Initially, when news articles about recreational space travel popped up, like Dennis Tito’s trip in 2001, you may have imagined sci-fi movies coming to life. While humans have been sending people (and animals) into space for decades, for many, the idea of going to space for fun seemed like something that would be generations away.
Now, space travel is beginning to change. As private companies become more interested in this new frontier, more people are making efforts to make space tourism a reality.
Here’s what you should know about the beginnings of space tourism and what you can expect from this emerging industry.
Three major competitors
Similar to how other nations joined the Space Race, several corporations are looking at space tourism as their next venture. Currently, the key players are Blue Origin, based in Kent, Washington; Virgin Galactic, based in Mojave, California; and SpaceX, headquartered in Hawthorne, California.
In 2021, all three competitors launched tourists into space as part of the beginnings of their plans for space tourism. Virgin Galactic took a group on a suborbital trip in July. About one week later, Blue Origin took tourists on a 10-minute journey above the atmosphere. Finally, SpaceX took a group to space for three days. SpaceX travelers experienced a full orbital trip.
The future of space tourism
After the first three companies took civilian crews to space, others started looking at the possibility of taking tourists to space. It seems like the next focus might be on privately-owned space stations.
Companies like Axiom and Nanoracks are interested in building private space stations, along with current space-tourism players like Blue Origin.
While terrifying for some, the concept of traveling to space remains intriguing for all. Space tourism will remain an exciting industry as it continues to develop.