France Media AgencyJuly 23, 2021 5:15:10 PM IST
Thrill seekers will soon be able to enjoy their adrenaline rush – and Instagram cravings – from the Last Frontier, as space tourism finally takes off.
All you’ll need is a little patience. And a lot of money.
Here is an overview of the situation.
Who offers space flights?
Two companies offer short “suborbital” jumps of a few minutes: Blue Origin by Jeff Bezos and Virgin Galactic, founded by Richard Branson.
Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket takes off vertically before the crew capsule detaches and crosses the Karman Line (62 miles, or 100 kilometers, above sea level), before falling back to Earth with three parachutes.
Virgin Galactic uses a massive carrier plane, which takes off from a horizontal runway and then drops a rocket-powered space plane. This in turn climbs to over 50 miles in elevation before descending again.
In both cases, up to six passengers can break away from their seats to experience a few minutes of weightlessness and admire the Earth from space.
When can you go?
Virgin Galactic said scheduled commercial flights will begin from 2022, after two more test flights. Their waiting list is already long, with 600 tickets sold to date.
But the company expects that it will eventually perform up to 400 flights per year. Two seats on one of the first flights are to be won in a draw: registrations are open until September 1.
Blue Origin is planning two more flights this year, the first by September at the earliest, then “a lot more” next year.
Another way to access space is reality TV. Space Hero, an upcoming show, has announced plans to send the winner of a competition to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2023.
How much will it cost?
The first tickets sold by Virgin Galactic cost between $ 200,000 and $ 250,000 each, but the company has warned that the cost of future sales will rise.
Blue Origin did not announce a price. The anonymous winner of a public auction for a seat on the first crewed flight paid $ 28 million, but decided to postpone his trip.
Their seat instead went to Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen, the company’s CEO Bob Smith, revealing that there had been several offers over $ 20 million.
The more “budget conscious” might consider spending $ 125,000 for a seat on Space Neptune, a capsule that offers 360-degree windows and is lifted into the upper atmosphere by a ball the size of a soccer stadium. .
Despite the promise of spectacular views, the balloon rises only 19 miles – far from the limit of space and weightlessness.
The 300 seats for 2024 have all been sold, but reservations are open for 2025.
Are the physical demands difficult?
No, you are only expected to be in reasonable shape. The training of Virgin Galactic lasts only five days.
Blue Origin promises to teach you everything you need to know “the day before launch,” and its first crewed flight features pioneer aviator Wally Funk, who at 82 is the oldest astronaut.
Company requirements include the ability to climb seven flights of stairs in less than 90 seconds (the height of the launch tower) and be between 5’0 “and 110 pounds (152 centimeters and 50 kilograms) and 6’4 “and 223 pounds (193 cm and 100 kg).
What about SpaceX?
Elon Musk’s company is also getting into the space tourism game, but its plans involve much longer trips. The costs are also expected to be astronomical – tens of millions of dollars.
American billionaire Jared Isaacman chartered a mission called Inspiration4 to take him and three other passengers into orbit around Earth aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon in September, launched into space by a Falcon 9 rocket.
Then in January 2022, three businessmen will travel to the ISS with an experienced astronaut. The mission, dubbed Ax-1, is organized by the company Axiom Space, which has committed to three other future flights with SpaceX.
Musk’s company is also planning a four-person orbit trip, organized through Space Adventures – the same company in charge of Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa’s flight to the ISS in December, aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. .
Maezawa is also slated to circle the moon in 2023, this time aboard a rocket still under development by SpaceX, dubbed the Starship.
He invited eight members of the public to join him, but nominations are now closed.