Have you ever wanted to travel in space? Do you dream about seeing the Earth as a blue sphere from high above the planet? Well, you may one day get your chance. It may sound incredible, but in the past, you had to become an astronaut in order to have the chance to blast off of the planet. This requires a vast knowledge of science and physics, years of rigorous training, and a very selective process to narrow down the candidates. Not everyone who sets out on the path to become an astronaut succeeds, no matter how much they want it. There will soon be a new way to travel to space, without all of the experience and training that was required in the past - space tourism. Space tourism is space travel for regular human beings who are not professional astronauts. You won't need any science qualifications to become a tourist in space, and it is just not a futuristic science fiction vision anymore. In fact, space travel has started happening already. Seven people, from the co-founder of famous circus show Cirque du Soleil, Guy Guy Laliberté, to video game pioneer Richard Garriott, have gone travelling in space a combined eight times already. Several countries are already working to develop their space tourism programs, and the day when we will all be able to fly in space may be closer than you think.
The current status of space travel
Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, and Blue Origin are private companies that are already in existence with the purpose of taking paying customers into space. Tourism is the leading purpose of these new space flights. Even though the projects are already a reality, this option is not yet fully accessible as it costs around $20 million. In addition, the travellers have to go through training for months, and some of them had experiments they wanted to perform in space.
Many projects are underway right now to help ordinary people travel in space. The Space Island Group and the Mars One Project are examples of those projects.
What do the spacecraft look like?
There is some variation in the space tourism aircraft. WhiteKnightTwo is a winged spacecraft that can transport up to eight people at a time. SpaceX and Blue Origin look like standard rockets. They take off and land vertically.
How can you go to space as a tourist?
The first criteria is that you have to be physically fit to be able to travel in space. You also are in need of a heavy bank account. Then, you can go through training.
What will it feel like to travel in space?
The mandatory requirement to be physically fit is mentioned because space travel is very taxing on the human body. There is a tendency to feel nauseous and dizzy during the first 24 hours. Your body is slowly adjusting to a different environment, where gravity is not grounding you. Travellers will be floating and their bodies will be trying to adjust to the unfamiliar atmosphere. The feeling of disorientation is common, but your body will quickly adjust.
Nowadays there are fitness tests and training that the private companies put you through to prepare your body to travel in space and also to adjust back to life on earth.