The Rise of Space Tourism
by Tomas Rodrigo Mendez Mendez | published Dec. 25th, 2021
For millionaires and billionaires, space tourism is considered the next step of the human race into space.
Fortunately, for potential space tourists in 2021, advanced technology, space station construction and new knowledge of space travel has opened the door for a new type of leisure.
The advent of space tourism occurred at the end of the 1990s, incited by a deal between a Russian company, MirCorp, and an American company: Space Adventures Ltd.
MirCorp was a private venture in charge of its own space station, "Mir," and to generate income for maintenance, the company decided to sell a trip to Mir. The first paying passenger for this trip was ex-NASA engineer, Dennis Tito.
Space Adventures Ltd. was founded in 1998 by Eric Anderson, providing zero-gravity atmospheric flights, orbital space lifts and other spaceflight-related experiences. They also hoped to offer the first commercial space flight. zero-gravity atmospheric flights, orbital space lifts and other spaceflight-related experiences. They also hoped to offer the first commercial space flight.
Before Tito could make his trip with MirCorp, however, the decision was made to deorbit its space station, and Space Adventures Ltd. handed off the mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
While many companies have tried to chart a path in space tourism, only three main ones have made an impact: SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic.
Shivram Mahendran, a
Elon Musk, the current CEO of Tesla, created SpaceX with the goal of reducing space transportation costs and expanding our reach within the solar system.
SpaceX has gained an opportunity to work with NASA. This contract has given the company greater commercial visibility.
"SpaceX’s mission is simple ... taking crew and spaceships to Mars by 2050," Mahendran said.
"SpaceX’s mission is simple ... taking crew and spaceships to Mars by 2050."
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is also using his wealth to establish space-based properties. While SpaceX's goal is directly related to exploring other planets, Bezos's is to create a space hotel.
Blue Origin was also in the running to partner with NASA, but SpaceX won the bid instead.
Despite this, Blue Origin continues their work towards space tourism. Announced in Oct. 2021, Blue Origin and Sierra Space hope to launch Orbital Reef, their own space station, by the late 2020s.
This commercially developed, owned and operated space station will be built in low Earth orbit, with the main goal of creating a human habitat in space. It is expected to be operating in the second half of the current decade.
Another company, Virgin Galactic, was the first to openly offer space trips to civilians. However, it has been postponing its commercial flights due to various factors, including manufacturing defects.
2021 seems to be the year of private companies launching civilians, alongside with trained astronauts, into space. As of Nov. 8, 2021, only 16 people have made the journey so far: four with SpaceX, four with Virgin Galactic and eight with Blue Origin.
As space tourism evolves, the number of spaceflight participants will grow. Suborbital and orbital flights will inevitably give way to lunar excursions and trips to Mars. By that time, space tourism may become a full-fledged industry capable of truly opening the frontier of space.
Convenient Space Gadgets
Due to space tourism's current popularity, a trend has led to the creation of various new technologies that space tourists will be able to utilize.
Product designers have envisioned several instruments to meet the basic needs of future space tourists including, but not limited to: air, heat, light and food.
One instruments that may be used is the "aerating loop," designed to provide an extra kick of oxygen. Other items such as a personal heater, spatial food steamer and floating light may also be useful.
While we wait for space tourism to ramp up though, Virtual Reality (VR) technology While we wait for space tourism to ramp up though, Virtual Reality (VR) technology While we wait for space tourism to ramp up though, Virtual Reality (VR) technology has been developed to see space from Earth.
Michelle Bobilev is a fourth year Digital Humanities and Social Sciences student and is currently developing her CAPSTONE project: a virtual reality planetarium.
"The VR Planetarium is a virtual reality model of a planetarium designed in Unreal Engine with 3D assets created with Blender modeling software," Bobilev explained.
She added that with the use of VR headsets and controllers, users can navigate the virtual space and choose from a variety of locations to explore.
"If the people have the tool to see the galaxy and what is out there ... VR will be an essential gadget before taking a flight there," she said.
"If the people have the tool to see the galaxy and what is out there ... VR will be an essential gadget before taking a flight there."
In the future, space tourists would be able to utilize these gadgets as a way to visualize and get a taste of what they are looking to experience out there.
Some people are concerned about the environmental impact of space tourism. Experts claim rocket launches could damage our ozone layer. Certain chemicals in rocket fumes may be getting trapped in the stratosphere allowing them to eat away at it.
Until now, this problem hasn't been a huge issue due to limited launches. With rocket launches becoming more frequent due to space tourism, however, it could become a much bigger contributor to climate change.
Another issue is that space tourism is a luxury only available for few due to the cost. Private companies and billionaires will not be the only ones to benefit from leisurely space travel though.Another issue is that space tourism is a luxury only available for few due to the cost. Private companies and billionaires will not be the only ones to benefit from leisurely space travel though.
The rise of space tourism can provide further development of terrestrial observation systems and the preparation of technologies for interplanetary travel, among other things.
This new era of research could make space science more accessible. In addition, improvements in technologies on earth are often based on innovations that started in space. Our trip to the moon gave us our running shoes, foam mattresses and even bulletproof vests.
So who knows what can come from this new age of space exploration.