Travel You won't go to space any time soon, no matter what the billionaires say
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- This month, billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson went on suborbital space flights with their respective companies.
- The billionaires say they plan to make space tourism mainstream, but the trips came with hefty price tags.
- Space law experts say the prices aren't the only thing that will stop the average person from going on a space tour.
Billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson have drawn public attention to space tourism after they traveled to the edge of space this month, but it's unlikely the average person will get to visit space in the foreseeable future.
A Very Brief History of Billionaires Going to Space
The founder of Cirque du Soleil paid $35 million to go to the ISS—and then spent years trying to convince the Canadian government it was a business trip.During the 11-minute flight, the passenger capsule will detach from the rocket more than 60 miles above the Earth. Bezos and the others will experience a few minutes of weightlessness and then the capsule will parachute back to Earth.
It is likely that space tourism will be a hobby solely reserved for billionaires and centi-millionaires for many years to come.
Ticket prices for suborbital tours on Branson's Virgin Galactic are selling for aroundTo date, about to fly with the company to the edge of space.
While Bezos' Blue Origin has yet to release its ticket prices, the Amazon founder hasthat the tickets will be competitive with Branson's company. The first available ticket on Bezos' flight sold for $28 million at auction and the entire 10 minute trip on Tuesday out-of-pocket. The same day, the company said it had for future passengers to ride on the 4-person aircraft.
Space vacations will soon join our $9.2 trillion tourism economy. These companies are leading the industry.
Space tourism and orbital vacations will soon be an option for people with six figures to burn. These companies want to capitalize on it early.But that's just the terrestrial stuff. Some companies have recently begun to invest large amounts of time and money into what they think could be the next big thing in the already-massive tourism market: space.
Bezos said he plans to launch future flights at a "very high" rate going forward. "We need to get as good at running space tours as we are as a civilization at running commercial airliners," he said.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said thatthe cost of going to space, in particular visiting Mars (a trip that would using current technology), will one day be equivalent to the cost of buying a house.
But, the truth is current technology is too expensive for the average person to be able to afford a seat on one of Bezos, Branson or Musk's rockets. Though Bezos and Musk have been progressively working to make space travel more affordable through th, the industry is still in its beginning stages.
Video: Nelson on billionaires space race: ‘They’re spending their own money… doing incredible things’ (The Washington Post)
Biden Just Gave NASA the Green Light for a Cool New Moon Base
President Joe Biden’s plan to spend a couple trillion dollars on infrastructure here on Earth is still working its way through a fractious Congress. In the meantime the Biden administration is going all in on infrastructure in space. That is to say, space stations. In a rebuke of one of ex-president Donald Trump’s less popular space proposals, the Biden administration is working to extend the service life of the International Space Station. At the same time, the administration is clarifying plans for a new station that would orbit the moon.The twin initiatives couldn’t have come at a better time for proponents of a slowly emerging orbital economy.
Space law experts told Insider that even outside of the sheer cost of space tourism there are several hurdles the companies must overcome before space tourism can become a viable industry for everyday people. These include creating standard regulations akin to the policies that guard airplanes, as well as developing strategies to betterand from the flights.
People who ride with Blue Origin or Virgin Galactic "are not astronauts or passengers, legally speaking," the director of McGill's Institute of Air and Space Law,told Insider. "They are called spaceflight participants, which means they are essentially people participating in an experiment with a massive risk."
As it stands, individuals that currently purchase space tourism tickets must sign anreleasing companies from liability if the ticket-holders are injured or killed.
Spokespeople from Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic did not respond to a request for comment, but Jakhu and, a professor of Space Law at University of Nebraska-Lincoln told Insider the risk would likely deter the general public, even if the hefty price tag had not already narrowed the field of participants.
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What's more the flights themselves would also have to be more persuasive for tourists.
"Right now, these flights are just a sophisticated form of bungee jumping," Von der Dunk said.
On Tuesday, one of Blue Origin's flight participants,saying it was crowded.
"I thought I was going to see the world, but we weren't quite high enough,"
Branson's flight receivedafter the Virgin Galactic flight only went 85 kilometers high, slightly lower than Bezos' flight.
Streaming space tourism is the new reality TV .
You can’t afford space tourism. But you’ll be able to watch it on Netflix.The first two installments of the five-episode miniseries, Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space, will debut on the streaming platform September 6 and will be the closest Netflix has come yet to covering an event in “near-real time,” the company said on Tuesday. Over the course of September, a team of videographers will follow the civilian astronauts, including billionaire Jared Isaacman, who will be piloting the spacecraft, as they prepare for the journey and eventually launch into space.