Space tourists are different from astronauts; in they go to space only for leisure, or recreational purposes, and not for any scientific research. Now many companies are researching and testing spacecrafts aiming to carry tourists to space on a regular basis. If space tourism is an ultimate dream for many, others are terrified of the consequences it may entail on us. Before analyzing the pros and cons of space tourism, let have a thorough understanding of this type of tourism, its history and different aspects.
- Understanding various aspects of space tourism
- Space tourism in history
- Things you should know of space tourism
- A complete guid for space tourists
- How to become a space tourist?
- Special travel tips from astronauts
- 10 Things you might not know of space tourism
- Space tourism will increase the commercial activity in the time of poor state of world economy. Space tourism will become a new area of commercial endeavour and give employment to thousands of people. Manufacturing of new and better spacecraft will give employment to many skilled people.
- It will renew interest in space exploration. As a result, there will be more financial backing to support more innovations in the industry.
- Another big advantage is the newsworthiness of this emerging industry. Anything that is new in this form of tourism will become news headlines. This will draw more investors making the tourism companies sustainable.
- It would also help in identifying potential hazards dangerous for our planet.
- Allows us to view humanity from a different angle rising above petty politics, conflicts, successes, failures and love-hate feelings.
- Opens avenues for advanced technology which can be applied to other domains apart from space missions.
- Advanced opportunities in space exploration may help scientists predict earth’s weather more accurately.
- The scientists may be able to find new minerals and other precious materials in space and other planets. This will be of great help to the people of Earth where natural resources are depleting fast.
- We may someday even discover life in some corner of universe, and learn from it. Exploring the space may lead to some discovery, which we cannot even imagine.
- Make space tourists aware of fragility of our planet. When people see Earth in dark space, and a thin layer of atmosphere they are forced to think of smallness of Earth, and it may induce us to respect our planet and preserve our natural resources.
- We may someday find a place where humans can live. This will be of great help to already over populated Earth.
- Open a new avenue for adventure tourists and people who love thrill.
- Is the space outside the earth meant for humans? This is the first question that needs a proper answer.
- Space travel technology at the nascent stage can make entering space a dangerous venture. Space travelers are likely to get exposed to harmful radiations from the sun.
- Lack of proper regulation and inadequate safety protocols can make space travel extremely dangerous. Companies engaged in this form of travel may fail to stick to safety measures in a spree to gather more customers.
- Experimentation and unsuccessful ventures may cause an unnecessary waste of resources which is not just worth.
- Outdated information can cause serious problems in space travel.
- It may spark unhealthy competition with those having superior technology.
- Developing space programs and spacecrafts need a lot of money. That money can be utilized for alleviation of poverty. Thousands of hungry people can be fed using that money.
- More space tourism ventures are likely to put the lives of astronauts at risk.
- Space tourism is meant for the super rich. For example, a single 2 ½ hour flight ticket in Virgin Galactic’s upcoming space ship costs $ 250,000.
- Since the industry is in its infancy, lack of regulation regarding safety protocols may turn out to be hazardous.
- Several natural resources are wasted in flying the fuel guzzling rockets. It pollutes the atmosphere as well. Thus, space program is bad for our environment.
- Apart from the accidents that lead to loss of life, human beings have to face harsh conditions and adapt themselves to the unfriendly environment which is not good for their health. Spending long hours in zero gravity condition can be dangerous for the person’s cardiovascular and musculoskeletal system. If people accidentally get exposed to high-energy ionizing cosmic rays, it may lead to cancer.
- It is great to imagine people walking on the surface of Mars. It would not be wise to consider the escape to space will help in escaping the problems of earth. There is nowhere in the solar system where you can find the environment as congenial as that available on earth.
- It is fine to crave for thrill, but the whole human race may land into trouble if we find something lethal to life on Earth during some exploration. We may unwittingly introduce some harmful microorganism from space into the atmosphere of Earth.
Is Space tourism that important?
Money is flowing in from leading industry giants like Jeff Bezos sponsoring Blue Origin, Elon Musk leading Space X and Richard Branson funding Virgin Galactic. It is just only few years for space tourism to take off in a full-fledged manner. Most importantly, tickets are getting sold!
Ten Companies aiming to take travel into the space
With the human ambition soaring to literally make the saying “The Sky is the Limit” a reality, a number of companies have come up in the commercial space travel sector, to help in the fulfillment of this motive. Many of them work with the support of NASA, and hence, can be considered reliable enough to entrust the realization of your dream to travel in space. The new generation spaceships will carry tourists to space and give them an opportunity to observe the terrestrial bodies from space and experience weightlessness. The charges to the tourists will of course be exorbitant, somewhere between $200,000 and $500,000The consumer space travel ventures of 10 leaders of this industry are discussed further.
Image Source : nasa.gov
Armadillo Aerospace is presently working on suborbital space tourism for civilians. It builds reusable space vehicles that operate on the principal of rockets. One of greatest achievements of this company is gaining an approval to work with Space Adventures, which is a high-profile space tourism company.
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (Space X)
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (2002) is the brainchild of Elon Musk, who developed rockets to make space travel affordable to tourists. This company invented the first privately financed space shuttle to reach the earth’s orbit. This company, which developed the Falcon 9 for usage as a space station resources supplier, has also designed a capsule called Dragon on the top of the Flacon 9 for supplying cargo at present, but for being used for space travel by humans in the future. NASA seems to have supported this company in its efforts to build the human travel feature with $ 75 million funding. The dummy capsule is successfully tested. This success proves to be a milestone in the efforts of this company in commercial space travel.
Virgin Galactic is a leading name in the space tourism industry. This company already has a number of customers who bought tickets in advance for their space tourism venture. The company aims to provide suborbital space tourism to enthusiasts. It also endeavors to provide orbital space flight to humans. This company prefers to launch its spacecraft from an airplane rather than the ground to provide better momentum to the space vehicle at the time of take off.
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MAsten Space creates and designs new space vehicles which can be reused. However, unlike many consumer space travel companies, Masten Space makes unmanned suborbital spacecrafts for the consumers. If that seems risky for you, you should be informed that Masten Space is a specialist in unmanned consumer spacecrafts. However, you should seek assurance from the company itself regarding safety of travelling in unmanned spacecrafts.
XCOR Aerospace is the manufacturer of rocket engines, piston pumps and flight vehicles. It is also a leader in the commercial space travel industry. The EX-Rocket and X-Racer spacecrafts, manufactured by this company, have successfully completed 67 manned demos. This company sells tickets for space travel, with each ticket worth $95, 000.
Orbital Outfitters develops costumes meant to be worn during space travel by both consumers and astronauts. A very interesting and daring venture of this company is the development of a space suit that a space traveler can wear while travelling in space and dive from the spaceship and land on the earth safely.
Image Source : spaceportamerica.com
Spaceport America takes the credit for developing the first commercial spaceport. A spaceport is seen to be similar in concept to an airport or a seaport. This company has leased out its spaceport to the Virgin Galactic company for using it as its main office. The lease is valid for 20 years.
Blue Origin is a leader in the commercial space travel industry. It is founded by Jeff Bezos, the person who owns the famous e-commerce website, Amazon. Unlike a few other companies, Blue Origin is working towards the aim of providing space holidays to consumers at affordable rates. The ventures of this company are progressively directed from suborbital to orbital flying, with each venture adding something of value to the previous one. The company is developing Vertical Takeoff and Vertical Landing type, rocket-powered, spacecrafts for consumer space travel.
Bigelow Aerospace is an American space station creator. It is aimed at creating space stations with greater space in comparison to the conventional ones that are quite limiting in space. The company uses inflatable material to achieve this. They expect to launch their expandable space station in 2014 and make it available for public use in 2015. This company provides orbital facilities, apart from commercial space stations.
Paragon Space Development
Image Source : paragonsdc.com
Paragon space development is involved in providing environmental control in the hardest of space weathers. This company creates and tests, life support equipment and accessories of astronauts and others present in the space ships. This company was the first to produce a long duration video on the development and sustenance of life in space. It is also credited with performing the multi-generational animal life experimentation and commercial life experimentation on space.
CST-100 by Boeing
CST-100 is a spacecraft by Boeing in collaboration with Bigelow Aerospace. It aims to transport NASA’s crew to ISS and to private space stations. It uses proven technology from Apollo and space shuttle programs of NASA. This reusable spacecraft will support 7 people, and will be capable of remaining in the orbit for up to seven months. A number of tests are underway. It is expected to be operational by 2016.
Dream Chaser by Sierra Nevada Corporation
Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser is a suborbital and orbital spacecraft. It can carry up to seven people and will provide transportation service for crew and cargo of NASA to ISS and back to Earth. This reusable aircraft has a built-in launch escape system. It can land on airport runway like space shuttle did. It has undergone drop tests from a helicopter, and recently undergone motor firing and ignition test. It will be ready to begin operations by 2016.
Rocket by Stratolaunch
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Stratolaunch Systems is planning to launch rockets to orbit. The carrier aircraft will have a wingspan of 117 meters, making it the largest airplane by wingspan. It will have a range of 2,200km on air launch missions. Initially it plans to send cargo and satellites into space, but ultimately it hopes to launch astronauts as well.
Liberty Launch System by ATK
Liberty launch vehicle by Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and Astrium, will fly astronauts to and from low orbits of Earth. A 91-meter Liberty rocket will blast into orbit a capsule, which can carry seven people. It has abort system and combines flight-proven elements. It may begin test flights in 2014 and first manned mission may occur in 2015.