When could daily private flights to space become a reality?

It’s the long-time dream of most civilians to visit and spend time in space. From multiple space movies like Star Wars to remarkable books and TV series based on space travel, civilian space travel has remained a hot topic for decades. It’s the latter half of 2021 when the dream turned into reality, and daily private flights to space became possible.  

Space tourism became reality in 2021: Inspiration4

Multiple space travel companies and enterprises are competing to launch the first-ever spacecraft to take civilians on a trip to space. With the advent of so many innovations, Inspiration4 became the first-ever space tourism mission to send four civilian astronauts into space. Its partnership with SpaceX has led to the hope of a new era where civilians can visit space every day.  

The crew launched and blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It’s the same remarkable landmark where the Space Shuttle and Apollo missions launched from. The civilian astronauts took off from the same Crew Dragon spacecraft. This vehicle was docked at the ISS in late 2020 with four expert astronauts strapped on it. 

On February 7, 2021, every sports enthusiast watching the Super Bowl LV can remember getting a 30-second commercial preview from Inspiration4. Jared Isaacman led this space travel mission with other crew members named Chris Sembroski, Hayley Arceneaux, and Dr. Sian Proctor. Jared is a well-trained, well-experienced, and accomplished military and commercial aircraft pilot. 

Space tourism company: SpaceX

SpaceX has become the first-ever company to win the competitive race for civilian space travel after materializing Inspiration4. Led by the multi-billionaire entrepreneur and scientist Elon Musk, SpaceX has become the quintessence of space tourism

Given the Starlink program, SpaceX is now indulged in launching satellites. However, the space travel company has made numerous announcements related to ‘space tourism’ collaborations that may launch any time this year. The company introduced the Dragon capsule spacecraft that will be used for holding up to 7 civilian astronauts. However, they have been clear with their announcement that the initial daily flights will only carry four civilians to space at a time. 

Space tourism company: Axiom Space

Axiom Space has made its way into the space travel competition by introducing the world’s first-ever commercial space station, where civilian space travelers can live for multiple days in space. 

In 2021, Axiom launched its first-ever commercial-crew mission to the ISS or the International Space Station. With the beginning of civilian space travel, professional astronauts will help guide each civilian space explorer. With the initial missions, Axiom had successfully trained the space crews. 

Space tourism company: Space Adventures

Launched in 1998, Space Adventures persists in its identity as one of the oldest space tourism companies in this industry. By using the Russian Soyuz rocket, this company had successfully sent civilians into the ISS. This company had plans to collaborate with SpaceX to use their Falcon rockets for launching more civilians in private flights to space.

In a 2020 announcement, the company said that it came into agreement with SpaceX for launching private citizens in their Crew Dragon spacecraft from Florida.  

First civilian to orbit the moon: Yusaka Maezawa

The billionaire Japanese entrepreneur Yusaka Maezawa is the first civilian to take a tour of the International Space Station after a decade. This space enthusiast strives to go on a more ambitious space trip around the moon. He signed a collaboration with Elon Musk for the “moonshot project” and is prepared to become the first civilian to orbit the moon on the Big Falcon Rocket by the end of 2023. 

Space tourism company: Blue Origin

Another leading space tourism company is Blue Origin, led by the billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. At the beginning of February 2021, Jeff announced to the media that he would step down from his role as the Amazon CEO to give more focus on his other business projects, including Blue Origin. One of the most remarkable innovations by this space tourism company is the “11-minute space flights.”

Blue Origin will use its Western Texas launch site to introduce and offer low-earth orbit spaceflights. The company has introduced the New Shephard rocket system for taking up to six civilians at a time to the edge of space for 11 minutes. For training, civilian passengers need to arrive at the launch site two days before the spaceflight takes off. When exploring the edge of space, civilian astronauts can enjoy the weightless microgravity experience and look outside the large spacecraft window to get the lifetime visual experience of space and Earth. 

When reentering the Earth’s atmosphere, the civilian astronauts will land in the desert area near El Paso in Texas. They will land on Earth in their capsule via strong and advanced parachutes. However, the cost of this space exploration is not announced or displayed by Blue Origin. Some rumors indicate the cost of each ticket to be around $200,000 to $250,000 for a civilian traveler. 

Blue Origin’s Blue Moon

In 1972, the last lunar landing took place by NASA. Now, most countries show interest in paying a visit to the moon. For instance, the US government and NASA are working on their space exploration program to the moon to send the first female on the celestial body by 2024. 

As a part of the Artemis program, the US government faces difficulty choosing the new lunar lander. If the program achieves success, humankind will be able to live full-time on the moon. The Blue Moon spacecraft is introduced by Blue Origin. There is a cargo version to this spacecraft along with a NASA-designed Human Landing System. 

Space tourism company: Virgin Galactic

Richard Branson leads this space tourism company as he considers the company to be a crucial part of his ‘Virgin’ family. Richard chose Spaceport America in New Mexico to operate his company – Virgin Galactic. Like many other space tourism companies, Virgin Galactic had to undergo several test flight phases to launch its SpaceShipTwo Unity 22 vehicle into space finally. 

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo

Th3e first commercial spaceflight by Virgin Galactic will use the SpaceShipTwo. This spacecraft can hold up to six civilian astronauts. Each ticket for this space flight costs at least $350,000. Like Blue Origin’s New Shephard spacecraft, this unit by Virgin Galactic will only be in space for a few minutes. However, from take-off to landing, the flight will consume up to 2.5 hours for the entire space trip. 

Virgin Galactic: Mission to International Space Station

Virgin Galactic offers space travel missions to the ISS or the International Space Station too. However, only a few details are available on the cost and duration of the space trip. However, civilians interested in space travel can join the inquiry process to determine more on this process. 

Final words

Civilian space tourism has become a reality with the advent of advanced space flights by private space travel companies like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin. The significant increase in civilian space travel will introduce enormous opportunities for astronomers and scientists to conduct space-related experiments. As of now, the cost of a trip for space tourism remains exorbitant and prescriptive. 

Moreover, space tourists will have to undergo some adequate mental and physical training, similar to the training needed before any adventurous sport like skydiving. Conclusively, the latter half of 2021 had made daily private flights to space become a reality. However, space travel companies must first conquer some safety and government-mandated guidelines.

However, space travel companies need to work on their pricing model and come up with something that’s affordable for every civilian to make their dream of space travel come true. For now, it’s best to say that only millionaires and billionaires can fulfill this dream.

Related Articles

Back to top button