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Space tourism at T-minus one

By Kyan Wang Dec. 15, 2022

Every child dreams of becoming an astronaut, blasting off into unknown corners of the galaxy. Soon, these wishes may touch down into the real world as space tourism, spearheaded by private companies, rapidly grows.

While the developing space tourism industry remains prohibitively expensive—Blue Origin’s ticket prices range in the millions for a brief ten-minute trip to low Earth orbit—The New York Times states that reservations for trips are skyrocketing. For instance, spaceflight company Virgin Galactic promises to take customers to space for $455,000 by 2023, and hundreds have already booked tickets.

For now, only the ultra-wealthy have taken commercial rockets. Billionaire and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos launched into space in July 2021 in the first crewed mission of his company’s spacecraft. Although the mission was the first commercially crewed launch since Russia’s last Soyuz mission in 2009, the amount of money that has been sunk into Blue Origin is colossal. According to Fortune, Bezos has funneled $5.5 billion into Blue Origin, yet the company’s earnings have been trivial; tickets are in high demand, but achieving profitable growth is years away. However, despite the company’s slow start—just six space flights launched—its contributions to the growing industry cannot be understated.

Progress toward relatively affordable space tourism will likely be driven by the affluent elite in their never-ending quests for glory. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the infamously contentious and rich Elon Musk. In pursuit of his dream to die on Mars, he has built SpaceX, the largest private spaceflight company in the world. So far, the company has merely dabbled in space tourism, sending two commercial missions aboard its Crew Dragon spacecraft. Per CNBC, the company is planning its third space tourism mission to take passengers to the moon. However, planetary tourism still remains an uncharted frontier.

NASA’s recent Artemis I launch—the first in the Artemis program that aims to bring humans back to the Moon and establish a permanent base there—signals humanity’s continued baby steps towards lunar colonization, a major turning point in human history. Someday, we may see regular space flights departing from Earth for both lunar tourism and settlement.

Humanity is closer than ever yet still just as far from achieving affordable space tourism. We may have been born too early to explore the stars, but I’ll settle for the solar system.

About the Contributor

Kyan Wang

staff writer

Kyan Wang is a sophomore at Leland High School and the Tech Columnist and staff writer for The Charger Account. In his free time, he enjoys wasting away on his computer and running.

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