Space tourism: what is on offer
A few minutes of weightlessness, or a few days. A little jump above the Earth’s atmosphere, or a round trip to the Moon … the age of space tourism is upon us, and – for those who can afford – it comes with plenty of options. .
This year has been important for the emerging sector, with many new missions announced. Here is the inventory.
– SpaceX –
1 / INSPIRATION 4
Elon Musk’s company is expected to send four passengers into space this week, for a total of three days. They take off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon mounted on a Falcon 9 rocket.
This will be the first orbital mission involving four non-professional astronauts. The “Inspiration4” mission is chartered by billionaire and American pilot Jared Isaacman, and will fly above the altitude of the International Space Station.
2 / AX-1
In January 2022, three businessmen will visit the ISS, alongside an experienced former NASA astronaut.
The mission, which is to last 10 days in total and named Ax-1, is being organized by the company Axiom Space, which has signed up for three more future flights with SpaceX.
They will operate in the US segment of the ISS, where they will conduct science experiments.
3 / SPACE ADVENTURE
SpaceX is also planning another orbital trip for four paying customers, organized by Space Adventures.
It was this company that organized tips for seven tourists to the ISS between 2001 and 2009 aboard Russian rockets.
3 / DEAR MOON
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is due to take a trip around the moon, presumably in 2023, aboard a Starship rocket still under development by SpaceX. The mission is called dearMoon.
– Galactic Virgo –
The Virgin Galactic experiment involves a huge carrier plane that takes off from a runway, reaches a high altitude, and then drops a rocket-powered space plane that accelerates into space.
Passengers and crew experience a few minutes of weightlessness at altitudes exceeding 50 miles (80 kilometers) – the American definition of space.
Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson participated in a July 11 test flight in New Mexico.
The company is currently grounded pending an investigation into a theft “incident”. He hopes to have routine flights by 2022.
– Blue Origin –
Blue Origin by Jeff Bezos also offers a few minutes of weightlessness, but at elevations in excess of 60 miles (100 kilometers). Its astronauts thus cross the Karman Line, the internationally recognized border of space.
The reusable rocket takes off vertically and the capsule detaches in flight.
Its descent to Earth is slowed by three huge parachutes and a thruster.
The Amazon founder was among the first four passengers to make the trip from the company’s West Texas base on July 20.
– Russian efforts –
Russia will send an actress and a director to the ISS in October, aboard a Soyuz rocket. The goal: to shoot the first fiction film in orbit and in zero gravity.
Japan’s Yusaku Maezawa is also expected to travel to the ISS in December aboard a Soyuz rocket. The trip is to last 12 days and is organized by Space Adventures.
The company has announced another mission to the ISS in 2023 in a Russian rocket, for two participants, one of whom will have the opportunity to perform a spacewalk.
– Space balloon –
Other companies are developing less ambitious projects, such as Space Perspective. Its capsule, lifted by a space balloon the size of a football stadium, offers a view of the curvature of the Earth.
Tickets cost $ 125,000, but the balloon only goes up 30 kilometers, meaning passengers won’t experience weightlessness.
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