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Space Tourism – The New Frontier of Travel

 NASA photograph shows ocean clouds as seen from outer spaceSource: NASA on Unsplash

From Star Wars and Star Trek  to blockbuster films like Apollo 11 and The Martian, space has always captured the imagination of society. Now you, too, can go where many men and women have boldly gone before by embarking on a space tourism adventure. Travel to sub-orbital and orbital destinations or far beyond the Earth’s orbit with these five companies staking their claim in the space tourism frontier. While you are waiting for your chance to win the millions required to climb aboard a spacecraft and rocket into the stars, satisfy your curiosity for now by playing space-themed slots on your preferred online casino.

Zero Gravity Adventures in the Near Future

Sometimes referred to as citizen space exploration or commercial human spaceflight, flying through space is something that the average extremely wealthy person should be able to enjoy in the next couple of years.

Until very recently, the only organization that offered orbital space tourism has been the Russian Space Agency (RSA).  During the early 2000s, the RSA took many people up into space. These first space tourists paid $200-250 million per trip to get a chance to feel zero gravity and eat astronaut ice cream far beyond the atmosphere. The RSA put a stop to commercial space tourism in 2010.

Meanwhile, in recent years certain burgeoning space tourism companies are close to making citizen space exploration a reality once again. As of June 7, 2019, NASA announced that beginning in 2020 they would open up space tourism to the ISS or International Space Station. Piloted by SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner, civilians can travel across space for $35,000 USD per day per astronaut.

Five of the main companies leading the industry include big name brands wanting to make their mark on early commercial space travel.

Virgin Galactic – Virgin Galactic was founded by Sir Richard Branson and is part of the mother company, Virgin Group, also established by Branson. As a space tourism company, Virgin Galactic will focus on offering frequent suborbital spaceflights for those able to make the baseline deposit of approximately $340,000 CAD to get on the long waiting list.

The company tested its spaceplane, the VSS Unity, in December of 2018 to ensure that commercial space travel could be a reality. However, many delays and the loss of the previous spaceplane, the VSS Enterprise, was a hit for the company in 2014.

SpaceX – SpaceX has been founded by Elon Musk, the co-founder and CEO of Tesla Motors. Because it seems to be a trend for entrepreneurial moguls to own space tourism companies, Musk is at the forefront of the space travel hoopla. Experienced in launching space flights, SpaceX will focus on lunar tourism and space travel beyond Earth’s orbit.

Similar to hiccups Virgin Galactic has experienced, SpaceX has also been a little slow to make commercial human spaceflight a viable venture. As far back as 2017, Musk had announced plans to send two paying customers to the moon, but it did not happen that year or in 2018. Pricing strategies and further launch dates have not yet been announced.

Dennis Tito was the first space tourist in 2001 when he visited the International Space Station aboard a Russian spaceshipSource: Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images

Blue Origin – Owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin is Virgin Galactic’s top competitor for sub-orbital commercial space travel. The company has its own rocket, called the New Shepard (named for U.S. astronaut Alan Shepard). This rocket is reusable with the capacity to take off and land vertically to easily carry customers across the atmosphere.

Although they have performed many test flights and hope to put six passengers at a time in space soon, Blue Origin has not started taking money for space trips, unlike Virgin Galactic.

Orion Span – Based in the United States, Orion Span will fly customers to their own private commercial space station known as the Aurora Space Station. As private astronauts, customers will be able to buy tickets to fly amid Earth’s low orbit. The station will also function as a space hotel, at which up to six tourists can stay for more than $11.8 million CAD.

Orion Span is still in the planning phase, but has sold many reservations to book them out several months. The Aurora Space Station should be open for business by 2022.

Boeing – A big name in commercial airline travel, Boeing is also stepping forward as a partner with NASA for the government’s Commercial Crew Development programme. Designed to integrate more private sectors in the development of orbiting crew vehicles, this programme is also slated to become a major component of space tourism.

So far, Boeing has began working on their main capsule, Boeing CST-100 Starliner, which is set to take crew members up to ISS. The company plans on having at least one space tourist join the crew for each mission.

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