Tourist Flights to Space Next Year: An Updated Timeline of When You Should Pack Your Bags

Tuesday, 17 July 2018 - 10:16AM
SpaceX
Science News
Tuesday, 17 July 2018 - 10:16AM
Tourist Flights to Space Next Year: An Updated Timeline of When You Should Pack Your Bags
< >
Image Credit: By Ronrosano (CC BY-SA 3.0)
If you're like us, you've been impatiently waiting for your chance to board a rocket and fly into space since you were a little kid. Over the past few years, that dream has gone from more to less to more promising as companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic have made major strides toward space tourism while also battling serious setbacks. There is still no exact date that you can circle on your calendar for the inaugural voyage, but here is an updated timeline from the major players courtesy of Phys.org, including a little about what each company is offering.

Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson's company, hit a pretty major snag in 2014 when a pilot error resulted in an accident in which one of two test astronauts were killed. The company has since resumed testing, with its  Virgin Galactic VSS Unity spaceship seen flying over the Mojave Desert back in May. The ship will launch attached to the WhiteKnightTwo craft, with six passengers (at around $250,000 per ticket) and two pilots on board. It will detach at 49,000 feet, about 13,000 feet above a commercial flights' cruising altitude, then ignite its rocket. After giving its paying customers the opportunity to experience zero-gravity, the craft will begin its descent back to Earth. The trip will last between 90 and 120 minutes, which puts the cost at around $2000-2700 per minute. In an interview with BBC Radio 4 in May, Richard Branson said that he was undergoing astronaut training because he would be on the first Virgin Galactic voyage. "We're talking about months away, not years away - so it's close," he said. "There are exciting times ahead."



Six is also the magic number for Blue Origin (Amazon's Jeff Bezos' company), but instead of flying in a jet-shaped ship, passengers will be in a capsule with big windows atop a rocket. The capsule will detach and give the same weightless feeling about 62 miles in the sky, then float back to Earth with giant parachutes. A new report from Reuters says that Bezos will charge a similar price to his passengers ($200,000-$300,000) with the first trip planned for 2019, but tickets have not been made available yet. An aerospace analyst told Reuters that a single flight would cost these companies around $10 million, though actual operating costs have not been shared.

SpaceX already has two space tourists lined up for a trip around the moon later this year, but who they are and how much they paid have not been disclosed. The company is also working with NASA to get astronauts to ISS, so if all goes well with those two projects, they may offer more tourist flights in the future.

Image Credit: By Ronrosano CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Science
Space
SpaceX
Science News
No