TO INFINITY AND BEYOND – A GUIDE TO SPACE TRAVEL 2021
Forget travelling around the world; for those of you that are a little more ambitious, why not consider a trip into space, go to the Moon, or even visit Mars! Just bear in mind that it will cost a lot of money. A group of space-loving billionaires including Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Elon Musk have publicly pledged to take a trip into space. These space barons have taken it upon themselves to be the innovators of space travel. Some have partnered with NASA and many continue to crowdfund to make your wildest space adventures come true! Today, there are several companies that are introducing the concept of space travel. But what exactly does that mean and where in particular will the future of space travel take us? We’ve done all the research for you, so you don’t have to. Here are the top nine companies that are offering an extravagant trip to the stars and back!
1. Blue Origin
Number of passengers: Up to six people.
Experience: An 11-minute suborbital trip on the New Shepard spacecraft.
Blue Origin is the rocket company started by Jeffrey P. Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon. He’s been selling Amazon stock to pump billions of dollars into the company. So far, they’ve managed to launch and land its small New Shepard rocket and capsule safety before any passengers climb aboard. The New Shepard spacecraft is designed to take space tourists on a suborbital jaunt across the boundary, 62 miles above Earth. That’s regarded as the edge of outer space. The tourists would see the curvature of the planet and the blackness of space while experiencing a few minutes of floating at the top of the arc. However, they’re still planning several additional tests before launching passengers on the rocket.
The company is also working hard on their New Glenn rocket, a heavy-lift, reusable launch vehicle. It cost the company $2.5 billion into developing. Large in size, at a towering height of 95 metres, it will dwarf any other commercially available vehicle and it will be capable of delivering 45 metric tons, almost 100,000 pounds, into Low-Earth Orbit (LEO). It could eventually enable regular passenger trips into orbit and even beyond. Their goal is to one day have millions of people living and working in space.
For more information: https://www.blueorigin.com/new-shepa
2. Virgin Galactic
Where to: The edge of space.
Experience: Exposure to several minutes of high-quality microgravity per flight at 2,500-mile-per-hour.
Number of passengers: Six passengers and two pilots.
Price: A seat on the space plane could cost $250,000, but it’s subject to change!
Billionaire Richard Branson founded Virgin Galactic in 2004 on the promise that a privately developed spacecraft would make it possible for hundreds of people to become astronauts, with no NASA training required. Michael Colglazier, the recently installed CEO of Virgin Galactic has a goal to guide the company, as it grows, from an engineering project in the California desert into a multibillion-dollar space tourism business. Virgin Galactic’s space plane, known as SpaceShipTwo or VSS Unity, will be flown by two pilots, but it will not fly paying passengers until 2022. Once it gets a seal of approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, certifying SpaceShipTwo for commercial operation, Branson will be on the next flight.
The rocketplane drops from a specially engineered aircraft before boosting itself to 50 miles (80 kilometres) in altitude. High enough for Virgin Galactic’s pilots to earn their astronaut badges, but others define space via the so-called Kármán line, the generally accepted boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space that sits 62 miles (100 kilometres) above our planet’s surface. They’ve already got a long waiting list with more than 600 people on the list to fly on the VSS Unity. Virgin Galactic plans to raise its rates, though and they’re yet to release a final price. Serious future astronauts need to put a $1,000 deposit.
For more information: https://bit.ly/3hZxNqB
3. Zero 2 Infinity
Where to: The edge of space.
Experience: 2-hour float in space on a Bloon. Altitude 36 km or above 99.5% of the mass of the atmosphere.
Number of passengers: Up to six people: two pilots and four passengers.
Price: €110,000. Prices will rise once regular flights start in 2023.
Zero 2 Infinity is a Zero Emissions space transportation company founded by Jose Mariano Lopez Urdiales. The CEO was sparked by a lifetime exposure to rockets, balloons and space exploration projects. Zero 2 Infinity, founded in 2009, is one of the first NewSpace companies, which is part of a global industry of private and public companies, in continental Europe, with the mission to facilitate access to space for all. Z2I has developed unique lighter than air solutions that meet the challenges of the 21st century. They’ve performed more than 50 flights to the edge of space for a wide range of customers, from Airbus to Mattel. Z2I has patented solutions to enable low-cost access to space both for humanity and for small satellites. The team has more than 20 years of experience to assist customers with their unique mission requirements. From testing Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, to advertising consumer products to getting humans to experience what it’s like above 99.5 per cent of the atmosphere in a Bloon (a helium air balloon with a Bloon pod – a pressurised capsule capable of sustaining human life just like an airplane), this company has it all planned out! Get comfortably seated in a pleasant pod and prepare to fly up to an altitude of 36 km to enjoy a spectacular view of Earth.
For more information: http://www.zero2infinity.space/bloon/
4. Space Adventures
Where to: Fly around the International Space Station (ISS) – It’s mankind’s only permanently manned outpost. In Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), it circles the Earth every 90 minutes. When you reach Earth orbit, you will be traveling at 17,500 miles per hour, over 250 miles above the Earth’s surface and you’ll be weightless, floating inside your spacecraft.
Experience: 10-days around the International Space Station (ISS) on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft; go on a spacewalk from the ISS Russian Segment, together with a professional Russian cosmonaut. 5-days on Crew Dragon taking an elliptical path, reaching an altitude two to three times as high as the space station’s orbit.
Number of passengers: Three on the Russian Soyuz; four on Crew Dragon.
Price: Approximately between 20-25 million $ per seat on the Russian Soyuz; $55 million per seat on Crew Dragon.
Space Adventures was founded in 1998 by Eric C. Anderson, who also founded companies in aerospace, adventure travel, and entertainment. In partnership with Peter Diamandis (founder of the X Prize) and Mike McDowell (founder of Quark Expeditions), the three created Space Adventures in the late ’90s – the world’s first space tourism company. Space Adventures doesn’t actually operate its own rockets or space planes to launch customers to space. Instead, they contract seats. They act as a sort of broker for space tourists. Each customer must go through astronaut training which requires spending several months in Star City, Russia. They’ve made agreements with several companies including SpaceX to fly a Crew Dragon autonomously around the space station, with up to four tourists. The capsule and its passengers would take an elliptical path, reaching an altitude two to three times as high as the space station’s orbit. They’re also putting tourists on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft when Roscosmos (Russian Federation who’s responsible for space flights, cosmonautics programs, and aerospace research) is willing and able to sell an available seat. Space Adventures also have the rights to market seats on the American spacecraft Boeing Starliner to private individuals once operational flights to ISS begin. They are the only company, so far, to have actually put paying tourists into space. They’ve helped seven people visit ISS and countless others have near-space experiences. This includes zero-gravity flights and tours to see launches at Baikonur Cosmodrome, in southern Kazakhstan.
For more information: https://spaceadventures.com
Where to: An orbital trip to Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), to the Moon and Mars.
Experience: Get aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for an orbital trip to LOW-EARTH ORBIT (LEO) for up to five days; a trip around the Moon and to Mars onboard Starship – a 165-foot-tall (50 m) spacecraft and a giant first-stage booster known as Super Heavy.
Number of passengers: Up to four passengers on Crew Dragon. Unknown on Starship.
Funded and founded by billionaire Elon Musk, the private space company made history in the world of privately funded space travel with its Dragon Cargo and Crew Dragon spacecraft. In 2020, SpaceX launched two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station ISS aboard Crew Dragon, making SpaceX the first private spaceflight company to send a crewed spacecraft to space. Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken left Earth for the space station on May 30, 2020 and returned home on August 2, 2020. The company is likely to send more astronauts to orbit in 2021. Multiple companies are working with SpaceX to launch paying customers into space. They signed their first deal to launch space tourists into orbit on Crew Dragon with the U.S. space tourism company Space Adventures. Four passengers will be able to go on an orbital trip in the capsule and the mission could take up to five days. Expect this to happen at the end of 2021.
SpaceX are also working on a next generation of fully reusable launch vehicles that will be the most powerful ever built. They’ll be capable of carrying humans to Mars, the Moon and other destinations in the solar system. Starship (a 50-metre spacecraft) and Super Heavy (a giant first-stage booster) are the latest vehicles that will launch people as well as cargo into orbit. The first to sign up to the adventure is fashion innovator and art curator Yusaku Maezawa. He’ll be the first private passenger to fly around the Moon in 2023 as part of a week-long mission. It will help fund the development of Starship and Super Heavy. This is an important step in enabling access for everyday people who dream of flying to space. They also aim to send the first people to Mars in 2024.
For more information: https://www.spacex.com
6. Axiom Space
Where to: Flight to the first commercial International Space Station (ISS).
Experience: 10-days orbiting 250 miles above the Earth’s surface and traveling over 17,000 miles per hour. The Axiom Station is a commercial laboratory and residential infrastructure in space that will serve as a home to microgravity experiments, critical space-environment materials testing, and private and professional astronauts alike.
Number of passengers: Three space tourists with one company-trained astronaut on each flight.
Price: $55 million per person for a seat.
Led by co-founder and CEO Michael Suffredini, who served as NASA’s international space station program manager from 2005 to 2015, and co-founder and executive chairman Dr. Kam Ghaffarian who founded Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies, Inc., NASA’s second-largest engineering services contractor and the entity which trained NASA astronauts and operated the ISS. They signed a contract with SpaceX, Elon Musk’s rocket company, for what might be the first fully private human spaceflight to orbit. Starting from 2021, they are hosting private missions to the ISS on their spaceships and building the first commercial space station in our solar system starting in 2024. Orbiting 250 miles above the Earth’s surface and traveling over 17,000 miles per hour, the Axiom Station is a commercial laboratory and residential infrastructure in space that will serve as a home to microgravity experiments, critical space-environment materials testing, and private and professional astronauts alike. Philippe Starck the visionary designer and creator has designed the Axiom crew accommodations. With multi-directional freedom in mind, each egg-like structure symbolises nest-like comfort complete with unobstructed views of Earth. On the planned Axiom flight, one seat would be occupied by a company-trained astronaut who would serve as the flight commander. The other three seats will be for customers who are to spend 10-days in orbit floating inside the space station. The Axiom astronaut would also oversee the space tourists while they are on the station, making sure that they don’t interfere with the six crew members. Suffredini said that the space station has as much interior room as a Boeing 747 jetliner. The Axiom mission could be the first orbital flight with people aboard without the direct involvement of a governmental space agency.
For more information: https://www.axiomspace.com
7. Orion Span
Where to: To Aurora Station (A Space Hotel).
Experience: 12-day trip to Aurora Station. Fly at a height of 200 miles above the Earth’s surface in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO).
Number of passengers: The fully modular space station will host six people at a time, including two crew members.
Price: Starting at $9.5 million per person, a deposit of $80,000 is required for each traveller and can be placed by traditional payment methods as well as by cryptocurrency.
Veteran technology executive and serial entrepreneur Frank Bunger is CEO and founder at Orion Span, an innovative space tourism company designing a luxury space hotel. His goal is to make space accessible to all. Travellers will soar 200 miles above the Earth’s surface in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), where they will be able to enjoy the exhilaration of zero gravity. The travellers will be able to float freely through the hotel; gaze at the northern and southern aurora through multiple windows; soar over their hometowns; take part in research experiments such as growing food while in orbit, which they can take home with them as the ultimate souvenir; revel in a virtual reality experience on the holodeck, and stay in touch with their loved ones back on Earth via high-speed wireless internet access. The hotel will orbit Earth every 90-minutes – this means guests will see approximately 16 sunrises and sunsets every 24 hours. Aurora Station will be around 12 feet wide and 35 feet long, which is similar in size to a large private jet. It will have customisable private sleeping pods, top-quality space food and luxury design details. Guests will complete a three-month Orion Span Astronaut Certification (OSAC) program before take-off. In addition to luxury stays on Aurora Station, Orion Span is also planning to provide opportunities for space research and astronaut services. With the overall mission of building and sustaining human communities in space, they plan to offer fully chartered trips to space agencies and support zero gravity research and space manufacturing. What’s next, you ask? To launch the world’s first condominiums in space of course!
For more information: https://www.orionspan.com
8. Boeing CST-100 Starliner
Where to: To the International Space Station (ISS).
Experience: A trip to Low-Earth Orbit (LEO).
Number of passengers: Unknown.
Price: $90 million.
The Boeing CST-100 Starliner is a class of reusable crew capsules expected to transport crew to the International Space Station (ISS). It’s manufactured by Boeing for its participation in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. When NASA picked SpaceX to build transport for its astronauts, it also hired Boeing to do the same. During a test to orbit in December 2019 there were several errors that led to the catastrophe loss of Boeing’s Starliner capsule. To make up for that unsuccessful flight, Boeing will carry out a second test flight on its CST-100 Starliner commercial crew capsule in 2021. Both Boeing and SpaceX hold multibillion-dollar contracts with NASA to fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station. NASA wants both companies to provide regular crew transportation services to and from the space station, giving the space agency two independent U.S.-owned systems to deliver astronauts to Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) for the first time. Boeing’s is worth $4.2 billion while SpaceX is worth $2.6 billion. Space tourism company, Space Adventures, have the rights to market seats on the Boeing Starliner spacecraft to private individuals once operational flights to ISS begin.
For more information: https://www.boeing.com/space/starliner/
Where to: The edge of space and back.
Experience: Fly to the stars on just sunshine! You’ll be able to see the curvature of the planet on a solar-aviation adventure to the edge of space in over five hours.
Number of passengers: Two people on the plane.
SolarStratos is the first commercial two-seater solar plane in history, it will also be the first manned solar plane penetrating the stratosphere. After taking his solar boat around the world, Swiss eco-entrepreneur Raphaël Domjan decided to create the SolarStratos aircraft to venture into the stratosphere – powered by nothing but sunshine. A first in aviation history if it succeeds, but it faces huge challenges. Calin Gologan (Elektra-Solar GmbH – technical partner SolarStratos) is the designer. This tandem two-seater, with a wingspan of 24 metres and a weight of 450 kilos, will fly like any other aircraft. To reach 60,000 feet in an unpressurised aircraft, the solar plane and its pilot will be subjected to temperatures of – 70 degrees. According to the creator, the biggest challenges are charging the batteries, protection from the temperature, and the low atmospheric pressure. Energy will be stored in a lithium-ion battery pack and you’ll need to use a pressurised spacesuit for the flight. It will take two hours to reach the stratosphere, 15-minutes to float with the stars and then three hours to descend. It’s still a work in progress and so far, Domjan says, the engine is 90 per cent efficient. The maiden voyage will be taken by the founder in 2022, before the rest of us give it a try. The team wants to offer a unique travel experience for private passengers and scientists.
For more information: https://www.solarstratos.com/en/