The voyage into space once seemed like something out of a science fiction novel. Luckily, it’s now becoming a reality, and is approaching at lightning speeds. With many private space firms evolving rapidly, and at a staggering pace, our future involving the final frontier is heading towards that of a booming industry in space tourism. By turning the idea of space travel away from primarily government based missions, and towards independent and private companies, we are enabling a broader audience to be reached and impacted.
The first achievement of its kind, in Private Spaceflight, took place when Space Adventures arranged the flight of Dennis Tito to the International Space Station in 2001. Dennis became the first private citizen to pay their own way into space, and with it coined the term Space Tourist. Dennis has since been followed by no less than six other private citizens who have completed seven private missions to space.
A next great achievement took place in May this year when SpaceX’s Dragon debuted its abilities, and became the first privately developed spacecraft ever to dock with the International Space Station, and later return to Earth. Causing a great stir, the competition in Private Spaceflight has been rising quickly, as the pressure continues to intensify.
SpaceX is joined by Boeing (partnered with Space Adventures), Sierra Nevada, and Blue Origin in the race to commercial service to Earth orbit, while Virgin Galactic, XCOR and Armadillo Aerospace (partnered with Space Adventures) are racing to take fare paying passengers on brief trips into suborbital space. All of these companies, and more, are showing great promise in the future of space tourism. By continuing to encourage friendly rivalry, we not only push ourselves closer to our goal, but also help each other as a whole in conquering our shared dreams. By continuing to progress, we can hope that someday the majority of people can participate in Space Exploration. One day, in the not too distant future, planning a trip to the Final Frontier will be looked at as casually as planning a trip to the Bahamas.