Space tourism is space travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. There are several different types of space tourism, including orbital, suborbital and lunar space tourism. To date, orbital space tourism has been performed only by the Russian Space Agency (Wikipedia, 2018). To become a space tourist, first, you need to look for different companies that will even offer such a trip; it is not just about finding a trip convenient to your schedule, it is also about affording such a trip. The companies involved won’t reveal how much a flight will cost, but it’s thought to be in the tens of millions of dollars. The price will expect to drop in the future if the space tourist flights become a regular, more advanced, and successful venture.
There are several popular space companies zeroing in on the first launch of tourists into orbit and beyond, by the end of this year, 2018. SpaceX is one of the most well-funded private spaceflight programs at the moment with a proven launch success record. Their flagship spacecraft for manned-missions – the Dragon – is scheduled for a first private flight as early as late 2018, when it will take two tourists (whose identities are undisclosed as of now) on a round-trip flight to the Moon. According to estimates by NASA, a round-trip mission to the ISS costs anywhere from $80 million and up. In fact, upper estimates for Musk’s mission reach up to $178 million – putting it within the reach of only a very small sub-section of society. Virgin Galactic is the company’s primary vehicle that recently conducted a successful test flight earlier this year. Tickets on the SpaceShipTwo are priced at around $250,000. Another company is Space Adventures. This is the only agency ever to have facilitated private spaceflight banks on proven Russian technology to take tourists to the ISS. During the 1980s and 1990s, Space Adventures conducted a record seven spaceflights to the ISS – letting tourists piggyback on official missions to send cosmonauts to the ISS. Dates are decided upon based on demand and availability. A future circumlunar mission is also in the pipeline with two available seats of which one has already been booked. Dates for the lunar mission haven’t been announced yet. While each of the ISS tours cost anywhere over $20 million, Space Adventures has revealed that one of the two seats on the circumlunar mission has already been booked for a price of $150 million. The last one that was mentioned is Blue Origin. The pet project of tech-mogul and (briefly) the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin has revealed it hopes to take its first customers to space sometime in 2018. However, the company has kept prices of the spaceflight tightly under wraps. These companies will have different costs depending on what they have included with your seat and packages.
Once your flight is scheduled, you are required to pass some real physical tests and must undergo a medical examination to see how fit and healthy you are before being sent into space. Tamela Maciel from the National Space Centre in Leicester also said, “What’s exciting is that anyone can go, as long as they’re physically fit” (Cite Source here). You need to be well trained for several days up to a few weeks before the tests are given to make sure you can handle the stressful condition of space flight. According to the article “Amazing Space: 8 tests to pass before you go into space”, they also have showed us some test examples including: swimming three laps of a 25m pool without stopping, then swimming three laps in the pool in a full flight suit and tennis shoes (no time limit); treading water non-stop for 10 minutes in a flight suit; and being exposed to “microgravity”, which leads to weightlessness 20 seconds a time up to 40 times in a day. All space tourists who want to take flight to the ISS in a Soyuz taxi mission must also go through a thorough medical exam before taking off. Being able to see things clearly is demanded by NASA and each astronaut’s eyesight “must be correctable” to have perfect 20/20 vision in each eye. You also need a very specific blood pressure level: below 140/90 while sitting. In addition, having the right height is also a requirement to be able to board onto the ship. Each of the space tourists will be confined to a very tight space on board and being too tall will cause complications in maneuverability in the spacecraft. You need to be between 160 cm (5’3″) and 185 cm (6’1″) in height and between 50 kg (110 lbs) and 95kg (209 lbs) in weight. Also, people meeting those above qualifications and who are between 10 to 90 years old with diverse backgrounds, are able to speak more than two languages, and have practiced within a huge range of professions, can also be accepted as space tourists; the only thing they may have in common is a desire to go to space. Smoking or excess alcohol and caffeine should also be avoided.
Other than passing a physical exam, space tourists need to have a basic understanding of astrodynamics or the motion of objects in space such as what is an orbit, gravity, escape velocity, and microgravity, etc. You will also learn how to cook meals, where items are stored, how to deal with garbage, and conduct experiments. On the other hand, not everyone can be a space tourist especially if they have physical impairments or disabilities that may prevent them from safely evacuating a space station or ejecting from an aircraft. People who suffer with serious heart problems or coronary artery disease also cannot be part of a trip. Additionally, people that have major diseases affecting their organs and severe vertigo or claustrophobia also cannot be space tourists.