Space Tourism is an evolving start-up industry backed by substantial long-term solid investors and growing technological innovation.
Predictions about the size and scope of the space tourism market have been around for almost two decades, and is backed up by research - see Futron's 2002 PDF
Space Tourism Market Study orbital space travel & destinations with suborbital
as a good example of the expectation that if you build it (space tourism vehicles) they (high net worth customers) will come.
The transition from concept to reality can only occur when technology meets the requirements of a space craft capable of space tourism – to go up, and back, safely, again and again. As expected, insuring space tourists (considering the first space tourists will mostly be High Net Worth Individuals) has very few existing benchmarks.
Space Tourism will not be just an extravagant trip, it will also be a milestone for humanity and a turning point for the returned space tourists; where else can they go after a journey into low earth orbit? Space as a tourist destination opens up a whole new frontier of destinations: Sub-orbital, orbital, lunar tourism and of course, Mars Tourism.
As the demand for space tourism expands, the price decreases and then space tourism will evolve into a regular activity; the process of launch, weightlessness and landing will be available for more and more adventurers.
Currently the evolution of Space Tourism is experiencing an acceleration, fueled by the creativity of engineers, entrepreneurs, investors, and most importantly of all, the customers.
Media interest in space tourism is a fundamental marketing factor in driving pre-sales and sales (Virgin Galactic have cutomers but as of yet no flights) and accidents can counter years of good favourable media attention.
Listed below are some of the well know space tourism operators and some up and coming ventures that will one day revolutionize space tourism.
Sub-orbital flights have gained much of the focus of space tourism and the market is expected to bloom as soon as safe, reliable and profitable vehicles are operational.
Already there are a number of sub-orbital craft under development or soon to be operational and reservations have already been made.
Current prices vary between $95,000 and $250,000 U.S. Dollars, and are expected to lower to $50,000 within 10 years.
Currently the space tourism buzz is on three contenders that have already stated estimated prices:
- XCOR: ~$150,000 - Their Sub-Orbital Space Tourism Passenger list is about 300.
- Virgin Galactic Spaceship 2: ~$250,000 - Their Space Tourism Passenger list is about 750.
- Blue Origin: Price Unknown - A focus on rocket-powered Vertical Takeoff and Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicles for access to sub-orbital and orbital space.
- Airbus Defence and Space: ~$250,000 (no news of late)
Ships in Space is developing a sub-orbital vehicle than can take up 44 space tourists per trip, for one hour. Their goal is to be operational in about the year 2020 and compete with Virgin Galactic.
Orbital Space Tourism
Orbital Space Tourism is still at an early stage yet can be larger than sub-orbital.
If sub-orbital is the flight to your destination, then orbital will be the hotel or resort.
To date only one firm, Bigelow, has placed prototype orbital accommodation in orbit.
As sub-orbital tourism takes off, it is inevitable that orbital will follow.
True orbital space stations also rely on the means of ferrying visitors (tourists and scientists) to and from them, and, engineering feats that have to out-do current manned space projects. Space Tourists are not Astronaut
The scale of a floating space station, or a hotel, may seem far off yet the means to build it are not: Multi-billion dollar finance is used for the construction of leisure projects like cruise liners, and improving lower-launch costs will mean cheaper payloads to haul the pre-fabricated parts of future space hotels into a steady orbit.
To date, there are only two planned contenders for those wishing to 'stay' in space:
- SpaceX is active in developing the capability to ferry space tourists into orbit.
- Major Contender: Private Space Habitats by Bigelow Aerospace
- Concept Stage: Galactic Suite Space Resort
Space Tourism Companies
These Space Tourism Companies actively offer space tourism.
- Blue Origin
- Space Adventures - Lunar Tourism
- Ships in Space
- Space Expedition Corporation
- Virgin Galactic
Organizing tours in space depends on the reliability of the infrastructure (e.g. space ports) and providers.In time, more Space Tourism Operators will rise to meet the consumer demand.