20 million dollars – and you are a space tourist.
American millionaire Tito paid $20 million for the trip and paved the way for future space tourists. The concept of space tourism has been around for decades, with early ideas including Buzz Aldrin’s vision of a hotel on the moon. However, it was only in 2001 that the first space tourist, Dennis Tito, made history by traveling to the International Space Station.
After Tito’s historic journey, the growth of the space tourism industry began to accelerate. Companies such as Space Adventures have begun offering trips to the International Space Station, and plans for commercial space hotels and suborbital flights have also been announced. As the industry continued to grow, more people began to consider space tourism as a viable option, including Richard Garriott, the sixth space tourist on Earth. The construction of the Voyager Station space station is scheduled to begin in 2026, where it is planned to house the first commercial space hotel with 400 seats.
Elon Musk’s space industry
Credit: JOEL KOWSKY/NASA VIA GETTY IMAGES
SpaceX was founded in 2002 with the goal of reducing the cost of space launches and work on expeditions to Mars. With proprietary technologies such as the Falcon multi-stage launch vehicles and the Dragon spacecraft, the company has become a recognized leader in space transportation. In 2021, SpaceX launched the first private civilian space tourism mission to Earth orbit, once again demonstrating the company’s commitment to the industry.The mission, which began on September 16, 2021, was launched on a Falcon 9 Block 5 launch vehicle from the Kennedy Space Center (Launch Complex 39A, LC-39A). The launch took place at 00:02 UTC and was broadcast on the SpaceX website. Just minutes after launch, the first stage of the launch vehicle separated and landed safely on the Just Read the Instructions floating platform in the Atlantic Ocean. Soon, “Dragon” also separated from the second stage and went into orbit at an altitude of 575 km.
After three days in orbit, the spacecraft returned to Earth and landed in the Atlantic Ocean. The commander of this flight was Jared Isaacman, an experienced pilot who has flight qualifications on several military aircraft and acted as a financial sponsor of this mission.
The unusual thing about this flight was that Jared Isaacman purchased two seats on board for the Children’s Hospital. St. Jude of Memphis, Tennessee. One of the seats was taken by a former patient, Gail Arsenault, who beat cancer. Second place was awarded as part of the hospital’s fundraising of more than $200 million. The addition of the team was an entrepreneur chosen in a format similar to the Shark Tank reality show.
During 2022, as CNBC notes, SpaceX’s Falcon program has made it possible to carry out more than 60 launches of reusable rockets.
Credit: Space Exploration Technologies Corp
On May 22, 2023, a SpaceX rocket delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) a group of space tourists consisting of Peggy Whitson, John Shoffner, Ali al-Karni and Rayyan Barnawi, who completed a 7-day private mission called “Axiom Mission 2”.According to information released by NASA, the arrival of these astronauts at the ISS took place at 09:12 EST.
On September 1, 2023, according to Bloomberg, SpaceX signed the first contract with the US Space Force to supply satellite communications for the needs of the military using the Starshield system. It is planned that this system, which is based on the Starlink infrastructure, will have additional capabilities to ensure the national security of the United States. The agreement between SpaceX and the US Space Force provides for cooperation during the year, and the maximum costs under this contract will be $70 million.
Founded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin develops vehicles and technology that can take humans beyond Earth’s atmosphere. The company offers services such as suborbital flights.
Development of space tourism technologies
Virgin Galactic has released images of a supersonic jet design. Credit: Virgin Galactic
In 2026, it is planned to launch a new Delta-class spacecraft that will be able to provide weekly and even daily space flights. The company Virgin Galactic has already made five space test flights with a crew, but the path to the first commercial mission turned out to be difficult, expensive and full of trials.
Since the early 2000s, Virgin Galactic has been working on the development and testing of the SpaceShip series of launch vehicle and spacecraft systems to provide space tourism services. In 2003, the SpaceShipOne spacecraft prototype took off for the first time, and SpaceShipTwo system test flights were conducted in 2013. However, this path was cut short by a tragic accident that killed the VSS Enterprise in 2014.
In April 2023, VSS Unity flew again using the VMS Eve launch vehicle, and in late May the spacecraft successfully completed its second test flight to an altitude of 87 km with passengers on board.
The most notable space tourism option available today is the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, which can transport private citizens to the International Space Station (ISS). In addition, World View Enterprises offers a unique hot air balloon experience that is a more affordable option for those looking for space tourism.