If you weren’t able to realize your childhood dreams of becoming an astronaut, it’s time to dream again and shoot for the stars — literally. While missions to Mars and beyond are still reserved for the trained astronauts and rocket scientists, regular people will be able to purchase flights to space as soon as 2019.
Thanks to commercial space travel pioneers like SpaceX and Blue Origin, you may be able to check space travel off your bucket list. However, it will cost you — a lot.
Reuters recently reported that Blue Origin fares will likely be $200,000 to $300,000 per ticket for the first space trips. These prices come from anonymous inside sources, so they are not yet official. However, they likely are a good ballpark figure for anyone who is serious about traveling to outer space.
The next step is a manned test flight for Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle. “We plan to start flying our first test passengers soon,” Blue Origin Senior Vice President Rob Meyerson said in June at a Amazon Web Services Public Sector Summit. In July, the company successfully tested the New Shepard’s escape system from its West Texas-based launchpad.
The New Shepard, named for pioneering astronaut Alan Shepard, is 60 feet tall and fits six passengers. It is designed to fly into suborbital space, which is more than 62 miles above Earth and therefore will offer incredible views. It is high enough to experience weightlessness, as well as to see the curvature of the planet through large windows on the capsule. After that, the pressurized capsule returns to Earth with parachutes for a “soft landing.”
The Blue Origin capsule has minimal amenities. It won’t have bathrooms or barf bags. Passengers won’t need them, though, the whole trip from boarding to landing will be under an hour.
There are still potential risks for passengers. Space travel would expose passengers to space radiation, and scientists are still studying how it affects different people.
New Space Race
Sending manned missions into space is a significant step in reinvigorating space exploration. In fact, NASA has not launched a crewed mission since 2011 when they retired the space shuttle.
These commercial flights are only the beginning. Some experts predict hundreds, if not, thousands of competitors will enter the space exploration market. For now, the major players are Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. There is literally a whole galaxy of potential with plans for orbiting hotels and moon resorts also in the works.
That all sounds quite thrilling, but a $200,000 ticket is probably out of this world for most of us. Still, there’s another way to connect to space. As early as next year, the moon may get its very own 4G network which will enable the first live-streaming HD video. Until then, we’ll just keep our astronaut dreams alive staring up at the moon and the stars from the earth.