Space Tourism companies aim to organize trips to space for their private clients. Even though the idea of private space travel may still sound futuristic, there are successful cases of sending private individuals to space between 2001 and 2009. American company Space adventures has arranged eight space trips to the ISS for seven private individuals. However, those space flights were still performed by Russian Space Agency, a space corporations. The private company arranged, but did not operate the flight.
The current challenge in the sphere is to make space trips significantly cheaper to make them more accessible to public. To achieve that, private companies develop their own spacecraft to become independent from the state companies. Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, Blue Origin, Boeing are the main companies developing spacecraft for space travels.
Commercial Human Spaceflights
in the Space Tourism
The first orbital space tourist to pay his own way was Dennis Tito. In 2001 he flied aboard Russia's Soyuz spaceship to the space station, despite the numerous pushback from and objections by NASA leadership and astronauts.
In 2021 a private company may charter a private spaceship, fill it up with private passengers, and fly it to orbit in the hands of a private astronaut. The expedition is poised to be the first of its kind, and the gravity of that responsibility is not lost upon its commander, Michael López-Alegría, a retired NASA astronaut.
Setting the Bar for Commercial Human Spaceflight
The whole enterprise of commercial spaceflight depends upon the result of this mission. Despite NASA's historic objections to flying space tourists, the agency has recently warmed up to the idea. In 2019, it announced private citizens could stay on US modules at a cost of about $35,000 per night. A year later, NASA began funding efforts to help build private replacements for the space station, which will be deorbited around 2030. By López-Alegría, people at NASA started realizing that the ISS was a finite resource, and that in order to have a successor, we needed to start sowing the seeds of an economy in low-Earth orbit.
Challenges and Opportunities
López-Alegría believes that human spaceflight is possible for a vast majority of the population. People just have to be open-minded and willing to learn. At the same time, they need to be remarkably strict, punctual, and prepared. The crew must therefore train about four months ahead of launch, though that will likely extend given frequent slips in rocket-launch scheduling.
Space Tourism: Leaders
Comparison of 12 Space Tourism Companies by Development Stage and Destination
The Biggest Recent Failures in Space Industry
Space exploration is associated with risks and solving unexpected problems. It causes numerous failures, both technical and commercial. The explosion of SpaceX Crew Dragon on the launchpad in 2019 proves that even leading players face major difficulties. In the worst cases, result in human losses as during the crash of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo in 2014 killing the pilot.
The high failure chance also makes space exploration a risky enterprise. A Dutch group Mars One managed to convince a bunch of investors to pour tens of millions of dollars into a plan to send the first humans to Mars and have them establish a colony but declared bankruptcy in 2019. Some space mining companies mentioned in this report, like Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources, had to reconsider their daring plans and to concentrate on the other issues.
However, there is also a trend associated with the growing importance of private companies in space industries. Private companies are more sensitive to the risks and losses than government programs and so tend to avoid risks more carefully.