January 29th, 2008
For most people, the idea of space travel is limited exclusively to either astronauts or fictitious movies and tele
vision shows. It’s true that many popular movies, such as Star Wars or Star Trek, have depicted space travel as a mode of transportation that is strictly made for science fiction movies – but the reality is that it’s not. Space travel, or the so-called space tourism industry, is a very real thing, and it will allow “regular” people the chance to travel through space.
The whole idea of space tourism is exciting for most people to think about, and the idea that space travel may soon be on the same level as commercial air travel in terms of accessibility and popularity, is even more exciting to think about (certainly more exciting than emptying vacuum cleaner bags). Today there are already companies out there that are basically “space travel agencies”, and with their services, you can book your flight to outer space. One of the largest companies of this kind was founded in 1998 and based in Virginia called Space Adventures.
Before you run out to book one of these one-of-a-kind private space travel experiences, you had better have some money in the bank to finance the space trip, because they’re not cheap! The first official space tourist was Dennis Tito who reportedly payed $20 million for the ticket. Tito was blasted to outer space aboard the Soyuz spacecraft en route to the International Space Station. His flight left in May of 2001 with the Russian Space Agency providing the transportation approximately 189 – 248 statute miles up into space. These days, that same trip costs about $30 million to climb aboard the 3 person spacecraft, and it’s booked solid through 2009.
Spacecrafts for these flights into space are being designed and built as we speak. Here’s a short list of some of the innovative spacecraft designed for commercial space travel: Soyuz spacecraft, SpaceShipOne, SpaceShipTwo, WhiteKnightTwo, Cosmopolis XXI. On average, these spacecraft will reach speeds of Mach 3, they’ll fly 360,000ft, or 68.18 miles high, and the entire flight will last between 1 – 3 hours with seating for only 5 or 6 people.
As space tourism continues to become ever more affordable, so demand and accessibility grows, and thus, we are seeing spaceports popping-up around the world. In many ways, these new spaceports are like typical airports, except for the fact that they are launchpads to outer-space. Many spaceports being constructed today are privately owned and financed, while some will be sponsored by the government of their respective countries. Many new spaceports are planning to begin launching travellers into outer space within the next year or two. Costs for these flights are estimated to be in the $200,000 range, and in most cases the flight will last about 1 hour. So is there a spaceport near you? Lets find out!