Space tourism sales, Curran acknowledges, “are reasonably hard to come by” and come mostly from peer-to-peer networking. “You can imagine that people who spend $450,000 to go into space are probably operating in circles that are not the same as yours and mine,” he said.
Some of Mr. Curran’s most popular offerings include flights where you can experience the same feeling of weightlessness that astronauts feel in space, which he organizes for clients via chartered and specialized Boeing 727s that fly in parabolic arcs to imitate being in space. Operators including Zero G also offer the service; the cost is about $8,200.
You can almost count the number of completed space tourist launches on the one hand – Blue Origin had four; SpaceX, two. Virgin Galactic, meanwhile, announced on Thursday that the launch of its commercial passenger service, originally scheduled for late 2022, has been postponed until early 2023. Many of those on waiting lists are biding their time before the take-off by enrolling in training. Axiom Space, which has a contract with SpaceX, is currently offering training in partnership with NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Virgin Galactic, which already offers a “customized future astronaut preparation program” at its Spaceport America facility in New Mexico, is also partnering with NASA to create a training program for private astronauts.
Future space tourists should not expect the rigors that NASA astronauts face. Training for Virgin Galactic’s three-hour journeys is included in the price of a ticket and lasts a few days; it includes pilot briefings and is “equipped with your custom-fit Under Armor spacesuit and boots,” according to its website.
Not ready for a rocket? Hot air balloon rides offer a less hair-raising celestial experience.
“We go into space at 20 km/h, which means it’s very smooth and very smooth. You’re not moving away from Earth,” said Jane Poynter, co-founder and co-CEO of Space Perspective, which is preparing its own tourist balloon spacecraft, Spaceship Neptune. If all goes according to plan, trips are expected to begin from Florida in 2024, at a cost of $125,000 per person. It’s a fraction of the price of Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, but still more than double the average annual salary of an American worker.
Neither Space Perspective nor World View has the required FAA approval yet to operate flights.
Travel trends that will define 2022
Looking forward. As governments around the world ease coronavirus restrictions, the travel industry is hoping this will be the year travel comes back strong. Here’s what to expect:
Whether a capsule or a rocket is your means of transportation, travel insurance company Battleface launched a civilian space insurance plan in late 2021, a direct response, Chief Executive Sasha Gainullin said, to an increase in space tourism interest and infrastructure. Benefits include accidental death and permanent disability in space and are valid for spaceflight on carriers such as SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, as well as stratospheric balloon flights. They’ve had many inquiries, Mr. Gainullin said, but no purchases yet.