Forget scaling Mount Everest or expeditions to the South Pole, space is the final frontier for wealthy adventurers. And after years of speculation, setbacks, and turbulence, space tourism is finally taking off.
Launching to new heights, the space tourism market alone could be worth US$3 billion by 2030, according to UBS.
Last year both Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos-founded Blue Origin launched maiden suborbital voyages with paying customers.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX also became the first private company to send astronauts to the International Space Station in its Dragon Two reusable spacecraft.
Now there’s also competition from smaller operations such as Space Perspective who recently revealed a look at its ‘space lounge’ inside Spaceship Neptune that will carry passengers to the edge of space via a large balloon without the use of rockets.
So, with recreational spaceflight firmly coming over the horizon, here’s a look at some space travel pursuits for the mega-wealthy.
Space Perspective – Balloon to the Stratosphere
On April 12, Space Perspective teased a peek inside its luxury cabin that will carry passengers to the edge of space suspended beneath a large ‘SpaceBalloon’. Launching from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida from late 2024, the company has already sold more than 600 tickets costing over A$203,000 each.
Space Perspective’s spacecraft, Spaceship Neptune, is also the first carbon-neutral way into space taking “explorers on a leisurely flight, spending hours at the edge of space”. The entire journey takes about six hours, features Wi-fi connectivity and a drinks bar, and because of its gentle nature, doesn’t require any training..
Get your first look at the Space Lounge Interior. What makes Spaceship Neptune a spaceship unlike any other? Visit our website to explore all the details! https://t.co/DqhAhrdg0V pic.twitter.com/4j5cHRcP1Y — Space Perspective (@SpacePerspectiv) April 12, 2022
Virgin Galactic – Suborbital Spaceflight
Starting at over A$610,000 per person with a A$203,000 deposit, Virgin Galactic re-opened ticket sales in February for a ride in the company’s spaceplane along the edge of space. Throughout the 90-minute flight, that requires basic astronaut training, passengers will experience a signature air launch, a Mach-3 boost to space, and brief weightlessness.
Virgin says there’ll be three offerings to choose from; a single seat purchase, a double seat package, and an entire flight booking with four seats. Unfortunately, new buyers will join a 700-person waitlist encompassing customers from previous private sales.
Blue Origin – Suborbital Spaceflight
Experience weightlessness and view Earth from space through the largest windows in spaceflight history.
Blue Origin promises an incredible experience on its New Shepard capsule that flew its first astronaut crew to space on July 20, 2021. Soon the suborbital launch vehicle will be taking paying customers on a spaceflight past the Kármán line, accelerating to Mach 3 on the vertical take-off.
On the 11-minute flight, which requires two days of training, passengers will experience 3g for about 2.5 minutes and enjoy incredible views via the windows that make up one-third of the capsule.
So far, the space tourism company has flown 14 people to space across three flights with plans to double that this year. Blur Origin has not yet released its operational per-seat price.
SpaceX – Earth Orbit
Last year SpaceX sent the first all-civilian crew into Earth’s orbit. In April this year, the company launched the first all-private crew en route to the international space station. The two crews were on board the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule powered by the company’s reusable two-stage Falcon 9 rockets; the same configuration that will eventually take paying civilians on trips out of this world.
The proposed journey will see passengers circle the globe once every 90 minutes at a speed of approximately 27,360km/h. SpaceX states this makes a “highly customized flight path possible” allowing passengers to “fly over your hometown… and other places meaningful to you”.
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