Private space trips are not something writers dream about when writing their science fiction novels, they have become common nowadays. In the USA space companies are emerging like mushrooms after the rain, and the cost of space flights is gradually becoming more and more affordable. Soon the day will come when people will go to external orbit at weekends.
The first space companies that started to sell space trips were SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. The first one was founded by Elon Musk who is famous for commercializing the first mass-market electric car Tesla. The second one belongs to Richard Branson, a British billionaire, who provides tourist spaceflights with the help of air launch systems – a spacecraft is launched not from the surface of the Earth, but from a carrier plane.
It should be noted though that commercial space will be interesting not only in terms of tourism. One of the key directions, that will allow repaying expenditures on space systems development, will be mining operations on asteroids, the moon and other celestial bodies. For example, in 2014 NASA found two contractors, who will send the first reconnaissance probes for mineral exploration in 2020. Representatives of Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources believe that present-day business underestimates space being an endless source of minerals.
Nevertheless, the main goal of NASA is the development of technical conditions that will make space flights affordable to a common man. Therefore, American engineers are working on a reusable rocket, which will substantially cut the flight cost and will allow almost any person to buy a ticket to space at least once in a lifetime. This may sound strange, but the most successful company in this field is the above mentioned SpaceX.
Meanwhile NASA is cherishing a more ambitious dream, working on ion engines that will allow people to forget about huge and clumsy fueled missiles that are still in use. Creation of such an engine will provide an opportunity for not only going into space in the same way as planes fly into the sky, but will open a possibility of interplanetary expansion for humanity.
Space tourism is developing at a rapid pace. Zero2Infinity, a Spain-based company, offers trips to the stratosphere. Flights are made in a helium-filled balloon and cost $150,000. During the flight a person won’t suffer from any overloads, as the balloon takes off very smoothly. There are no technical risks as well – the balloon is filled with inert and harmless helium, the passengers’ capsule is equipped with air-pillows and a parachute.
Another American company, Space Expedition Corporation, offers using suborbital spacecrafts as an alternative to Concorde. A craft, which is a cross between a jet plane and a space shuttle, will enter the orbit of a planet, from where it will “dive” to a desired position, giving an opportunity to fly planetary distances within hours. At present they are running in their experimental craft and gladly take tourists. Such an entertainment will cost you $95 000.
Space tourism development is also supported by the investment group Space Angels Network that selects the most promising space projects and finds investors for them. Speaking from the perspective of big money space tourism is extremely lucrative and almost generally available. Necessary technical solutions and scientific discoveries come out every day. Investment experts, studying this field, consider that mankind has made the majority of steps in this direction, the most important of which is revealing the possibility of space flights. If we compare space exploration to aviation, we will see that a modern man has entered the epoch of the Great War’s biplanes.
In any case tourist trips into space have become common today, though not widely spread. State companies and private corporations understand that a breakthrough, allowing cutting the flight cost and thus making it widely available, will automatically bring them to a new market that will not only pay for itself, but knock up a fortune for its pioneers.
Meanwhile, Japanese aerospace research agency JAXA has set a goal to create an orbital tourist hotel and scientific zone approximately until 2050. There are no reasons not to believe a country whose shops already use robots instead of shop assistants. One thing is for sure: if humanity does not eradicate itself in yet another war, there is a chance that you will be flying to the moon with your grandchildren for Christmas.
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