About a few years ago, space tourism was a concept straight out of sci-fi movies. At present, however, space tourism is talked about as the next big thing for the uber-wealthy traveller. As per reports from Axiom Space, a Houston-based startup owned by a former manager of the NASA-run section of the International Space Station (ISS), two of the three golden tickets for the 10-day tour to the ISS in 2021 are still available for sale. It will cost you a whopping USD 55 million to purchase one of these golden tickets. One of the tickets have already been purchased by an unknown entity for Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket in 2021.
This will be the first privately run human spaceflight. The trip is scheduled for the second half of 2021, and is made possible because of the collaboration between SpaceX and Axiom Space. This was reported by the New York Times.
Axiom Space had announced its collaboration with SpaceX’s Dragon modules. These modules are currently under testing to take NASA astronauts to low earth orbit stations in a few months. Excluding the travel time to and from the ISS, the space tourists will be spending about 8 days and 8 nights at the space station. This is after the SpaceX Crew Dragon module is attached.
Before departing for space, all passengers will have to undergo a mandatory 15 week long training programme on Earth to help them prepare for what they will face in space. Accompanying the space tourists on the voyage will be a trained astronaut sent by Axiom Space, who will also be acting as the flight commander.
Apart from SpaceX and Axiom Space, Virgin Galactic, which is run by Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin are also working on similar space adventures. However, their tours are much smaller in scale, lasting anywhere between 11 to 90 minutes and stopping just before they reach the Karman Line (the point where space begins) which is approximately 100 kilometers from the Earth’s surface. Travel dates for these tours have not been confirmed.
Axiom Space is not the only suitable option for SpaceX’s Crew Dragon module. Another privately run space venture called Space Adventures also announced their partnership with SpaceX in February for a free-flying trip for upto 4 space tourists with a duration of 5 days. However, this trip is likely to take place in late 2021 or early 2022.
What makes this a very ambitious space tour is the fact that it is a trip to the International Space Station which is orbiting 350 kilometers above the Earth’s surface at a whopping speed of 28,000 kilometers per hour. This means that it is able to take an entire revolution around the Earth in just 90 minutes!