The emergence of tourism in Space

8 mins read

With space tourism now a reality, will civilians travel to space, and when? Last June, billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson each took a suborbital flight in their respective supersonic rockets, launching a new era of space travel, where a ticket to space is available to anyone who can afford it.
It’s been a momentous month for space-faring billionaires. On July 11, British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson’s Unity “rocket-plane” flew him and five fellow passengers about 85 kilometers above Earth. And this week, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ New Shepard capsule reached an altitude of 106km, carrying Bezos, his brother, and the oldest and youngest people ever to reach such a height. Passengers on both flights experienced several minutes of weightlessness and took in breathtaking views of our beautiful and fragile Earth.
Both flights created an avalanche of media coverage and brand recognition for Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Bezos’s Blue Origin. There is renewed anticipation of a lucrative commercial space tourism industry that could eventually see thousands of paying passengers journey into space.
This year marks 60 years since Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Since then, almost 600 trained astronauts have gone into outer space, but very few people have become space tourists. The first, US engineer Dennis Tito, paid a reported US$20 million to spend six days orbiting Earth in the Russian section of the International Space Station in April 2001, after three months’ training at Russia’s Star City complex. He was followed by a handful of other very wealthy “orbital tourists”, most recently Cirque de Soleil founder Guy Laliberté in 2009, whose ticket reportedly cost US$35 million.
On July 20, the anniversary of the moon landing, Jeff Bezos is setting off on his very own quick trip into space, eight days after Richard Branson and a few months before Elon Musk. This band of billionaires is supposed to be just the beginning of the space tourism. Branson’s company, Virgin Galactic, has already sold 600 trips to the edge of space at a cost of $250,000, according to reports.
From a journalistic perspective, one could leave it at the level of the newsworthy, report on the progress of private space travel and log rocket launches in ever shorter succession: The birth of an all-inclusive tourism of a different kind. Or one could set genre-specific accents. The tabloids could write about three rich boys, their childhood dreams and Star Trek fantasies.
Dieter Schnaas, Chief reporter and author at the German business magazine “WirtschaftsWoche” stressed that finer newspapers’ feature pages could darkly recall the fate of Icarus and measure the fine line between cockiness and foolhardiness. Or they could tell a story of aviation’s decline, from the heroic explorations of the Lilienthals, Gagarins and Armstrongs to the ready-made adventures of the “Bezos” and “Bransons” – with a view from the panorama window.
According to Dieter Schnaas, Business editors, for their part, could retell the history of the transatlantic flight. Their narr