Space Travel is tourism in which tourists pays big chunk of money for commercial seats in the spaceships for Space travel adventure. Space travel opportunity is so far very limited and expansive. Space Adventures, a company, which books flights for space tourists on the spacecraft of Russian Space Agency, charges $25 to 40 million per seat.
These space tourists get the chance to experience the adventure of being in Space. First of all these tourists are given training for surviving in Space especially on how to work in zero gravity. Then these tourists fly to the space in Russian Space Agency aircraft with astronauts into the International Space Station hovering in the Earth's Orbit. Tourists spends 7 to 15 days on the Space station experiencing the once in a lifetime opportunity.
The dream of space travel begins early with the success of sending astronauts in the Space by both Russia and United States. Landing of Apollo 11 on Moon and Neil Armstrong becoming first man to set foot on Moon also increased the temptation. Ambitions of man to travel in Space were further increased by the Sci-Fi books and Movies like Star Wars, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
By the beginning of new Millennium, Space travel dream was becoming stronger. Apart from NASA who was critic of sending tourist in Space all other Space Agencies started to explore ways of sending tourists into Space. In 2001 Russian Space Agency agreed to take an American businessman into the Space.
Dennis Tito became the first man in history to buy a commerical space flight ticket. This officially marked the beginning of the Space tourism. Russian Federal Space Agency agreed to take "Dennis Tito" an American businessman into space. Tito came under huge criticism from NASA who later refused to provide additional training to Tito. Later Space Adventures came forward and arranged the trip of Tito on Russian Space Agency flight Soyuz TM-32 on April 28, 2001. Tito spent 9 days in the International Space Center for which he paid $20 million.
Next year Mark Shuttleworth from South Africa went into Space with the help of Russian Space Agency after paying the big amount of $20 million. He went in space on 25 April 2002 on the Russian Soyuz TM-34 mission. He spent 11 days in Space and during his stay, he also talked to Nelson Mandela and a 14 year old South African girl via radio. Since then 5 more tourists have traveled to Space.
Successful space travel expedition by Tito and Shuttleworth opened the gate for the future Space tourism program. Despite the early success, Space travel market remained very low due to the expanses and NASA kept opposing the idea of taking tourists in Space.
On the other hand, Russian Space Agency was tempted with 2 successful tourist missions and planned to take more tourists in space. But their plans suffered a major setback with the crash of Space Shuttle Columbia. Space tourism program by the Russian Space Agency was temporally put on hold as Soyuz remained the only mode of transportation to International Space Station.
Russia reopened the Space tourism program in 2006 by taking Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian American as the fourth space tourist. In 2010 Russian Space Agency announced to launch five Soyuz spacecrafts a year since 2012 of which one could be use for Space Tourism.
Despite the early success cost of the space travel program remained as the big concerned. Space tourism experts believed that the Space travel success will be determine by the cost. The cost of the space tourism needs to come down dramatically to attract more tourists.
In order to cut the expanses of Space travel, few companies came up with the idea of Suborbital flights which will take tourists into 100 km above the Earth's surface for 4 to 6 minutes giving them the great view of Earth and the star. Great thing about the Suborbital flights are that they don't require much training and its inexpensive, around $200,000.
Virgin Galactic, owned by Sir Richard Branson was the first company to offer space travel adventure at the price of $200,000. For this price space tourists will experience 6 minutes of weightlessness during 2 and half hour flight. company has yet to take flight in space and still managed to book 200 seats for their suborbital space tourism flights. Virgin Galactic do have plans to reduce the cost per Space tourist from $200,00 to $20,000. Company has said to book over 80,000 seats in advance making it the most successful space travel company.
Space Adventures Company in collaboration in Armadillo Aerospace has also announced similar program in 2010. Armadillo is working on a space ship to take tourists 100 km into space where tourists can experience weightlessness and 360-degree views of Earth at the unbelievable price of $102,000 per ticket. Ship is expected to have 100 seats.
Zero-G - While not actual Space travel, the weightlessness experienced in orbit can be duplicated (for durations of less than a minute at a time) with a calibrated parabolic aircraft flight, which alternates low g-forces at the heights of its arcs with high g-forces at the bottoms. The parabolic flights are notoriously nausea-inducing, leading to the nickname Vomit Comet, but commercial operators claim that their shorter flights (15 parabolas) are considerably gentler than lengthy research flights (40-80).
Incredible Adventures, Books flights with Zero Gravity Corp and on the Russian Space Agency's similarly equipped IL-76 MDK, departing from Moscow.
Zero Gravity Corporation, Flights from Las Vegas (Nevada) and Cape Canaveral (Florida) on a modified 727 with a large compartment suitable for weightless tumbling, including several brief simulations of freefall, Lunar gravity (1/6 Terran), and Martian gravity (1/3 Terran). $3,675/person.
Space Travellers International, Offering flights with Russian Ilyushin 76 MDK (Training airplane of the Cosmonauts) departing from Moscow and also zero-G flights in US with Boeing B-727-200. Russian Zero G-Flight with a 4-day program: 5.800,- Euro.
Flights at altitudes of less than 100 km do not qualify as true Space flight, but it is possible to see the curvature of the Earth from altitudes as (comparatively) low as 25 km.
Space Adventures, Arranges flights on Russian MiG-25 Foxbat jet flights to 25,000 meters. Estimated price tag: $12,000 per flight.
Space Travelers International, Arranges flights on Russian MiG-31 Foxhound jet flights up to 25,000 meters. Estimated price tag: €21,500 per flight included 4-day program in Russia
Sub-orbital flight is defined as flight at altitudes higher than 100 km but at speeds insufficient to achieve orbit. While there are currently no operators offering sub-orbital flight, the privately funded and built SpaceShipOne in 2004 demonstrated that this is a possible market and the race is on to commercialize it.
Virgin Galactic, Founded by who else but Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic is selling tickets for sub-orbital flights on SpaceShipTwo, planned to start in 2009, for a cool $200,000 a pop. The company has placed an order for five second-generation spaceships from Scaled Composites, the builders of SpaceShipOne. There are plans for Space ports in New Mexico, USA and Kiruna, Sweden for those who would rather opt for a European departure, though initial flights will be from the Spaceport in Mojave, departing weekly, and eventually once or twice daily. 3 day training will be available on site for the 2.5 hour flight.
You can book sub orbital space flights directly from Virgin Galatic.
Armadillo Aerospace, is also exploring the opportunity of organizing sub orbital flights for the tourists. The company is working on a rocket that will take tourists into space. The price of the ticket will be around $102,000 which is half the price comparing to Virgin Galactic. Armadillo Aerospace has strike a deal with Space Adventures that has now become only company to offer sub orbital flights tickets.
All that sub-orbital stuff is pretty nifty, but these days no one's really ready to accept that you were "in Space" until you've been in orbit around the Earth. There's no single altitude for this (it depends on your orbital velocity), but due to atmospheric drag it's only practical above 350 km. Commonly known as Low Earth Orbit, this is currently the exclusive domain of U.S. Space Shuttles, Russian Soyuz vessels, Chinese Shenzhou craft, and the International Space Station. This itinerary is likely the most expensive in the world.
Space Adventures Orbital Flights: Space Adventures has organized orbital flights to the International Space Station (ISS). $20 million per person will buy you basic training and a launch on a Soyuz vessel from the Russian Cosmodrome at Baikonur to the ISS. Note that participants must also fulfill certain physical fitness requirements to ensure their and the mission's safety. An additional $20 million "EVA upgrade" adds 90 minutes of extra-vehicular activity (better known as a "Spacewalk") to your trip; this option requires a month of training and has additional fitness qualifications.
Human travel beyond low Earth orbit has not been done since the cancellation of the U.S. Apollo program in 1972. The only programs actively working to re-establish this capability are governmental in nature. However in 2005, Space Adventures announced its intention to work with Russian Spacecraft manufacturer Energia and the Russian Space Agency to offer a roughly one-week two-passenger flight around the Moon (no orbit, no landing) in a booster-equipped Soyuz craft for $100 million per person, as early as 2010. This depends on a customer making a hefty deposit to get the project running, so don't wait for them to announce a flight date to get your name in.
FUTURE SPACE TRAVEL
Boeing is all set to enter the Space tourism market with their own space capsule CST-100 which is currently under development and company plans to fly by 2015. Not surprisingly, Boeing has teamed up with the company responsible for taking all space tourists "Space Adventures". The space capsule of Boeing will offer Space tourism flights into low Earth Orbit. The capsule will have the ability to carry 7 people up to 62 miles above the Earth's surface. The company has not announced the price per ticket but it is expected to be $30-40 million per passenger.
British Airways also have plans to enter the Space tourism market but only after successful launch of Space Hotels by couple of companies.
SpaceX is another private space company developing their own rocket to enter Space tourism market. SpaceX is developing a capsule named Dragon which will take 7 tourists to a space station. Cost of their Space travel ride is yet to be announced.
ISRO Indian Space Agency has also announced sketchy plans of sending tourists into space however, they have not provided any details on when they'll be starting the project. So far, there is no Spacecraft prototype designed by the Space Agency. Some expert believe that Indian Space Agency (ISRO) can spice things up in the Space tourism industry by offering Space flights for tourists at less than $100,000
In a ambitious move Moscow-based Orbital Technologies plans to open Space Hotel by 2016 for Space tourists offering luxury stay. Space Hotel will have facility to accommodate 7 tourists at a time. The food of the space tourists will be prepared by the celebrity chefs on Earth which will be packed and send into space.
Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic has also expressed desire of opening a hotel in space during his lifetime. Although company not made any plans public so far.
Space Island Group has announced their ambitious plan "Space Island Project" in which they plan to have around 20,000 people on their Space Island by 2020.
Although physical fitness remains a concern, the main obstacle to reaching Space is the depth of your wallet. In increasing order of both cost and distance from the Earth:
On the Earth - There are quite a few space-related places on the Earth itself.
Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The rocket launch site of Sputnik 1 and Yuri Gagarin in Kazakhstan, and to this day the main Soyuz launch site. Long strictly off-limits, but now open to limited tourism.
Huntsville, Alabama, USA. Astronaut training facilities and International Space Station design and construction.
Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. The site of Space Shuttle launches.
Houston, Texas, USA. Mission Control for Space Shuttle and International Space Station activities.
Kourou, French Guiana. The launch site for ESA's Ariana satellites.
Mojave, California, USA. The first FAA-certified Spaceport and the home of Scaled Composites' private spaceflight program.
Star City, Russia. Cosmonaut training facility northeast of Moscow.
Tanegashima, Japan. Japan's main launch site. Free exhibits and tours, public viewpoints for launch days.