Much has changed in the world of travelling since long distances can comfortably be covered by plane in a few hours or at least within one day. Now, the world doesn't seem to be enough for exploring: People want to literally reach for the moon and companies scramble to provide feasible solutions for space travel. Is space tourism still a dream or slowly turning into reality?
Who is working on what?
As was the case with the Space Race during the last century, the present sees the USA and Russia – as well as other European countries – competing to get a foot into the space travel business. The company 'Space Adventures' is based in the US and can boast the success of having already sent tourists into space. Up to date, seven passengers have paid to spend several days at the International Space Station. The pioneer in this field was Dennis Tito, an American businessman with a taste for the unusual. Altogether, the company has made it possible for these seven travelers to spend two months in space. A slightly different approach is in plan by Richard Branson. His concept 'Virgin Galactic' includes his own vehicle-cum-hotel, Spaceship Two. Instead of long vacation-like spells in space, the idea is to offer the tourists a flight duration between 3 to 4 hours, 6 minutes of experiencing the state of weightlessness and travelling speeds of up to 2500 mph. The first flights are scheduled to happen in 2013 and seats can already be booked.
More so than flight through space and time, an actual holiday in space is what makes people excited. Bearing that in mind, a Spanish company called the 'Spanish Galactic Suite Group' strives to provide resort-like hotel complexes. A stay of four days is intended and even an exclusive spa feature making use of weightlessness is in planning. 2016 might see the launching of the so called 'Orbital Technologies’ Commercial Space Station' which will stand for a more luxurious way of space travel reminiscent of 5-star hotels on earth.
The pros and cons
Space travel is something which can actually be realized today, as some examples from the US have proved. It is, however, a way of tourism still reserved for the very wealthy and equally daring. Amounts ranging from $20 million to $35 million have been paid by the seven travelers to the International Space Station and 'Virgin Galactic' will ask for a minimum of $200,000. In some cases, the cost for equipment etc. will have to be covered by the travellers, too. On top of that, a trip to space brings considerable risks with it and demands a good overall physical fitness as well as special training beforehand. The concept of mass tourism and the construction of big hotels is still far beyond our horizon but it might be possible that over time, travelling cost will be reduced. Fact is that in most cases, companies are still stuck in the testing phase and on top of that face legal issues. Interest in space travel is high, though.
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