Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos recently made headlines when each billionaire successfully traveled to space. Branson’s company, Virgin Galactic, helped to fund the SpaceShipTwo, which he launched with three fellow crew members. Bezos, the founder of Amazon, took flight with his three-member crew on Blue Origin's New Shepard launch vehicle. SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, plans to use its Starship rocket to fly 100 people around the world in mere minutes. These expeditions are not only incredibly costly, but rare, and most civilians won’t win the lottery or have billions of dollars for the trip. So what does the future of space tourism hold? Here's a breakdown of who is going, how to get there, and what you can do if you can't get to space.
The Future of Space Tourism
What will the future of space travel look like? A handful of companies are competing for space tourism, including Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, and SpaceX. The NewSpace industry expects the space tourism market to be worth at least $3 billion by 2030. And while A-listers, the wealthy, and researchers have the means to access space now, the future of space travel looks bright for all citizens.
When Will I Be Able to Go to Space?
The good news is that civilian space travel is becoming more popular – and more attainable. The success of the Virgin Galactic means that we're closer than ever, with the first flights reported to be departing in early 2022. According to the company, 600 people from 58 countries have active reservations to travel to space. And it's reported that SpaceX is partnering with Space Adventures to send four tourists to low Earth orbit for a few days in late 2021 or early next year.
How Much Does it Cost to Go to Space?
So, how much will it set you back to get to space? A lot, depending on where you're planning to go: A ticket to space could cost anywhere from $250,000 to tens of millions of dollars.
Virgin Galactic's first wave of space tourists, mentioned above, paid between $200,000 and $250,000 per ticket, according to company reports. Many of these tickets are said to be reserved by celebrities including Ashton Kutcher, Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, and Leonardo DiCaprio. If you aren't an A-Lister or a billionaire, Virgin Galactic is having a raffle drawing for two seats on the first flights. Entrants can make a donation to Space for Humanity by September 1, 2021 to enter the giveaway. It's reported that a seat bid for the Blue Origin went for a whopping $28 million figure. But if you want to spend more than a handful of minutes in space, you'll have to shell out millions of dollars; according to The Washington Post, Axiom Space is charging $55 million per ticket.
And How Do I Buy a Ticket To Space?
According to Astronomy.com, there are six ways to buy a ticket to space. The following companies are competing to sell space tourists trips on private spacecraft: Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, Blue Origin, Axiom, Boeing, and Space Adventures.
If I Can’t Get to Space Now, What Can I Do Instead?
If you can't make it to space right now, there are a ton of cool vacation ideas for space lovers. Huntsville, Alabama, plays home to a space camp for both adults and kids. In New York City, there's Enterprise, the first space shuttle, which never actually went into space. The Enterprise can be found at the impressive Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, built on the retired aircraft carrier that served as NASA recovery vessel in the 1960s. Additionally, multiple space shuttles can be visited across the United States, including the Atlantis in Titusville, Florida; the Endeavor in Los Angeles; and the Discovery in Chantilly, Virginia.
The NASA Space Center in Houston has more than 400 things to see and do at its space and science exploration learning center. This includes the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exhibit, the Starship Gallery, Mission Mars, and so much more.
And we can't forget to mention Walt Disney World. The Star Tours attraction at Hollywood Studios is a Star Wars-themed space travel stimulator that transports riders through different planets from a galaxy far, far away. At Epcot, the Mission: SPACE attraction simulates a trip to Mars.
Finally, hotels are even getting involved in a love for all-things space. Sonoma’s Montage Healdsburg is offering a $95,000 astrotourism experience. The Sky’s the Limit package is designed for up to six guests and includes: private roundtrip flights and airport transfers via Jet Edge; two nights in the resort’s three-bedroom Guest House; a dinner; a private tour of the Robert Ferguson Observatory and use of telescopes; and a two-hour photography session with astrophotographer Rachid Dahnoun.