Reaching to the stars is a dream come true for the vast majority of people. Dennis Tito became the first American to walk on the moon on April 28, 2001. Tito, a billionaire businessman, spent $20 million for a trip to the International Space Station on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Only seven individuals have followed suit in the last two decades, but that figure is expected to increase in the next year alone. It appears that the emergence of commercial space firms will make it simpler for the general public to travel into space.
Now a question arises, what’s the purpose of space tourism? What’s with the hype?? Well, let’s take a look below to find that out!!!
Introduction to Space Tourism
Space tourism is not a new or even a twenty-first-century idea. In the 1970s, NASA foresaw the potential for space tourism. Before the first launch of the space shuttle in 1981, early plans called for a cargo bay layout that could hold up to 74 people, making it suitable for trips with bigger crews or even tourists. As an example of a job perk, several of the first non-government astronauts were sponsored by corporations. Dr. Ulf Merbold of Germany, and MIT engineer Byron Lichtenberg, both of whom served as mission specialists on STS-9 in 1983. Christa McAuliffe, NASA’s first astronaut, and first space instructor gained faith in NASA’s Space Flight Participant program as a result of this. The Challenger accident in 1986, however, put the program and the whole shuttle program back, for a decade.
Although space tourism has been put on hold, it has not been completely shelved. To compete with NASA, self-made billionaires such as Bezos and Branson set out to create their space firms to provide tourism services while NASA remained focused on governmental and scientific goals. After two decades of development, the technology has finally reached the point where both Bezos Blue Origin and Branson’s Virgin Galactic have sent their founders into suborbital space within a short period.
Types of Space Tourism
Following are the types that are currently offered to both astronauts and civilians.
- Orbital Space Flight
An orbital spaceflight is one during which a spacecraft is placed on a trajectory that permits it to stay in orbit for a minimum of one cycle/orbit. One orbit is a cycle of 90 minutes in space respectively. The space flight will remain in orbit for 90 minutes just like how a satellite stays in space. The time duration is usually short for this kind of trip to space. The speed of the spacecraft should be equal to orbital velocity.
- Sub-Orbital Space Fight
The atmosphere or surface of gravitating body where it was first launched intersects the trajectory of a suborbital spacecraft, so it will not complete one orbital rotation (it will not become an artificial satellite) or achieve orbital velocity. The speed of spacecraft here is below the orbital velocity.
- High Altitude Jet Space Flight
A high altitude jet space flight is a type of fight where you can go as high as 20-22km, but at least 17km assured. There will be no one else flying higher than those onboard the International Space Station (ISS) at this time. The earth’s curvature is obvious from this point on.
- Zero-Gravity Space Flight
Because the spacecraft is constantly changing velocity in its orbit to keep it from being dragged into the atmosphere, astronauts onboard experience zero gravity or weightlessness on a space station. As a result, individuals feel as though they are weightless or in Zero Gravity.
The goal of Space Tourism
Following are the goals of space tourism:
- Easily Accessible Sub-orbital Trips
The suborbital flight will most certainly be the first subsector of space tourism to emerging, but it could also be the shortest trip. Blue Origin, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, is testing its New Shepard system, which will take passengers to the edge of space in a capsule that separates from a tiny rocket and returns to Earth using parachutes. Virgin Galactic, founded by Richard Branson, is based on a spaceplane launched from a carrier aircraft with a rocket motor that accelerates up and transports people far into the atmosphere. Both firms’ shuttle systems are meant to take passengers more than 50 miles beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, giving consumers the sensation of weightlessness for a few minutes.
Blue Origin’s SpaceShipTwo will fly its second human spaceflight test on December 11, with Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo aiming for early 2021.
- Promoting Orbital Tourism
Another significant emphasis of governmental organizations and private space firms is orbital tourism, which includes staying in space for at least one complete orbit, with the long-term objective of reaching the moon and Mars. Beginning this year, Boeing, SpaceX, and Axiom Space intend to fly visitors to the International Space Station aboard commercial spacecraft. In addition, SpaceX is collaborating with Space Adventures to launch four passengers into low Earth orbit for a few days in late 2021 or early 2022. Orbital holidays are expected to become a popular trend as more firms investigate in-space tourism.
Space infrastructure firms have already hauled in a combined $3.6 billion this year, indicating that orbital tourist infrastructure, including orbital and lunar-based hotels, is set to become profitable.
- Investment Opportunities
Private space businesses are investing heavily in space tourism, and organizations such as UBS see access to space as a gateway to further financial potential. More next-generation engineers will enter the space tourism sector due to the variety of possibilities and innovation, gradually lowering the barriers to entry, increasing competition, lowering prices, and ultimately democratizing space travel for ordinary citizens. Of course, there are critical safety, comfort, and health considerations to be made.
Before visitors may travel to space, they must undergo training, medical exams, and sign liability releases.
Although space tourism will be a tiny part of the market, it will benefit space sector a lot. When space tourism becomes popular, it will have a beneficial influence on many socioeconomic variables on Earth, such as job creation, citizen education about space, and the development of new solar-based energy infrastructure