The lure of space tourism

By | Category: Travel destinations

Today sees the 52nd anniversary of man’s first walk on the moon. The year also sees the 60th anniversary of the first flight into outer space by Yuri Gagarin in April 1961 to be followed a month later by the first American, Alan Shephard.

Unlike Richard Branson’s plane, the rocket used by Jeff Bezos looks more like a space mission. Image copyright; Blue Origin

It seems appropriate that this year sees the first space tourism flights firstly by Richard Branson and now by Jeff Bezos and to be followed by Elon Musk.

Although the first two have taken passengers with them, it has been more of a proving exercise rather than genuine space tourism.

But is this the beginning of space tourism or is it just the egos of three extraordinarily rich men who want to prove something to each other?

It has been a while in coming. Branson’s Virgin Galactic was founded as long ago as 2004 – 17 years ago. Bezos and Musk are more recent entrants.

There is always a demand for the novel and the new so I have no doubt that there will be people willing to pay to go into space and to be able to experience something that the vast majority of us cannot and probably won’t be able to afford.

But given the world’s population, there are over 2,000 billionaires and well in excess of 25 million multi-millionaires so there is a market of probably 250-750,000 potential space tourists. That should keep the providers busy whenever they start carrying real space tourists.

But when might the rest of us have the opportunity to see our planet from space?

Ordinary tourists – if I can use the phrase without sounding condescending – will have to wait. There will be people, just as there are now, who will go into debt, take out loans or scrimp and save to take a holiday. People like that will probably be in the queue already willing to pay whatever it takes to get into space.

There are those that will cruise around the world for over 100 days; they exist but they are few and far between and it will be the same with space tourism.

At least for a few more years yet.

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