Can We Finally Go to Space as a Tourist?
Ever since space tourism became a possibility in today’s modern world, Amazon owner Jeff Bezos and the founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson, have been very fierce competitors in changing the dream of mankind going on a sub-orbital journey around the earth into a reality.
The Cost of Spending a Night in Space
However, the cost of this phenomenon has always been an issue. Although both Virgin Galactic, the British spaceflight company within the Virgin Group, and Blue Origin, the aerospace manufacturer and sub-orbital spaceflight services company from Amazon, have announced that they are ready to take paying customers on a trip to space, they are not sure that how many people out there can afford this $50 million luxury. This is the number that NASA has estimated is needed for getting to the International Space Station (ISS), plus $35,000 to stay a night there.
Soyuz, which is a series of spacecraft designed for the Soviet space program by the Korolev Design Bureau (now Energia) in the 1960s and remains in service today, has made more than 140 flights to space. The Soyuz has flown a handful of wealthy space tourists to and from the ISS before, at about $20 million per seat.
Nonetheless, Virgin Galactic has claimed that with their cutting-edge technology in making reusable spaceplanes, this price has been reduced to $250,000.
Where In Space Tourists Can Go
With all that said and as the figures show, it is still unbelievably expensive to send people into space. This is in addition to the fact that those of us who are not bankrolled by a government or a wealthy company have to pay for this on our own. SpaceX will also launch a mission around the moon in 2023 and is scheduled to take six to eight passengers, including the Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. No one knows for sure that how much people like Maezawa are paying for this trip around the Moon, but it is safe to say that it is more than most of us could ever dream of making in our lifetimes.
But, we should also consider the fact that the trip offered by companies like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin as a so-called “Space Tourism” is sub-orbital. It means that the whole trip takes only a few minutes, and the spacecraft gets just as far from the earth to make the traveler experience weightlessness. In order to do that, the spacecraft does not need to reach the outer-space velocity. That is actually why these trips are relatively cheaper than the one to the ISS.
Can I Afford a Space Trip?
Regardless of all these, the answer to the question “Will traveling to space be affordable for the average person?” is NO, unless you are a CEO or a movie star who earns more than $40,000 a month. Of course, various companies are still looking into ways to make this trip cheaper to offer a suborbital flight for a reasonable price, but that is decades down the road. I guess the best way to put it is that space travel WILL get cheaper, but it will never be cheap.