When Will Space Tourism Be Affordable? | Is Space Tourism a Good Idea?

When will Space Tourism Be Affordable

When will Space tourism be affordable? Space tourism is a dream for many people. Now, however, companies are working hard to make this a reality for everyone. These companies have different approaches to providing affordable space tourism, but they all have a few things in common- they want more customers in order to make money and make dreams come true.

But space tourism is not something that is affordable for most. The cost of a ticket to space can range anywhere from $200,000 – $250,000 per person. However, companies are working hard on making space tourism more accessible and affordable for the masses.

The idea of space tourism is not new, but it’s finally starting to become a reality. In 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human being in outer space and key leaders like Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos are trail blazers for private enterprise as they reach out to space with SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. But when will space tourism be affordable for common people? And is it a good idea?

In this article we talk about who will be able to afford tickets to space in the future and when it will happen.

When Will Space Tourism Be Affordable?

Just now the idea of going to space is just that. An idea! A dream! The reality is that most of us don’t have the money to go there.

Get to Mars on the SpaceX StarShip
Get to Mars on the SpaceX StarShip

Right now it’s achievable only for those with enough ‘hobby money’ to do so, millionaires and billionaires. Something for them to add to the proverbial bucket list and brag about. And, you know, this is a necessary step too in order that it eventually becomes affordable to normal people.

As to when space tourism be affordable? While somewhat affordable space experiences will come, it’s so far down the road that I don’t think it will be affordable within the next 50 years. A host of companies have start to blaze rocket trails into space in the hopes of at least starting the commercial venture that is space tourism.

When the commercial aspect does commence in earnest, companies such as Virgin Galactic can charge what they wish for the privilege. Let’s face it, getting to space or sub earth orbit to the Karman Line is expensive. However, when that crowd of multi-millionaires runs dry what then will happen in terms of reaching a wider (less well off) audience of dreamers and still being profitable?

The biggest thing which will drive the price of space tourism down is technology. In order to carry 50 to 100 passengers, major developments need to occur in propulsion systems where fuel payload is less and engineering devise a system that can re-purpose elements in the outside air. A new tank could replace the space shuttle’s current internal fuel tank, and would be more efficient. In theory such advances in technology will mean a more affordable price for all passengers.

SpaceX are working on their Starship with a view towards Mars inhabitation and carrying up to 100 passengers. Starship was previous called BFR (Big Falcon Rocket or replace the F with your own choice).

Starship will ultimately be a reusable rocket system ferrying people too and from various celestial bodies. That SpaceX and Blue Origin are championing the re-usability of their rockets is a key factor in keeping prices down now and in the future.

So what factors will push the price down? Lets list them out

  • Technology – with advancements in all modern life comes improved technology. Think launch pipes and launch loops!
  • Methane based fuel and refueling from Mars or space. Fossil fuels are a thing of the past and in terms of a refuel on Mars to return to Earth, Methane will need to be made. Elon Musk and SpaceX have theorized and developed a method of creating methane-based fuel.
  • Increased capacity on StarShips and competitor space vessels
  • Increased launches to make the ferrying of passengers regular and common place
  • Increased safety and zero deaths. Unfortunately lives will be lost as Space Tourism and exploration kicks into gear. Any increase in safety issues could see reduced millionaires queuing up for the ride and so price reductions will come in order to bring on board new customers.
  • Pioneers who are not worried about life insurance or the premiums spiraling out of control!
ISS Viewing port view of Earth
ISS Viewing port view of Earth

How Will We Make Space Hotels?

A company called Bigelow Aerospace are spearheading the concept of deployable space habitats both for commercial earth orbit and, later, lunar habitats and even martian habitats. All these initial habitats are expandable so it can increase in size with time. As to cost of this is anyone’s guess as a full package experience will need to include training for launch and survival. Space hotel with moon view! Nice!

What Space Experiences Will Be Available?

There will no doubt be tiers of price categories for the experiences. I can see the experiences being broken into such categories as:

Entry Level -Tier 1 Sub Orbital Flight

Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin and others will offer trips where customers can experience zero-G and, for a few minutes only, see the Earth below them in its entirety. This is all some people will want.

Tier 2. Earth Orbit and ISS Experience

You cannot get to the ISS without earth Orbit and chasing down the ISS. Virgin Galactic are already taking serious inquiries from private individuals and have agreement with NASA’s Johnson Space Center on the development of an orbital astronaut readiness program.

Tier 3 Earth Orbit Space Hotel Experience

It will be a while before anyone can afford to build space hotels, but we’re getting closer with the likes of Bigelow. Much like the ISS experience, it would still entail a lot of training to cope with G forces, safety and turnaround on the launch vessel for ferrying new tourists to and from earth to the hotel. What an opportunity for those who can afford such a vacation.

Tier 4 Moon Flyby

I would imagine this will entail a launch plus ISS layover/refuel and lunar flyby or slingshot back to earth. Can’t even contemplate how much this would cost plus the training involved in order to get there.

Tier 5 Moon Landing

This is so far in the future but will it happen before Elon Musk’s vision for Mars inhabitation is anyone’s guess. Watch this space.

Is Space Tourism A Good Idea?

Is space tourism a good idea? It does boil down to your personal views really.

Space tourism as a whole is in it’s infancy and vastly beyond the means for most. As such it’s the responsibility of those with the funds to be pioneers and blaze trails for all others who may follow.

The idea is that space tourism will be more affordable and accessible in time, but for now only a handful can afford such luxury.

I do believe it’s a good idea. Long has mankind looked to the skies and dreamed of traveling into the expanse, now we are on the verge of great things.

Conclusion:

The future of space tourism is wide open. There are so many factors that make it difficult to predict when the price will go down enough for average people to afford a ticket. Some experts say there’s a long way to go before we see prices at $50,000 or below but others think that could happen in just 10-15 years and yet another group says 50 years or more! 

There is a lot of work that needs to be done before space tourism becomes accessible for the masses. Even with Elon Musk’s vision and progress by Virgin Galactic and XCOR, there are still many obstacles facing us in order to get down to an affordable price point. It will take time and perseverance from both governments and private companies alike in order to make this dream come true.

For now, let’s hope that those with deep pockets will take up this pioneering spirit and see what we all have in store when these prices come down! It won’t be long until we all have our chance at seeing what lies beyond Earth’s atmosphere (if you’re willing). Visit Space just once on one of these trips!

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