How close are we to accessible space tourism?
The idea of jumping up to space for your next holiday always seemed like a distant sci-fi dream and one that would never be possible within our lifetimes. But the recent successful billionaire crewed space flights to the edge of space from Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin mean that civilian trips to space could be closer than you think. There are now tickets available for seats for space adventures, as well as plans for orbiting space hotels to be constructed and open to guests as soon as in the next five years!
Fly Me to the Moon
The race between multi-billionaires is bringing space travel closer to a reality than it ever was before. In July 2021, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin both launched their billionaire founders (Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos) in suborbital space, approximately 100km above earth. Both performed successful flights and both companies have an ambitious dream of making space tourism a commercially viable business. Launch technology will play a crucial role as to whether space tourism can be commercialised. The technology needs to become cheaper, faster for pre-launch and scalable in terms of production. Blue Origins development of reusable rockets has already significantly lowered launch costs, being successfully used in the July launch. In addition, China has funded over 100 start-ups to develop reusable rockets to make this more viable. It’s only as technology like this continues to develop that we will ever begin to see a rise in flights with a zero-gravity destination.
Heavenly Views from your Hotel Room
As interest in space travel increases, so does the desire to have an actual holiday up in the stars and there are already plans in the works by multiple companies looking to create gravity defying hotels. The Gateway Foundation has a grand vision for the future of humankind having access to a life in space and one project that they currently have underway is the goal of being the first to open a luxury hotel in space, named Voyager Station. The organisation intends to begin construction in 2026 by Orbital Assembly Corporation, a new construction company run by former pilot John Blincow, who also heads up the Gateway Foundation. The 50,000-square-meter rotating ring-shaped structure will give the hotel the gravity equivalent of one-sixth of the Earth’s, giving guests the same ‘zero gravity’ sensation they would have on the moon. While The Gateway Foundation have admitted that space travel will only be for the uber-rich for the next several years, they have a goal to eventually make space travel accessible to everyone.
“We’re trying to make the public realize that this golden age of space travel is just around the corner. It’s coming. It’s coming fast.” Blincow told CNN in an interview.
Currently, it appears as though, at least for the first few years, space travel will only be accessible for the uber-rich with tickets already being sold at an eyewatering cost. Virgin Galactic has already sold tickets for suborbital flights for as much as $250,000 and one of the four tickets for Blue Origin’s July flight was auctioned for $28m. This trend will likely continue for the immediate future until technology is developed and lowered in price to be able to commercialise space tourism. But, there are people and companies all over the world working on space travel futures, so in the meantime, we will just eagerly wait to learn more.