Each space tourism package in 2021 ranked: $ 125,000 to $ 60 million

Sir Richard Branson flew into space aboard a Virgin Galactic spacecraft, a trip he described as “the experience of a lifetime” at Spaceport America in New Mexico, the United States, on 11 July 2021. Virgin Galactic / Handout / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

2021 is a historic year for commercial space travel. Record number of successfully launched civilian orbital and suborbital missions: Elon Musk’s SpaceX first launched four amateur astronauts into Earth orbit; a Russian film crew spent 12 days aboard the International Space Station to shoot the world’s first film in space; and two multi-billionaires flew to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere as the first passengers of their respective space companies to show the public that their new spacecraft are safe and fun.

As with everything in its early stages, space tourism today is overpriced (although demand appears to be strong enough to keep existing businesses in this market busy for several years). But ultimately, as the technology matures and more companies enter the industry, prices should hopefully come down. As one space tourism entrepreneur said Observer this summer, going to space in the future “will be more and more like going to Europe”.

Below we have gathered all the space tourism packages available now or in the near future. We’ve listed them in order of price and compared them based on travel time, maximum altitude, passenger cabin amenities, and value for money, if you can afford it.

Spatial perspective: “Hot air balloon” towards the stratosphere

Price: $ 125,000
Flight altitude: 30 kilometers
What you will get: A relaxing six-hour ride to the stratosphere in a pressurized balloon-mounted capsule.
Availability date: 2024
Value for money: ?? (4/5 stars)

Space Perspective offers a radically smooth journey 20 miles above. Spatial perspective

Founded by the team that launched Alan Eustace in 2014 for his Guinness World Record space jump, In June, Florida-based Space Perspective began selling tickets for its yet to be licensed “Spaceship Neptune” flights.

A pressurized capsule designed to carry up to eight passengers and a pilot will be slowly lifted by a hydrogen-filled balloon the size of a soccer field when fully inflated 19 miles (30 kilometers) into the sky, about three times the commercial airplanes altitude. The passenger cabin has a bar, a bathroom and huge bay windows specially designed for sightseeing.

The balloon will float at its maximum altitude for about two hours before slowly descending to a water landing in the Atlantic Ocean, where passengers will be picked up by a recovery vessel.

Because the space balloon travels at only 12 miles per hour during ascent and descent, no special training is required before the ride. Space Perspective conducted a test flight in June. The company plans to start stealing paying customers before the end of 2024.

Virgin Galactic: a joyful sub-orbital ride

Ticket price: $ 450,000
Flight altitude: 50 km
What you will get: A 90-minute ride 50 kilometers above sea level in a SpaceShipTwo space plane. A few minutes of weightless experience during the descent.
Availability date: Now
Value for money: ?? (2/5 stars)

Virgin Galactic spacecraft cabin in payload configuration Galactic Virgo

If you like a more exciting space experience provided by a company with a bit of experience, Virgin Galactic’s 90-minute suborbital flight might be your choice.

In July, company founder Richard Branson became its first passenger and flew to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere in a VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo spacecraft with two pilots and three Virgin Galactic employees.

A pioneer in the nascent space tourism industry, Virgin Galactic began selling seats in 2013 at $ 250,000 apiece. By the time it halted sales in 2014 (after a failed test flight), the company had been collecting down payments from more than 600 potential customers. Ticket sales resumed in August of this year at a higher price of $ 450,000. Virgin Galactic said it has since received 100 bookings.

Each VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo can carry up to four passengers. Virgin Galactic plans to fly paying passengers three times a month in 2023. Given its current booking volume, it will take the company several years to clear its waiting list. So patience is your friend here.

Blue Origin: Quick Rocket Trip on the Kármán Line

Ticket price: Would have $ 28 million
Flight altitude: 100 km
What you will get: A 12-minute ride to the Kármán Line, the internationally recognized border between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space.
Availability date: Now
Value for money: ?? (1/5 stars)

A drone photo of a Blue Origin New Shepard rocket and capsule taking off from the company’s flight test facilities in West Texas for the program’s 14th test flight. Blue Origin

Blue Origin offers a suborbital flight package similar to that of Virgin Galactic. The main difference is that Virgin carries passengers on a plane while Blue Origin launches amateur astronauts in a real rocket.

On July 20, days after Branson’s space flight, Jeff Bezos also became his own space company’s first customer, soaring 107 kilometers into the sky in a combo of New Shepard booster capsules. The same spacecraft launched another crew of four, including Star Trek actor William Shatner, October 13.

Blue Origin started taking reservations in May. The exact price of the ticket is still a mystery. Bezos said Blue Origin will price New Shepard flights the same as its competitors, leading us to speculate that it would likely fall within the range of rates charged by Virgin Galactic. But, according to Tom Hanks, the ride would cost $ 28 million, which he says is the reason he turned down Bezos’ invitation to participate in the October mission. Hanks might be joking, but $ 28 million was the price an auction winner paid to steal alongside Bezos in July. Of that total, $ 19 million was donated to various space organizations, Blue Origin said. If the remaining amount went to the company itself, it was still $ 9 million.

Blue Origin said it made $ 100 million from private customers, but declined to disclose the number of tickets sold.

SpaceX: Multi-Day Orbital Travel

Ticket price: Estimated at $ 55 million
Flight altitude: 574 km
Availability date: Now
What you will get: Three-day stay inside SpaceX’s Dragon capsule circling the earth with three teammates.
Value for money: ?? (3/5 stars)

View of Earth through the glass dome of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule during the all-civilian Inspiration4 mission in September. EspaceX

SpaceX has more experience launching humans into space than any other company in this roundup. Its civilian package, rightly the most expensive of the lot, offers the experience closest to true space exploration.

In September, four amateur astronauts took off into space in a modified SpaceX Dragon capsule, equipped with a 360-degree glass dome, and spent three days flying in Earth orbit. The crewed spacecraft reached an altitude of 357 miles, about 100 miles above the average orbital altitude of the International Space Station.

The trip was paid for by tech billionaire Jared Isaacman, who was also one of the passengers. SpaceX has not disclosed the exact amount it paid. It has been estimated at $ 200 million, given that NASA pays around $ 55 million for each seat on SpaceX’s regular crewed missions to the ISS.

Axiom Space / SpaceX: Vacations on the International Space Station

Ticket price: $ 55 million
Flight altitude: 408 km
Availability date: 2022
What you will get: A 10-day trip to the International Space Station, including a one-week stay in the orbital laboratory.
Value for money: ?? (5/5 stars)

Artist’s impression of an AxStation. Axiom Space

Next year, another four-person all-civilian mission is slated to launch with a SpaceX Dragon capsule, this time to dock with the International Space Station and let the crew live in the orbital laboratory for a week. (The Inspiration4 mission remained in orbit only.)

The trip is being marketed by Houston-based Axiom Space, a company run by former NASA official Michael Suffredini. Dubbed Ax-1, the mission will be piloted by former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría. Three passengers – Larry Connor, Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe – reportedly paid $ 55 million each for the remaining seats.

Axiom has three more flights scheduled for 2022 and 2023. Under NASA’s Low Earth Orbit Commercialization Policy, two civilian ISS missions no longer than 30 days are permitted per year. Axiom actually aims to eventually build an autonomous space station to replace the aging ISS. The first major module is expected to be launched in 2024.

Roscosmos: tailor-made trip to the International Space Station

Ticket price: $ 50 million to $ 60 million
Flight altitude: 408 km
Availability date: Now
What you will get: A 12-day trip to the International Space Station.
Value for money: ?? (5/5 stars)

Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov (C), with director Klim Shipenko (R) and actress Yulia Peresild (L) pose for a photo before launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on October 5, 2021. Roscosmos Press Service / Document / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

If you don’t feel like buying your first space trip from an inexperienced private company, Russia’s national space agency Roscosmos offers an ISS getaway package very similar to what Axiom and SpaceX have to offer.

In October, Roscosmos sent an actress and a director to the ISS on a 12-day trip to shoot scenes for what will be the first film to be shot in space. On December 8, another civilian, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, known to have booked a SpaceX Starship flight around the moon in 2023, will travel to the ISS aboard a Russian Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft, which is expected to travel to the ISS. be launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Maezawa will fly with his assistant, Yozo Hirano, and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin. According to Space Adventures, a Virginia-based company currently working with Roscosmos on future commercial flights, a seat on a Soyuz spacecraft bound for the ISS will cost between $ 50 million and $ 60 million.

Each space tourism package available in 2021 ranked: $ 125,000 to $ 60 million

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