Near Space Resort: Holidays to the Final Frontier

15/09/2013 10:02

Source: Tourismembassy

Category: Space Tourism

Space and the Tourism Industry

The public sector is falling behind private investment and development for space tourism, enterprise and science.

With NASA cuts in spending for space exploration and research, and other investment priorities taking over in recent times, governmental space exploration and technological advancement paid by the taxpayer is no longer the key driving force for human progress in space. The early Apollo-era optimism that we would soon be colonizing the moon and beyond used to be widespread, but the financial reality of space travel over the ensuing decades made space seem that much further away and unreachable for the public.

The Growth of Private Space Enterprise

Late-stage testing of commercial suborbital space vehicles is bringing the edge of space to our door-step.

In the last decade however, the private space industry has expanded and diversified. Many companies are now developing and contracting various craft technologies capable of traveling to the boundaries of space (100km) for tourism and private enterprise, developed by companies like Virgin Galactic and facilitated by launch sites such as Spaceport America. Such short trips to the edge of space -where the customer can enjoy weightlessness and ethereal views for a predicted price tag of $200,000 – will very soon be a reality with late-stage flight testing currently underway for Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo.

The complete flight to space and back will take 2.5 hours, and involves the carrier-aircraft (WhiteKnightTwo) carrying SpaceShipTwo to a 50,000 feet altitude, after which the latter is deployed and launched to the boundary of space.

The Next-Step in Commercial Space Travel

How the Galactic Suite space vacation package works

Flying to the weightlessness of space for a limited number of minutes is one thing, but spending time in a commercial space station is a truly amazing idea, and companies like Galactic Suite are currently developing with this idea in mind, with the design and development of a full hotel-like space station as part of a complete holiday space adventure for the public.

The experience will begin with training, initiation and relaxation on a tropical island resort-style spaceport, and after this a specially designed spacecraft will launch from the island up to an altitude of 400km in Low Earth Orbit, where it will connect to a modular space station. The design of the station is being developed with Astrium (a leading European space company) to include Automated Transfer Vehicles, similar to the ones that make up the many modules of the International Space Station.

This space station will be 4 times higher than the height at which Virgin's commercial space flight package takes you to, and you will also be able to see the views, experience microgravity and enjoy a space-hotel experience for 4-6 days. This will be a truly unique experience free from political borders, embassy visas, delayed flights and suffocating cities.

Back Down to Earth

Early claims of Galactic Suite have proven to be optimistic – when can we expect it, and what else should we expect?

The Galactic Suite would obviously be an exhilarating and unforgettable experience, but many questions are already being raised - just how realistic is this venture, how soon can we expect it to be available, how much will it cost, and will it be safe?

When this space suite development was first delivered to the press in 2007, it was stated that this orbiting hotel would be available to the public by the end of 2012. Even in 2007 many saw this claim as optimistic, and now we are approaching the end of 2012, it is clear just how optimistic the claim was. The project is clearly a long way from realization, with much of the early-stage development still yet to be completed, basic hardware aspects of the project yet to be finalized and tested, and uncertainty over investor finance and funding. Galactic Suite have made no comment on this recently, but the project could easily continue for another 2-6 years before completion.

Whenever this huge step in tourism and development arrives, a predicted cost of $5 million will make this trip exclusive to the rich only, and it will be many more years before this most adventurous of trips will be accessible for the less wealthy. It seems accessible holidays in space are still a long way off.


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