Is Space Tourism Finally Coming?
It Will Happen, And It Will Make You Think
December 26, 2017, Bruno Jacobsen
Until recently, space tourism was the stuff of science fiction. But now, thanks in large to private companies pushing for it, we are only a couple of years away. While this spells exciting times, it also brings up questions about our very own nature.
Earlier this month, Jeff Bezo's Blue Origin launched its New Shepard rocket into space. It was a success. It was the first of its kind equipped with large windows, so passengers can gaze out into the universe. Inside, there was a test dummy, aptly named Mannequin Skywalker. Skywalker's purpose was to test the impact of such flights on real humans. (Check out the video here.)
We've talked about space tourism for ages, but only now are we getting closer. While more tests are needed, Blue Origin now expects to start flying people into space within 2 years.
But Blue Origin is not the only company looking into this. Earlier this year, SpaceX announced that two individuals paid them to be taken for a trip around the moon. While tourism may not be the only purpose, it is a good example of interest around space exploration. And, of course, Musk is planning to do much more in space than just flying people around the moon. But even that can serve his long-term interests.
Then there's Virgin Galactic. Richard Branson's company is also planning to begin offering trips to space as early as 2018. Its SpaceShipTwo is designed to carry 6 passengers and 2 crew members. A trip will cost 250,000 dollars, and about 500 people have already signed up.
Luxury hotels in space
But space tourism isn't exclusive to successful billionaires. Governments are getting in on it too. Russia's own space agency, Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities, is said to be planning a luxury hotel in space. It would be an attached module in the current International Space Station. Costs would range between 279 million dollars to 446 million dollars.
The ISS will be retired in 2028 though, so that might complicate things. Not to mention that it is not an easy task to build a new module onto the ISS.
While we will have to wait at least a couple of years for space tourism (and unless we are rich, probably more), it is coming. With private companies getting in the game, we are likely to see even quicker progress in the race to space.
But this isn't just a matter of space tourism or space colonies. Venturing into space like never before will raise many questions. It will make us wonder what new possibilities will be created. What new technologies will emerge? Which new industries will come into existence? And what will it mean for the future of our humankind?
And it will also force us to ask deeper questions. What will be of our current home? Will a perspective from above change the way we see things on Earth? Is leaving Earth, even if not everyone does so, the right answer to our problems? And if we do leave it, will we still call it home?