By Xavier Muldrow
Up until recently, astronauts have been the select group of people with the ability to travel into space and get a first-hand view of the solar system. They have had the unique opportunity to go where few humans have gone before. However, with the continuous advancement of commercial space travel, more people may be able to experience the amazing and breath-taking view of our planet from space. Space tourism is not a new idea, but each passing day it is becoming a more realistic one.
The company Virgin Galactic has been building a spaceship that will be able to take ordinary people, like you and me, into space. They are hoping to launch their first commercial flight within the next couple of years. For an estimated $200,000 a ticket, Virgin’s spaceship will be able to take 6 passengers at a time 100km above the Earth, which is officially considered to be ‘space’. Once the spaceship reaches 100km, the passengers will experience approximately 5 minutes of weightlessness before descending back down to Earth. This is an incredible feat in itself, but the truly amazing part is that they hope to be making at least 4 trips a day!
Although commercial flights will be open to everyone, you will not be able to just pack your bags the night before your trip and walk onto the spaceship. Passengers will first be required to undergo a three day training in the terminal to check their mental and physical fitness. Experts are expecting the majority of people to pass the tests.
Space tourism is truly becoming more of a reality every day. Growing up, I had a dream of one day becoming an astronaut and being able to travel through space and look down on the Earth. However, the qualifications for becoming an astronaut were not strengths of mine, and unfortunately over time my out-of-this-world dream gave way to more realistic aspirations. With the innovation of commercial space travel, that dream has started to light back up. Up-to-date about 500 people that have already traveled into space, and Virgin Galactic has stated that they hope to take thousands of people into space within the first couple years of business.
Although the first launch won’t be close to ready for at least another couple years, 400 tickets have already been booked in anticipation. If Virgin Galactic is able to successfully launch commercial spacecrafts, an entirely new industry sector will unfold. More companies will start to launch commercial space flights, meaning space travel will be within reach for even more people. It is my hope that over time the price of a ticket will decline, and I can finally see my dream come true. But the mere fact that one day I may be able to take that flight is enough for me right now.