If you had told humans 50 years ago that one day, they would be able to travel to space the same way they plan a trip to an exotic location, they would have looked at you as though you were crazy. But here we are in 2021, a year in which space tourism is clearly a near-future reality, and a lucrative one at that.
Currently, space tourism is expected to be a market worth several billions of dollars by the end of the decade. This prediction comes from the multitude of investments in this market, along with a clear demand. Meanwhile, the technology is evolving in a way that makes a booming space tourism industry practically an inevitability.
Space Tourism: Who’s Behind it?
Perhaps the leader behind the space tourism movement is none other than Elon Musk, who has been eagerly sharing his dreams with the general public for some time now, turning his grand vision of SpaceX into one that will take the tourism industry into a new and unprecedented direction. Musk, who’s fixation on reusable rockets aims to cut down space travel costs, has led the way, developing practical, cost-efficient, and realistic means for taking humankind into space in a way that could one day be no more remarkable than a plane trip to another continent.
Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are following closely in SpaceX’s footsteps, working on their own reusable rocket technology to offer alternatives to the general space-hungry public. Of course, the concept of touring space is one that, for the time-being, is really only inclusive to the wealthy, with a standard trip projected to cost a pretty penny. But, like many once-exclusive industries before, it has the potential to eventually become accessible to the masses, as technology continues to evolve in a way that’s more efficient and affordable.
What Does Space Tourism Entail?
Currently, space tourism involves sending passengers on a suborbital journey about 50 miles above the Earth’s atmosphere. It would provide passengers with a single orbit around Earth, but longer-term goals include taking civilian space enthusiasts to the moon and Mars.
SpaceX is leading the way in just about every sense, and they have already teamed up with Space Adventures to develop a program to be launched in 2022 or later, in which four lucky adventure-seekers will orbit Earth.
Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is almost finished developing the New Shepard Rocket, which will transport passengers to and from space using reusable rocket technology.
And, that’s not all. Investors are already feeling confident in space hotels, which will be quite different from the luxury destinations that many of us are used to, that can serve as anchor points throughout the journey. Of course, there are quite a few logistical things to work out, but plans are already underway that could allow space tourism to feel like a resort experience rather than a scientific expedition.
One major hurdle that developers need to work through is the idea of safety. This entire industry is largely unchartered territory and removing civilians from the secure infrastructure that we have here on Earth poses a serious challenge. During the travel experience, it must be ensured that visitors have access to essentials like medical care in case of emergency, and they must be trained fairly rigorously to ensure that they can handle the unique demands that space requires. Further, naturally, developers must find ways to appeal to humans’ concepts of comfort, to make the trip as enjoyable as possible for those who are not accustomed to the demands of space travel.
Ensuring Consumer Interest
It’s hard to imagine that space tourism wouldn’t be a huge success, but you may be surprised by how many people will be hesitant to hand over big bucks for an experience that they simply have no sense of familiarity with. Due to the enormous investment on the part of tourists, companies need to get creative to get potential clients acquainted with the technology that they are investing everything into developing as we speak.
One way of accomplishing this comes from Elon Musk. Musk has created a new initiative to use his same reusable rocket technology to send humans to anywhere in the world in under an hour, and if that wasn’t impressive enough, he promises that it won’t cost more than a standard airline ticket. His hope is that this will allow tourists to learn to trust this technology and become more comfortable with the concept of using these same rockets to travel outside of our planet’s atmosphere.
It’s Going to be a Busy Decade for the Space Tourism Industry
Without a doubt, there are enough plans in the works to make it practically certain that space tourism will see its first eager clientele within the decade. With multiple companies racing to take passengers around the planet, we can’t wait to see where space tourism ends up in just a couple of years.