Space tourism closer to reality than ever before

Andrea Divirgilio / September 29, 2010

space tourism

For the adventurous journeys beyond the blue sky, there is a stiff competition going on between the space tourism companies. While the well-heeled have already spent a whopping $200,000 per ticket for 2.5-hour flight aboard Sir Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo, other firms are also battling out to take you on an amazing journey to the edge of space as soon as possible. Now, a team of British rocketeers, Starchaser boss Steve Bennett and astronaut Matt Shrewbridge, plan to take you into the space by 2015.

Interestingly, two anonymous tourists have already paid £250,000 each for the first seats, with the other seating spaces available at £98,000 + taxes. Mr Bennett from Starchaser’s Manchester headquarters, said…

Our customers will get to fly in a real rocket, wearing a real spacesuit and will undertake an authentic space mission just like the early Astronauts did in the 1960s.

They will see the blackness of outer space, the curvature of the earth and they will feel weightless for a few minutes.

My goal is to open the space frontier for everyone, to make access to space easy and inexpensive.

However, before they could put tourists into space for real, they need to perform a series of trials. In November this year, Starchaser will test the 20ft Launch Escape System (LES), which is a rescue pod that separates from the rocket in case the spacecraft fails. A manned launch test is expected next year when they will lift the 70ft Starchaser 4 off the ground in Morecambe Bay, Lancashire.

• Virgin expects space tourism within next 18 months

Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson has lately said that they are all set to take passengers to the edge of the space within the next 10 months. Afterwards, the company plans to work on space hotels. The firm has already received $45 million in deposits from more than 330 people. The SpaceShipTwo passengers will get a once in a lifetime opportunity to view Earth from portholes next to their seats and float in zero gravity.

• A seat aboard the XCOR Lynx for $95,000

Recently, Xtraordinary Adventures, in partnership with RocketShip Tours, is taking reservations for the thrilling space ride aboard XCOR Aerospace‘s Lynx suborbital spaceship. The complete package of training, medical screening and suborbital flight comes for a cool $95,000.

The Lynx takes off like a private aircraft from a runway, takes you on an amazing journey to the edge of space and returns to the takeoff site. Four onboard and several ground-based cameras will record the unforgettable experience.

• Cheaper suborbital flights:

Experts believe that by 2014, a ticket for suborbital flight will most probably cost between $50,000 and $100,000. These reasonable ticket prices will be possible owing to the fact that the industry has plans to offer hundreds or even thousands of flights every year. The announcement was made by a panel of experts speaking at the Space Frontier Foundation’s annual conference in Sunnyvale, California. Lee Valentine, executive vice president of the Space Studies Institute in Princeton, N.J. and David Masten, chief executive of Masten Space Systems of Mojave, seemed quite optimistic about the cheaper suborbital flights and cited that the there will be between 1,000 and 100,000 flights annually.

Space tourism firms have already started giving stiff competition to Virgin Galactic with the announcements of cheaper space rides. The panel of experts finally agreed that the suborbital tourism market is bound to grow with the cheaper flight rates. By the summer of 2014, Lee Valentine, David Masten and A.C. Charania estimate the cost per seat to be $50,000, $75,000 and $100,000 respectively.

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