Space tourism is taking off. You probably can’t afford it – yet

It totally lacks atmosphere or nightlife. At various times it lacks night, period, and it has a legendary “dark side”.

Still, over the next 15 years, the moon could become a tourist destination, space tourism experts say.

“I think it’s very possible,” said Rachel JC Fu, chair of the Department of Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management at the University of Florida. “I think technology can catch up with our imaginations. “

Decades after the first human spaceflight, space is becoming the new frontier in tourism, said Derek Webber, founder of Spaceport Associates, a space tourism consultancy.

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa plans to take eight artists on a lunar orbital mission in 2023, and his dearMoon project claims it has a million applicants.

Two companies, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, already offer suborbital flights. Two months after his much-publicized adventure in which STar Trek Legend William Shatner was there, Blue Origin launched another robbery on Saturday morning from its Texas location, this one featuring the TV celebrity and former NFL star (and arch nemesis of the Eagles ) Michael Strahan.

Blue Origin’s first two flights carried six passengers and six were on board as of Saturday.

READ MORE: ‘Star Trek’ actor William Shatner, TV Captain Kirk, explodes in space

Space X could offer orbital flights “very soon,” Webber said, adding that a commercial company could even beat NASA on Mars. “Certainly the data shows that people want to go,” he said.

Webber and other proponents say it’s not madness that space tourism holds huge economic, scientific, environmental, and even existential benefits.

Not everyone agrees with the move, and it has raised questions about security, national priorities and damage to the atmosphere.

These reservations notwithstanding, for whatever reason – and Fu says fatigue from COVID-19 may be a factor – a lot of people want to get away from it all.

If you dream of space travel, know that it will cost a little more than a trip by SEPTA train to Paoli.

Bezos said Blue Origin had previously sold tickets for suborbital flights for $ 100 million.

READ MORE: Billionaire Richard Branson Reaches Space in His Own Ship

While the company declined to disclose ticket prices, Erik Seeder, a professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, estimated that they could cost as much as $ 400,000 each.

The cost of an orbital flight would be in the range of $ 55 million, he added, and suffice it to say that the cost of a round-trip ticket to the moon would be astronomical.

A more affordable option could be the Neptune spacecraft’s “space balloon”, at just $ 125,000 per person, including free Wi-Fi. And that wouldn’t require the 14 hours of flight training that Blue Origin passengers were required to complete under FAA regulations. Space Perspective describes this as a “radically soft” experience requiring “minimal” preparation.

The “capsule” will rise to around 20 miles at around 12 mph and provide passengers with a spectacular view of the planet and give what company founder Jane Poynter calls “a unifying and deep encounter”.

While this may be a bit below conventional definitions of “space,” Webber points out that the atmosphere has no hard limits, that it “just gets thinner and thinner.” At 20 miles, according to the company, passengers will have a view of 450 miles in all directions.

But don’t expect too much: the company says it’s sold out until 2024.

While space companies can be great experiences for the ultra-rich and the well-connected, other earthlings could fall victim to collateral damage, said Eloise Marais, professor at University College London.

If the industry “grows significantly”, emissions could both degrade the ozone layer, which filters out harmful UV rays, and contribute to global warming. She added that while Blue Origin’s current rocket does not produce carbon dioxide, its next iteration will use methane producing CO2.

Asli DA Tasci, professor at the University of Central Florida, agrees on the environmental risks and calls space tourism a “dangerous enterprise” for the participants. In 2014, a Virgin Galactic spacecraft exploded during a test drive in the Mojave Desert, killing the pilot.

Prince William of England has argued that dealing with issues closer to the Earth’s surface would be a more responsible investment.

READ MORE: Billionaire frolics in space mean mega pollution for the planet | Opinion

Webber retorts that these are short-sighted views.

“This is how aviation started. Only the very rich could fly in the beginning (and suffer the risk and the discomfort of doing so), ”he said. “And because of the income resulting from their expensive advance tickets, it has become possible for the airline industry to emerge, to become safer, more routine, much cheaper and almost ubiquitous.”

The astronauts said they were in awe of the planet as they saw it from space and had a heightened sense of responsibility for it, a phenomenon known as the ‘eye-sight effect’. together “. The term was first coined in a 1987 book by writer and philosopher Frank White, who had interviewed astronauts about their experiences.

“It would probably help even more if rich and influential people had it,” said Webber, “because in principle maybe they could do something to get the word out.”

Ultimately, he said, it could be that people could get to anywhere on the planet, across 12 time zones, in 45 minutes.

Since this is still an infant industry that will take years to mature, it’s impossible to predict which companies will thrive and last, Fu said.

Having said that, she added: “The sky is no longer a limit.”

About Troy McMiller

Check Also

Raine Capital LLC buys 1, sells

Raine Capital LLC recently filed its 13F report for the first quarter of 2022, which …