Space tourism is a commercial activity related to the cosmos that includes going to space as a tourist, watching a rocket launch, stargazing, or traveling to a space-centric destination.
Currently not only is space travel being given importance for research purposes, effort is being put into commercial exploitation, for tourism and leisure purposes.
A little history
If space tourism has not started before, it has been due to the economic strength of the two main powers, the United States and the USSR, who did not see this branch as a source of income and yes as a source of expenses. It was after the decomposition of the USSR and the subsequent economic crisis that Russia decided to accept the offer of taking a tourist, that is, a person traveling for non-professional reasons. Moscow welcomed from the beginning the possibility of obtaining several tens of millions of dollars from people willing to pay for the trip and stay; so they could pay for all or part of the launch; in this way their research trips could be paid for in part with private funds.
On this point there was a strong discrepancy between Russia and the United States, which did not want or need that income and was afraid of turning the expensive and delicate space complex of the International Space Station (ISS) into a destination for eccentric millionaires. Several trips more or less related to tourism had already been proposed to NASA before, but none went beyond simple proposals or conjectures.
Fortunately for potential space tourists, the end of the Cold War, the construction of the ISS and, above all, the ability to take three people into space in a capsule when only two are needed, opened the door to this type of leisure.
The crew that would go down in history for carrying the first space tourist was the North American tycoon and former NASA engineer, Dennis Tito, the first human being to travel to space solely for pleasure and for a fee, which is considered a tourist.
Despite the high “ticket” the stay on the waiting list is long, especially because the place is not always available, even so, several tourists have followed the American on his trip, all of them so far with the company Space Adventures .
tourist space flights
In 1996, the X Prize Foundation opened the competition to create tourist space flights by offering the Ansari X Prize Prize with 10 million dollars in cash to whoever could design a device that could take three crew members to more than 100 km from the Earth twice in less than fifteen days.
In 2004 Mike Melvill managed to ascend to 103 km in height with Space Ship One and the plane that transported and acted as a landing module, the
White Knight; both built by the company Mojave Aerospace Ventures. On October 4, 2004, the pilot Brian Binnie took off from the Mojave desert, in California, shortly before 7:00 and reached an altitude of 112 km an hour later, obtaining the new world record. Shortly after he began the spiral descent until he managed to land on the runway from which he had taken off. In this way he obtained the coveted prize and began the race for manned space flights.
Companies with space projects
For almost fifteen years, many companies and organizations are collaborating on projects to send civilian-tourists into space. There are currently 20 companies focused on space tourism, perhaps the best known are:
Virgin Galactic and SpaceX with Elon Musk at the head of this second.
Do hotels exist in space?
Sub-orbital or even orbital flights are, from their birth, an excessively short trip for what they can cost, no matter how cheap they want to be. Staying in space would make them a much more pleasant experience.
Since the 1990s or even before there were several projects to place hotels in the space, although most of them were simple conceptual ideas, designs and artistic considerations. Bigelow Aerospace is a company that projects the creation of a space station for private uses. The Genesis ships are prototypes designed to test the concept of the inflatable ship, an idea that they hope will lower the cost of space flight.
They are inflatable modules of 3 by 2.4 meters made of carbon fiber to resist impacts from micrometeorites and space debris.
At the moment the company has already launched the first two prototypes, the Genesis I and the Genesis II.
Talking about something else…
Although it is not considered 100% Space Tourism, since the purpose is research, we cannot fail to mention this news given the involvement of a Spanish in the project:
The first private mission with civilians takes off to the International Space Station
Axiom Space, together with the company SpaceX, have carried out a project to transport four passengers to the orbital complex using a reusable Falcon 9 rocket. It has departed from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral (Florida, USA) with the Dragon manned spacecraft.
AX-1 is commanded by former Hispanic-American NASA astronaut Miguel López-Alegría, born in Madrid, trained in the US and with extensive experience in four previous missions in space. The other three civilians (rich businessmen and philanthropists who have paid about 55 million dollars each) are: the American Larry Connor, who will act as pilot, and two mission specialists: the Israeli Eytan Stibbe and the Canadian Mark Pathy.
Axiom’s trip to bring the first civilians to the ISS is part of an ambitious project to build an independent station from the current one and serve as a “hotel” for possible tourists in the not too distant future.
Do you think we will end up having hotels in space? Would you go and live the experience?