Space tourism more accessible as competition drives down price

virgin galactic space tourism

Space tourism became closer to reality with Virgin Galactic's latest successful test flight, and soon it will have competition. Image: CC IrishFireside/Flickr

Space tourism is months away from reality after a successful milestone test of Virgin Galactic’s suborbital spacecraft on Oct. 11. Virgin Galactic will have competition from Space Adventures, which is partnering with Boeing to offer a suborbital spaceflight experience. Technological advances and the prospect of competition in the marketplace are driving down space tourism prices even before the first flight has been launched.

Space virgins no more

Space tourism got a major shot in the arm when Virgin Galactic completed a flawless test flight of VSS Enterprise, the first manned commercial spacecraft. CNN reports that Virgin Galactic has a head start in becoming the world’s first commercial spaceflight line. The company has collected 370 customer deposits for the $200,000 flight totaling $50 million. Eventually Virgin will have competition from Space Adventures, which is advertising suborbital space tourism for about half that price: $102,000. Currently, a space tourism package aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft that includes a few days at the international space station is going for $40 million.

Space tourism competition heats up

The Boeing Company has been involved in spaceflight for several decades. As reported in the Seattle Post Intelligencer, the aerospace giant has entered into an agreement with Space Adventures to offer space tourism packages aboard its Boeing Crew Space Transportation-100 (CST-100). Boeing originally designed the CST-100 to ferry astronauts to the international space station. Space Adventures will broker seats in the capsule for private individuals. The CST-100 carries seven people and can be reused on multiple rockets. Boeing expects the spacecraft to be operational by 2015.

Eat all you want without gaining a pound

A Russian businessman plans to build the first space hotel by 2016. The Associated Press reports that Sergei Kostenko, CEO of Orbital Technologies, announced his intentions to build a private space hotel that will accommodate up to seven people. Orbital Technologies claims that the first hotel built in space will be “designed specifically for tourists.” It will be more comfortable than the international space station because crowding it with scientific equipment won’t be necessary. Celebrity chefs could be enlisted to create dishes on Earth prepared especially for a weightless fine dining experience in zero gravity.

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