The momentum in the space tourism sector is opening new horizons to satisfy the desires of people looking for unique experiences to contemplate the Earth from above… But this requires some patience and a lot of money.
The following is an overview of the services provided to aspirants for space tourism.
Two companies have been involved in short trips “of no more than a few minutes” in space, “Blue Origin” by Jeff Bezos and “Virgin Galactic” by Richard Branson.
In “Blue Origin”, the missile takes off vertically, and the capsule, in which the passengers are seated, is separated during the flight to an altitude of 100 kilometers, before landing on the ground with the help of three parachutes.
Virgin Galactic, for its part, uses a large tanker aircraft, which takes off from a traditional runway and then flings a vehicle similar to a large private jet that runs its engine to reach an altitude of 80 km before flying down.
In both cases, the ten passengers can get up from their seats to move around in zero-gravity, and contemplate the terrain.
Virgin Galactic has announced that it will start operating its regular commercial flights in early 2022, after conducting two recent trials. However, the waiting list is very long, as 600 tickets have been sold for its flights, knowing that the group expects to launch a maximum of 400 flights per year from each space base.
Two people will be chosen by lottery to participate in one of the first flights, and nominations are open until the first of September.
As for Blue Origin, it did not provide a specific timetable. “We are planning two more trips this year,” after Jeff Bezos’ trip, “and many more in 2022,” a spokeswoman told AFP.
Another solution is to participate in a reality TV show. The winner of the Space Hero program will be able to travel to the International Space Station in 2023.
The first tickets sold by Virgin Galactic cost between $200,000 and $250,000 each. However, the company confirmed that the tickets that will be released later will be more expensive.
Blue Origin did not reveal its prices, but a ticket to travel on its first manned flight was auctioned for $28 million.
At a much lower price, but still high ($125,000 per person), you can board the “Space Perspective” vehicle, which allows watching panoramic views at a height of 30 kilometers, away from the boundaries of space and the field of zero gravity.
All 300 tickets offered for 2024 have been sold out, but reservations have opened for 2025.
In principle, there are no prerequisites for those wishing to participate in these trips, other than to be in good physical shape. The exercise on Virgin Galactic flights lasts only five days.
Blue Origin’s first flight will carry an 82-year-old ex-pilot, the oldest person ever to participate in a space flight.
Among the criteria that were also set, during the auction of seats on the flight, were not feeling dizzy, being able to climb up the stairs, equivalent to seven layers in less than 90 seconds, and not exceeding a person’s weight of 100 kg.