Space tourism– once used to be a part of science fiction is becoming a reality. Though only a handful of companies are competing to be the leader of this emerging market, the days are not far when it will be a common practice where ordinary citizens will be a part of space tourism programs. The new spaceage has just begun, and in this age, one can buy tickets to space and doesn’t even need to be a coveted astronaut. The future holds something more adventurous and astounding- an escape to space. Sounds phenomenal? Well, that’s where the term Space Tourism comes. There are only a few players competing with each other in the Space Tourism industry. Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic revolutionizing space tourism. Among the three, Virgin Galactic has already launched its spacecraft with passengers to space in 2021.
The Evolution of Space Tourism
Space has always been an exclusive domain for astronauts. Today, the NewSpace Industry is investing in billions to take tourists to space for recreational purposes. Several space companies, including SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic are investing in billions to make space accessible to all. It has been estimated that space tourism with both orbital and suborbital together is expected to have a potential market value of $3 billion by 2030. Space companies have launched suborbital tourism programs from their spaceports. However, a flight to space at the price of tens of million dollars is undoubtedly for the ultra-wealthy, and it remains a delusion for the rest.
Space Tourism isn’t brand new, as U.S. millionaire Dennis Tito arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) via a Russian Soyuz rocket on April 30, 2001. After 20 years, Virgin Galactic created history on July 11, 2021. It sent six passengers, including its founder Richard Branson, two pilots, and three other passengers on the Virgin Galactic spaceship for a 90-minute suborbital flight at an altitude of 85km.
However, this celestial luxury is not for ordinary people yet. Only a billionaire can afford the ticket to space, and there are only 3,000 of them, so how could it be for common people? But the silver lining is- once cycling was inaccessible for everyone.
Virgin Galactic’s approach to Space Tourism
Virgin Galactic was founded in 2004 by a British entrepreneur Richard Branson, who founded Virgin Group in 1970. Branson created history when he signed a deal under which a new space company Virgin Galactic was formed. The company takes paying passengers into suborbital outer space. His company Virgin Galactic achieved a new milestone when it successfully took its first passengers, including the founder Branson last year.
After the successful launch in 2021, Virgin Galactic is all set to take off next year for its second space trip with private paying passengers. It has already sold tickets to over 600 passengers, and the tickets to space cost them between $200,000 and $250,000 each. However, passengers are required to get three days of training before boarding the spacecraft.
The Virgin Galactic spacecraft SpaceShip Two has the capacity to carry six passengers, including its two pilots and is docked underneath a jet-powered carrier aircraft known as WhiteKnight Two.
Do you know how long it takes to get to outer space? Well, Virgin Galactic takes just a few minutes. The 90-minute journey begins with a take-off from its New Mexico runway. The carrier aircraft takes off, and when it reaches an altitude of more than 40,000 feet, the spacecraft is dropped before firing its rocket motor and propel towards the stars. After this, the spacecraft does a backflip, and at this moment, the passengers experience microgravity for a few minutes before ascending to an altitude of 295,000 feet. You will see the colour changing from blue to indigo and then inky black outside. The view from the window is extraterrestrial.
Virgin Galactic offers you a fully-immersive training program to be an astronaut with state-of-art technology. During the three-day training period, your mind and body will be prepared for microgravity. Experienced astronauts and world-class space experts will train and prepare you for your life’s most adventurous experience.
In addition, an under armour spacewear system is designed for your ultimate comfort and maneuverability during weightlessness that begins in space.
Looking at our planet from outer space had always been a luxury only professional astronauts could afford. But Virgin Galactic has proved that the future of space tourism has arrived, and it’s time for the citizens to experience the universe in microgravity.