Could Traveling to Outer Space be the Next Big Vacation Concept?
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel to space? The thrill of seeing earth from so far away. The feeling of weightlessness without the gravitational pull of the earth. At some point in the next few years, this will become possible for some people, without the need to become a career astronaut. Space Adventures, a space tourism company, has helped several people experience space travel in Russia, and has recently reached an agreement with SpaceX to help create the private tourism trips. It may still take a few years before everything is finalized, but progress is being made in tourism trips to space.
If you haven't heard of SpaceX, you are not alone. SpaceX is a private space exploration company, led by CEO Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla. SpaceX is not alone in this venture, as competing companies Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are also looking towards the future of tourist travel to outer space. Blue Origin was founded by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Virgin Galactic was founded by Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group. All three of these companies have been in the works of exploring space travel since the closing of NASA's space shuttle program. SpaceX seems to be the leader in these explorations, having successfully launched the Falcon Heavy into space, as well as contracted with NASA to shuttle astronauts to the International Space Station once the SpaceX shuttles pass inspection. This Crew Dragon flight has been delayed, but is still expected to happen later this year.
SpaceX had originally planned to send 2 private customers to space in 2018, to travel around the moon and back to earth. This was setback with delays and technological problems. One of these people is still expected to make the journey, but in a new rocket that has yet to be built, so it will still be some time before this happens. In addition to the trip around the moon, SpaceX is expected to offer a flight trip that will orbit the earth, giving a full view to passengers of the enormity of the planet from outer space.
What about Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic?
Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are planning to provide similar trips to outer space, but on a slightly different scale. The trips are expected to be much shorter and also a bit more affordable. They would essentially take you into outer space, giving you a chance to feel the effects away from gravity, as well as a look at the earth from outer space, before transcending back down to earth. These shorter trips are still expected to cost several hundred thousand dollars.
What Can You Expect On These Trips?
There is much that is still unknown about tourism in space, as the industry is just beginning. Here are a few things that we are expecting though. For starters, the big bulky space-suits that you have seen in the movies, those wont be necessary. Instead, technology has allowed for a much slimmer suit that is still flame resistant, cooled and pressurized as the original models were. The spacecraft are also expected to have an emphasis on windows, through size and/or quantity. After all, you are on a trip to explore space, the more of it that you can see, the better the bang for your buck. The interiors are also expected to be minimally furnished, allowing for a focus on the safety and durability of the craft, not the aesthetics. This is said to include mounted chairs that the suits will lock into for takeoff and landing, as well as touchscreens for interactive displays and information.
The idea of touring outer space is becoming closer to a reality each day. Unfortunately, it seems like it is still quite a ways off for anybody who doesn't have a few hundred thousand dollars lying around for vacation expenses. As the process becomes streamlined though, shuttle sizes will increase, costs will decrease and this may be no more expensive than taking a cruise at some point. Until then, we can just look forward to new breakthroughs in space exploration and stories brought to us by those fortunate enough to experience it.