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What is Space Tourism?

Space tourism is human space travel for recreational purposes. There are several different types of space tourism, including orbital, suborbital and lunar space tourism. To date, orbital space tourism has been performed only by the Russian Space Agency. Work also continues towards developing suborbital space tourism vehicles. This is being done by aerospace companies like Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic. In addition, SpaceX (an aerospace manufacturer) announced in 2018 that they are planning on sending space tourists, including Yusaku Maezawa, on a free-return trajectory around the Moon on the Starship.

There are several options for space tourists. For example, Crouch et al. (2009) investigate the choice behaviour between four types of space tourism: high altitude jet fighter flights, atmospheric zero-gravity flights, short-duration suborbital flights, and longer duration orbital trips into space. Reddy et al. (2012) find the following motivational factors behind space tourism (in order of importance): vision of earth from space, weightlessness, high speed experience, unusual experience, and scientific contribution.

During the period from 2001 to 2009, 7 space tourists made 8 space flights aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft brokered by Space Adventures to the International Space Station. The publicized price was in the range of US$20–25 million per trip. Some space tourists have signed contracts with third parties to conduct certain research activities while in orbit. By 2007, space tourism was thought to be one of the earliest markets that would emerge for commercial spaceflight. Space Adventures is the only company that has sent paying passengers to space. In conjunction with the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation and Rocket and Space Corporation Energia, Space Adventures facilitated the flights for all of the world’s first private space explorers. The first three participants paid in excess of $20 million (USD) each for their 10-day visit to the ISS.

Russia halted orbital space tourism in 2010 due to the increase in the International Space Station crew size, using the seats for expedition crews that would previously have been sold to paying spaceflight participants. Orbital tourist flights were set to resume in 2015 but the one planned was postponed indefinitely and none have occurred since 2009.

On June 7, 2019, NASA announced that starting in 2020, the organization aims to start allowing private astronauts to go on the International Space Station, with the use of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft for public astronauts, which is planned to be priced at 35,000 USD per day for one astronaut (not including the cost to get there).

Read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_tourism

Virgin Orbit Successfully Completes Test Flight Before its First Launch

virgin orbit flight to spaceThe runway is now clear for Virgin Orbit’s first-ever launch. Virgin Orbit is a dedicated launch service for satellites with a mission to launch satellites into space in great numbers at low cost.

On Sunday (April 12), the company completed the final test of its development program, sending its carrier plane, Cosmic Girl, aloft over the Southern California desert with an orbital rocket beneath its wing.

The captive-carry trial was “a complete, end-to-end launch rehearsal that exercises all of our ground operations; our mission control; all of our communications systems and protocols; all of our range assets; and our carrier aircraft’s takeoff, flyout, pull-up maneuver and return-to-base operations,” Virgin Orbit representatives wrote in a blog post Friday (April 10) that described the test.

Virgin Orbit has conducted captive-carry flights before, but the company filled the 70-foot-long (21 meters) LauncherOne rocket’s propellant tanks with water on those jaunts. On Sunday, the tanks contained cryogenic liquid nitrogen, a substance much more akin to the liquid oxygen they’ll hold during operational flights.

Sunday’s flight capped a successful development campaign that has also included a drop test last year, in which Cosmic Girl released a rocket that fell passively to Earth. So Virgin Orbit is now ready to take the next big step: a test launch. But it’s not clear at the moment when that mission will get off the ground.

Like Virgin Galactic, Orbit employs an air-launch strategy: During operational flights, Cosmic Girl will drop LauncherOne at an altitude of about 35,000 feet (10,700 m), and the rocket will then make its own way to space. The company will specialize in launching relatively small satellites; LauncherOne is capable of delivering about 1,100 lbs. (500 kilograms) to a variety of destinations in low Earth orbit, company representatives have said.