Space tourism spinoffs

Source:  The Business Standard

Relevance: Space tourism is gaining popularity in the field of Space.


The entry of the private sector into the space race brings new dimensions to the monetization of space technology.

Private space tourism projects:

Three important private organisations (Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, and SpaceX) made huge investments in space projects.

  • Recently VSS Unity spaceship, with six people on board, recently took off from New Mexico and reached an altitude of 85 km from Earth before returning.
  • Amazon founder’s space company named Blue Origin has recently concluded the online auction for the first seat on the New Shephard rocket system.
  • SpaceX even aims to go to Mars. SpaceX rockets already supply the International Space Station (ISS) and carry crew to and fro from that facility.
The future of space tourism:

Space tourism could soon be an option for the well-heeled adventure tourist. For instance, Virgin Galactic has received over 500 advance bookings at $250,000 per seat on the VSS Unity.

For comparison, people pay $50,000 to climb Everest in package tours, alongside trainers, and dedicated teams of Sherpa.

Preparation for space tourists:
  • Passengers must be cushioned and protected from high acceleration during the travel period and during the landing.
  • The cabin must be pressurized, and all furniture secured to handle weightlessness.
  • Insulation is required to protect the craft from heat generated by friction.
Advantages of Space tourism missions:
  • The materials used, and the design elements, could be incorporated in safety equipment in cars and bullet trains.
  • Another set of positive consequences may be the clean-up of space debris. The Space Registration Convention of 1976 and the recent Artemis Accords suggest clearing up space debris. The presence of high net-worth tourists will add a sense of urgency.
Challenges with the entry of private players:
  • Private entities tend to be focused on very specific technologies, which have visible payoffs within the foreseeable future.
    • Development in many areas ranging from modern communications, and geo-location systems, to renewable energy usage, weather prediction, etc. are the result of publicly-funded national space agencies that did not look for immediate payoffs.
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