
but others discount that claim since Glenn was a non-paying
participant in the flight. If you think also that space
tourism is so expensive that nobody will want to go, then
think again since there is a waiting list to be launched
into LEO and aboard the ISS.
Tourism to space has been
criticized as being a "playground for the rich."
And, while there may be some current truth to this,
the vision for the future is to make the industry
affordable and available to the middle class in just
a few, short years. While 'N Sync singer Lance Bass
may have fallen short of cash and Madonna was voted
down in her request, still many companies are working
on making suborbital flights affordable to the general
Tired of Disneyland and Magic Mountain? Been to all the
major continents and want more? Done all of the extreme
sports and just can't get that adrenaline rush anymore?
Suborbital flight may just be the Next Big Thing on your
agenda in the not too distant future.
Even Bigelow Aerospace and the X-Prize Foundation are getting
in on the act by offering monetary awards for breakthrough
technology in the space tourism industry.
Race to LEO ...
Suborbital flight will be a reality as soon as 2014. Just
as there was a "race to space" decades ago, now
there is a race to LEO in this decade. And this race will
mean big bucks for some companies.
So, if you've got the bug to travel and have always dreamed
of going beyond the confines of Earth, that possibility may
just exist sooner than you think.
A few companies are actually accepting reservations (with
a deposit) now. Isn't it time you jumped onboard?
Updated October 09, 2013