Calling all intrepid explorers - start scavenging through the sofa cushions for loose change - your astronaut dreams could be closer to becoming a reality than you think (if you've got the $$$).
Since 2001, only seven private citizens have made the journey into space, and for a hefty price (we're talking in the multi-millions). Now, numerous companies around the world are working toward bringing more private citizens closer to interstellar travel.
In June, Virgin Galactic and NASA inked a deal that calls for the creation of an astronaut readiness training program to identify individuals who are interested in purchasing private missions to the ISS. On the commercial side, Florida-based Space Perspective announced plans to fly passengers to the edge of space on the Spaceship Neptune - a pressurized capsule suspended from a blimp with amenities, such as a beverage bar and social media connection (because what bigger flex is there than a space-selfie?)
Not ones to be left behind in the space-race, Russian space corporation Roscosmos has plans to send two private citizens to the ISS in 2021 and 2023, allowing one of them to spacewalk (but how do they choose who goes?) As space tourism becomes less science-fiction and more real-world, other companies are getting ahead of the game by envisioning the space hotels of the future. The Gateway Foundation has plans to build a space “cruise ship” by 2027, with capabilities to cater to over 1000 passengers. The Gateway will have features such as a gymnasium, Japanese garden, food court, casino and concert venue - and of course sound-proof hotel rooms. Their first step toward this dream is constructing The Von Braun Station, which will cater to both research teams and tourists alike.
Orion Span’s Aurora Station promises “the real astronaut experience”, offering a 12-day space holiday. Guests aren’t just sitting back and sipping space mai-tais, they’re expected to work as the crew and operate the station. They can also volunteer to take part in a variety of experiments on board. Passengers would be required to undergo three months of training prior to their mission and once aboard would be launched into Low Earth Orbit, orbiting our planet once every 90m (that's a lot of sunrises/sunsets!)
Where do we sign up?!
Dig deeper: 'Luxury Space Hotel' to Launch in 2021 Virgin Galactic stock rallies after company strikes NASA space-tourism deal Space hotels race to offer tourists a room in the sky Image by Will H McMahan Companies doing cool space-stuff: Axiom Space Bigelow Aerospace Orion Span The Gateway Space Perspective Virgin Galactic