Space tourism maybe be closer than we think. As children, I am sure most of you reading this had visions and dreams of one day hurtling towards the heavens on a space mission. I know I sure did! Little did most of us know that becoming an astronaut was not as easy as getting a job at NASA and taking off on an adventure packed mission as we saw in the movies. It slipped our mind that it required years of university study in a science field, even more years of experience and battling thousands of others just to even get a gig at NASA. To then become an astronaut took years more experience, an expertise in a required field and a vigorous testing process. If you passed all that, then came the gut-wrenching training. The stumbling point for many a potential space flyer.
The rise of space tourism
Enter Sir Richard Branson, the multi-billionaire businessman and enthusiastic pioneer. He set up Virgin Galactic in 2004 with a vision to bring the thrill of space tourism to the likes of you and I…..For a price. Spaceport America has been completed. A launching place for future commercial space flights, the facility is not unlike an airport in the middle of the New Mexico desert. It will be the home base of the Virgin Galactic fleet of spacecraft and launch craft. The one difference between Spaceport America and conventional airports is that it will be your base for a three day training regime to prepare you for your flight. A far cry from the couple of hours of preparation before a commercial airline flight!
|Richard Branson on the tarmac at Spaceport.|
This brings us to the spacecraft in which Virgin Galactic will use for its venture into space tourism, Spaceship One and Spaceship Two. Both craft are powered by a hybrid rocket motor. This type of system is not a new idea but offers important safety and environmental advantages over liquid or solid systems that are more commonly used on manned space vehicles. In particular, it means that the pilots will be able to shut down the Spaceship rocket motor at any time during its operation and glide safely back to the runway. Safety first Sir Richard. Good job!
|An artists impression of how the Virgin Galactic “Spaceships” will look.|
the cost for a space tourism adventure
The cost for this experience of space tourism that Virgin Galactic has to offer? $200,000USD for the first flights or a private charter for $1 Million! I highly doubt many of us have that sort of cash lying around to splash out on an indulgence such as this. If you do, I envy you. This would be the experience of a lifetime and one which would be too good to pass up if you had the financial means (and the stomach) to embark on such an amazing adventure.
Who knows, give it a number of years and space tourism may well be in reach of most of us. The same way as international travel is today. Remember, travelling abroad was once seen as a pastime of the rich and famous too! Maybe, just maybe, space tourism will be as common as a vacation to Hawaii! Would you take a trip with Virgin Galactic?