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Travelling Upwards: Space Tourism

Space. The human race has had a fixation with our starry firmament ever since we were able to recognise what it is, namely, a dark and seemingly unreachable place blanketing our world. With Yuri Gagarin’s first space journey in 1961, a trip that lasted just 108 minutes, part of the mystery surrounding our skies fell away yet plenty more questions remained, some of which still crave answers sixty years on.

 

A Pipedream

Inevitably, as technology grew more capable, space became much more accessible, and we’re currently experiencing a boom in the number of spacecraft launches, with 180 rockets sent into the blackness during 2022. That’s an increase of 44 over the previous year. While most of these were US and Chinese launches, mainly for science and business purposes, the prospect of going to space just for fun is no longer a pipedream.

 

Picture 1
Source: Pexels

 

On Earth, there are a few companies that are capable of entertaining people beyond the surly bonds of this planet, including the usual suspects, i.e. Blue Origin, Space X, and Virgin Galactic, as well as the lesser-known Zero2Infinity, World View, and Space Adventures. All of these businesses are operating under the belief that the space rocket is about to become the new cruise ship.

More than that, space tourism has the rather noble objective of giving humanity a permanent position out in the solar system, either through space stations, lunar bases, or something much more dramatic, like SpaceX’s designs on the red planet Mars. This is all a long way off, of course, so space tourism today is much more of a quick bus journey to the seafront than a voyage into the unknown.

 

International Space Station

It never fails to capture the public’s imagination. From Star Trek and Star Wars to games like Mass Effect and No Man’s Sky, we’ve been conquering fictional worlds for hundreds of years now. Some of the best online casino real money sites have paid tribute to space as well, with the PlayStar site hosting Hyper Nova Megaways and Space Invaders, a companion slot to the original 1978 title.

 

 

The obvious question to ask is, how much does all this space travel cost? Back in 2021, the Observer website ‘ranked’ several upcoming packages from the companies listed earlier. At the low end, for a six-hour ride to the stratosphere with Space Perspective, tourists could expect to pay $125,000. On the other hand, Russian outfit Roscosmos will actually take you to the International Space Station for $50-60m.

It’s worth noting here that space tourism is scalable just like boring old earth tourism. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has a package that lasts just 12 minutes but travels all the way to the boundary between Earth and space. This costs $28m, which works out at $2.3m a minute or $38,888 a second. Why so expensive? It’s in a rocket, whereas Space Perspective (above) uses a hot air balloon.

Overall, space tourism remains a bit of a buzzword for those of us with jobs and bills to pay – but it grows a little closer to the travel agent with each day that passes.

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