Written by: Jason Garoutte
Privatized space travel or space tourism has become the new frontier in adventure and exploration, especially since NASA’s space program isn’t quite what it used to be. It is expected to become a billion dollar industry within the next decade, even though the cost of one of these adventures is as high as 40 million dollars.
So, what kind of adventure can you expect with that kind of money? Depending on the company, that kind of money will earn you an eight to eleven day trip to the International Space Station. Sounds great right? Sure, the view is one in a million, but if I’m going to spend 40 million dollars, I’d better be sipping Mai Tai’s on one of Saturn’s rings!
That will not happen. Not in my lifetime, especially not a journalist’s salary. For those that are ultra-wealthy, a trip to the heavens may just be the ultimate adventure. But would it be worth it?
Only one spacecraft has ever traveled to the outer planets and it is unmanned. The Voyager 1 spacecraft, which was launched in 1977, is still traveling the outer limits of our solar system to this day. It is traveling at a speed of 3.6 Astronomical Units per year. An Astronomical Unit is defined as 92, 955, 807 miles or roughly the distance the Earth is from the Sun. Once the numbers are crunched, Voyager 1 is traveling at a staggering speed of 38, 179 m.p.h. Wow!
Companies like Space Adventures only have aircraft designed to travel up to speeds of Mach 3, which equates to approximately 2,250 m.p.h. So, should you want those Mai Tai’s with Saturn as your backdrop, it would take 50 years just to get there. And you thought the flight from Los Angeles to New York was long!
There is a bit of hope, should you just want to brag about traveling into space. These privatized companies are offering suborbital flights at only $200,000 per passenger. With that you will receive a two hour flight above the Kàrmàn Line, which is defined as the boundary of space at an altitude of 62 miles above Earth’s sea level. You will also experience three to six minutes of weightlessness and that one in a million view of our blue planet. Just don’t forget your camera.
If that sounds like an appealing adventure, then by all means, spend that hard earned money, travel to the heavens, and return with some amazing vacation photos. For those of us with meager salaries and average jobs, the closest we’ll probably ever get to the planets is through the lens of our backyard telescope.