Space Tourism: Is It Expensive?
I think we can all agree that space tourism excites and creates enthusiasm, but is space tourism expensive?
Given the technology needed to explore space and how far distant it is from the typical person’s existence, many people instinctively expect that space tourism will be exorbitantly costly. Space tours could easily cost $1,000 per space mile or more, right?
Well not really. A space mile is a measure of space distance and is equal to the average distance between the Earth and Moon. So space tours could easily cost $1,000 per space mile or more… Yes? No! That would be ridiculous.
If you want to go into space, you have a few possibilities assuming your pockets are lined nicely. The traditional route, taken by the first space passengers, is via Russia’s space agency Roscomos, with tickets costing roughly $20 million each.
What increases the price of space travel?
In a succinct and direct response, BBC Science Focus identifies chemical-based propulsion as the primary cause of the high cost of space travel. According to the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation, 10 to 25 times the mass of the object is required in rocket fuel in order to place it into orbit. NASA refers to the equation’s brutality as the “Tyranny of the Rocket Equation.”. An incremental loop is created, increasing expenses as more mass and weight are added to a spaceship, making it heavier and requiring more fuel.
According to Scientific American, rocket fuels can be solid, liquid, or gaseous. According to SpaceX, liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene, or RP-1 fuel, power the Merlin engines that propel a Falcon 9 into orbit. However, even these fuel expenses are a negligible portion of what it costs to construct a rocket. Reusable rockets often result in lower costs, however, this isn’t always the case. Furthermore, the construction of crew-carrying capsules is very costly. In the end, the cost of a ticket to space also includes expenditures for launch, training, workforce, and mission operations.
There are more aspects that affect the costs of the space business. On March 23, 2022, CNBC reported that owing to inflation and historically high fuel prices, SpaceX has increased the cost of every launch. A Falcon 9 launch costs about $67 million, while a Falcon Heavy mission costs $97 million. Prices for small satellites launched under the rideshare program increased as well, climbing to $1.1 million for payloads weighing 200 kilograms and incurring extra expenses of $5,500 per kilogram. In conclusion, the rocket equation, fuel costs, building and operating costs, and problems with inflation are to blame for the high cost of space tourism tickets.
The Reality Of Space Tourism Costs
In reality, space tourism will most likely cost about as much as a business class plane ticket, but with space tours, you get to travel about eight times faster.
The space planes being developed by companies such as Virgin Galactic and XCOR will cut the time it takes for space tourists to get from point A to B by a factor of ten or more compared to space shuttles that used rockets.
This is all good news, especially for space engineers and scientists that experiment with space travel and physics on a regular basis.
Space tourism will not be cheap but it also won’t be the crazy $1,000 per space mile some people assume it to be.
What Is The Space Industry Worth?
The space industry — including space tours — is already worth an astounding $300 billion per year and it’s only growing. A large part of that space tourism market share will not just be individuals but also larger companies such as hotels, resorts and more. This would be a great opportunity for space entrepreneurs to bring space closer to more people by way of space tours.
The space industry in general — not just space tourism — continues to grow and change the world we live in and only promises to grow more in years to come.
What Will Space Tourism Probably Cost in the Future?
Suppose space tourism corporations create eight times faster aircraft than space shuttles, the true cost of space tourism will be close to the cost of a business class airline ticket rather than space miles or kilometers.
Space tourism is the only profitable industry in space, and it will continue to be so in the future. It’s likely space tourism will follow suit in an exponential growth curve. Space enthusiasts interested in space excursions paid more than $1.75 billion in deposits to space tourism organizations in 2016.
As with most innovations, the cost to participate in a space flight initially was exorbitant, however space tours are starting to become more affordable. Today space enthusiasts can participate in space tours for as low as $20,000 through space tourism companies like Space Adventures and Blue Origin. But the cost of space tourism is still high despite being much lower than before.
What Makes Space Tourism Expensive?
The space tourism industry is not just for space tours, but space flights as well. Both of these are expensive because space travel requires a lot of preparation. To start with, you need to know how much fuel the rocket needs to reach its destination. Of course, there’s also training that goes along with space travels – every space tourist must be fully trained before they can fly.
There’s also the cost of space suits, training tools and space facilities around the world where space tourists train. All space programs require training facilities not just for space tourists but also the astronauts who work for space tourism companies.
Commercial space travel isn’t cheap, but it will still cost much less than a trip to deep space. There’s also the time and money used to test space flights. Before releasing them, space authorities must approve space flights under certain requirements.
Space tours are not cheap, but they offer space lovers the opportunity to experience space travel at a fraction of what it would cost without space tourism companies. That’s why more and more people are hoping for space tourism to become even more affordable in the future.