Commercial Space Travel: A Trip Like No Other

Hang on to your peanuts! Companies have begun preparation for commercial flights going to space.

Credit: Medium

Recently, the three main space exploration companies, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic and SpaceX have announced their services for commercial space travel. Each company is offering something different at vastly expensive prices.

Out of This World

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is also the owner of aerospace company Blue Origin and announced their space program last month. The company had sent its New Shepard Rocket on passengerless missions and came back successfully without any complications. The duration of the excursion is only ten minutes. However, it is estimated to cost around $200,000 US. The rocket will fly up about 100 km above the Earth near the Karmen Line of the thermosphere where you can have a view of the planet.

While Bezos’s Blue Origin hasn’t announced official prices, an auction for a seat to join him and his brother on his brief visit to space in July went for a cool $28 million.

Virgin Galactic was the next to get their commercial launch license and plans to launch people into space in July. Virgin Galactic is the aerospace branch of the Virgin flight company currently being regulated under Richard Branson. The company also has big plans for space travel, conducting 400 commercial space flights a year whilst spending $40 million on spaceships. These plans will be in motion within few years.

In competition with the other companies, Virgin Galactic will be launching brief space flights next month for the cost of $250,000. The flight will be similar to Blue Origin’s ten-minute excursion.

Credit: AP

Lastly, Elon Musk’s SpaceX has also set up plans for launch in late 2021 with the promise of a full civilian space flight. The flight aims to raise awareness for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and begin “a new era for human spaceflight and exploration.”

SpaceX will also partner up with Axiom Space to send more civilians to visit the international space station. This flight is estimated to be worth $55 million to fly and stay at the station for what we’re hoping is more than ten minutes.

Is Space Travel Safe?

With all these multi-billion dollar companies rushing out to space, many have wondered about the safety of travelling 100km straight up. Rockets and space crafts are historically fragile and difficult to build. Especially considering the limitless amount of explosive and flammable chemicals in use to launch these beasts. 

Elon Musk’s Starship rocket prototypes have frequently exploded. Of course, we can not rush to conclusions based on prototypes, but you can never be too cautious.

As it is now, there are few laws and regulations regarding the safety of space travel. There simply is little or no precedent for commercial space flight. Mark Sundahl, an expert at space law told Discover Magazine,

“they said ‘We’re going to prove we’re protecting space tourists by just requiring the companies to tell them that they may die. And then it’s up to them to make a decision if they want to take that risk or not.’ That’s the approach that the government took, and it is somewhat controversial.”

So you might want to hold off on space travel. Until they fully figure out the legal and safety aspects of this kind of tourism.

The Future Of Space Tourism

Image: Orion Span

The future of commercial space travel almost sounds like sci-fi as companies build accommodation and other holiday venues in space. The sudden interest in commercial space travel has unleashed a new market.

London based travel agency, RocketBreaks, has clutched the opportunity to be the first to provide a luxury space experience. They will arrange flights, accommodation and entertainment along with another company Orion Span. Orion Span plans to build the Aurora Station Hotel which is set to float around for periods of 12 days.

Either way, the commercial space race is now underway. Although we will not be able to afford these visits to outer space, that might be for the better as we observe the future happen before our very eyes. 

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