Space Tourism

Space tourism refers mainly to the visitation of locations outside earth. Unlike other kinds of tourism, this kind of tourism is relatively still a dream for many. Space travel itself has been around for more than 40 years since man first attempted space flights and then landed on the moon.

Its technology is radically different from any other type of tourism-related technology – maybe because it’s a relatively new frontier just as when the airplane emerged – hence, it remains within the purview of government and a few agencies.

Space exploration is motivated by man’s quest to understand and harness the limitless resources of space. Governments have generally dominated space activities mainly for military, scientific and communication purposes.this article¬†

Experts with many years of studying and practicing are the only recognized voice when it comes to space issues. For the past thirty years, ordinary people have watched to see when space will be opened up to the public to investigate just as any tourist investigates its destination unimpeded.

This is the birth of space tourism. Space tourism itself is not an easy venture to manage since the broad requirements for such a tourism venture involve technology and conditions vastly different from earth conditions.

Fundamentals of Space Tourism

Space tourism is an exciting venture gaining fast publicity and huge unsatisfied demand. Before this excitement can be realized, the fundamentals of space travel must be sorted.

These fundamentals include:

-Finance – payment for services

-Training – familiarity with space conditions, transportation systems and possible activities applicable to tourist

-Transportation – launch sites, space vehicles

-Accommodation – Docking stations e.g. international space station

Finance is currently a big factor in space tourism quite outside the reach of ordinary citizens who would be willing to travel to space. The first private citizen to travel to space for a week stay in the international space station (ISS) – Dennis Tito – paid a whooping US$20 million to get aboard the Russian Soyuz.

Since then, a few individuals have joined him. However, according to Virgin Galactic – one of the enterprising companies offering commercial space travel – the cost of traveling to space currently (as at 2011) stands at US$200,000 with a US$20,000 deposit. If you intend to stay for a week, the budget might as well skyrocket into the millions of dollars.

The US$200,000 might not be a huge amount compared to the millions of dollars fare paid by the pioneer space tourists but is still out of reach for most people.

Moreover, training is an important part of space tourism. The Russian Federal Space Agency provides up to six months training before a space tourist is finally approved for a space tour. This is part of the huge financial cost including physical test and fitness inspections, familiarization with the powerful G-forces during take-off and landing, zero gravity simulations and lots more.

Furthermore, transportation to space follows after successful completion of the training. Launch sites and reliable spacecrafts must be in place to provide space tours when required. So far, the Russian Soyuz has been the only space vehicle to convey space tourists to the international space station (ISS) and back but this vehicle was not specifically designed as a space tourism vehicle.

Many space tour agencies are lobbying the Russians to build a custom space tourism spacecraft to enable more space tourist visit the International space station (which is approximately 200 mile above earth) and beyond or perhaps help drive the tour cost down. This is a work in progress for everyone and every space loving organization and government. Cheap, reliable and safe transportation to space is the single most problematic part of the space tourism equation.

Additionally, accommodation issues must be sorted and it presents exciting possibilities in space. Currently, accommodation remains the International space station. However, the ISS was not designed for this purpose.

Therefore, the request for space hotels for tourist is the clamor and sure enough, there are answers. Bigelow Aerospace is gearing up for an independent mini space station of space tourists complete with its complex for the whole space tour. Hilton hotels is also voicing out its interest. With accommodation in space, is there any limitation for other businesses? The imagination of man holds the answer.

Furthermore, space tourism destinations can be either sub-orbital or orbital travels. Sub-orbital space travel includes traveling some kilometers outside earth but not into the orbit of another body such as another planet or moon.

On the other hand, orbital travels involve more than sub-orbital travels. This travel includes entering the orbits of other bodies in space or even other galaxies. Man has a lot of experience with sub-orbital travels for decades and this is what will be exploited in preparation for the private citizens’ space tourism industry.

Many governments including Malaysia are either increasing awareness or beginning to develop these fundamentals to prepare for the exciting future of space tourism.

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