Space Tourism – Traversing the Unknown

Written by:  Aaron Wong Jielun (21-I4), Elizabeth Khoo Yuk Min (21-U1), Katelyn Joshy (21-U1), Murugan Rakshita (21-E1), Tiew Zuo Yuan Richard (21-I2)

Designed By: Ashley Lay (21-O1)


Crossing the Final Frontier 

Having crossed the vast continents (with attractive travel packages) and fared the deep oceans (on luxurious cruise ships), humanity has already explored most of our globe (with guided tours!). Outer space, the place that lies beyond the bounds of our skies, has now become the final frontier; for the tourism industry, that is.

Ever since mankind has gazed up at the stars, we have always pondered one simple question: will we ever get to venture out there? As the space tourism industry takes shape in the future, perhaps we will be starting to ask several additional questions, namely: How much does a seat on a space shuttle cost? Is the food good? Are the accommodations comfortable? And how on (correction: off) earth does using the bathroom work out there, anyways?

What is Space Tourism? 

Much of the hype around space tourism revolves around the desire to explore beyond the concepts that we have already mapped. In other words, educating ourselves of the unknown has always been one of humanity’s pursuits, and efforts in exploring the cosmos has seen immeasurable progress. 

Today, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s Space foundation works with many educational institutions to spark the space curiosity in potential future space leaders. The more we learn about space, the more it appeals to us, and the probability for a human livelihood outside of the only planet that can sustain life causes us to put on our thinking caps to attain precisely those aspirations. Additionally, this pursuit of space tourism inadvertently benefits us as we brainstorm sustainable ways to make it happen. For instance, consider the ambitious quest of SpaceX—to build a colony on mars— to achieve it, the company has created the Falcon9, an eco-friendly rocket. 

Instead of ending up as waste in the sea after its space venture, it would be retrievable from designated landing sites and relaunched within a day. Falcon9’s rockets are fuelled by liquid oxygen and methane, which are cheaper and cleaner alternatives to conventional fuel. The use of methane and oxygen complements the colonisation project as carbon dioxide in mars’ atmosphere and frozen water on its surface can be used to generate methane for its return trips to earth. In a way, we realise that the advent of space tourism allows us to seek new horizons for metacognition.

Hall of Fame – Space Tourist Edition 

Leonardo DiCaprio, Actor 

The iconic Academy Award winning actor, best known for his lead role in 1997’s  Titanic boarded Richard Brandon’s Virgin Galactic space rocket with a round trip ticket back in 2013.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

Jeff Bezos is no stranger to the global E-commerce arena, helming arguably one of the most influential businesses globally. He happens to also be the founder of Blue Origin, an American aerospace company- one of the up and coming contenders in the space tourism industry. So, it’s no surprise how he landed his trip to the final frontier!  

Dennis Tito, Engineer 

We’ve saved the best for last! Introducing… the first space tourist! Tito was the first person to traverse space for leisure purposes and all at his own expense. He spent nearly eight days in orbit as a crew member of ISS EP-1, a visiting mission to the International Space Station all the way back in 2001!

The Space Tourist’s Travel Guide  

Hello there! Welcome to ‘Uncharted Exploration’, your one-stop destination to get all the latest space travel deals! It is my company’s pleasure to serve such an honorable customer. Now, let me show you all the travel packages available: 

  1. Virgin Galactic’s 90-Minute Suborbital Ride

Destination: The edge of the Earth’s atmosphere 

Costs: USD$250,000 per person 

Set to launch: Late 2020

  1. NASA’s Multi-Day ISS Gateway

Destination: The International Space Station

Costs: USD$35,000 per night

Set to launch: Late 2020

  1. SpaceX’s ‘Back to the Moon’ Package

Destination: The Moon

Costs: roughly USD$150 million per seat

Set to launch: 2023

Preparations and expectations

1. Ensure physical and mental fitness

As the human body will undergo a range of forgein experiences in entering space, it is very important to keep your body in optimal condition prior to launch. This means you must be healthy: void of any and all serious health conditions. You should exercise regularly to keep your muscles strong as spending extended periods in microgravity will lead to muscle inactivity, debilitating your muscles. You must also attune your mind to possible challenges you will face in space like dealing with space adaptation syndrome (motion sickness), which tends to be an issue for longer trips. 

Thus, depending on the length and nature of your trip, you’ll accordingly undergo the necessary training so that in case things go awry, you’ll be prepared. This includes undergoing resistance training, numerous safety briefings and practising movement in zero gravity capsules.

2. The likely levels of G-force to be experienced 

G-forces are the sensations of weight we feel during acceleration as a result of movement against gravity. Let’s just say, what’s portrayed in the movies, where astronauts get crushed into their seats after exposure to high G-forces is far from reality! Given that you have passed the medical test to take this trip, you should be able to withstand the G-forces experienced on launch and on re-entry back to Earth. 

3. How to get used to the feeling of weightlessness

A good practise is to try scuba diving as it helps you get ready for all the ‘floating’ you’re about to do in space by getting you familiar with the sensation of being weightless. However, a better alternative would be taking a zero-G flight as it more accurately simulates the zero gravity environment of a spacecraft. 

Where to stay? 

Looking for comfortable accommodation? Well, look no further! We have exciting news on lodgings in space: 

The Voyager Station- The world’s first luxury space hotel

You heard that right! Earth’s very first official space lodging will be up and ready soon. This monumental achievement is the brainchild of the California-based company, Gateway Foundation and in the midst of being created by the Orbital Assembly Corporation. The Voyager Station is set to be completed by 2027 and will accommodate up to 280 guests and 112 crew members upon its opening! Curious about what this magnificent creation within its walls? Well, let’s take a peek, shall we? 

The Suites 

Engineers behind the project aim to make the luxury suites similar to those found in traditional hotels back on Earth, so you won’t be missing out on anything!

The Common Dining Hall

Enjoy a scrumptious meal as you gaze out into space! Let your eyes feast on the vast inky blackness of our cosmos, characterized by its swirls of purple, blue, pink, and dotted with millions of tiny stars. The Voyager Station will truly afford you a view like no other!

That’s not all! The Voyager also houses restaurants, a cinema, a spa, a library, a concert hall, bars and a sports hall. Are you getting déjà vu? I know I am! This soon to be futuristic reality seems to have been taken straight out of the plot of the widely acclaimed Science Fiction movie, Passengers!

Recent Developments in Space Tourism 

In the capitalistic moils of the world buds a new market: the space tourism market. It is no wonder that companies like SpaceX, Virgin Atlantic and Blue Origin are seizing this lucrative business venture in order to cash in on the growing demand for space tourism, a projected market value of 3 billion USD by 2031. This ardent dash towards being the first to provide a fully commercialised air travel experience is not unexpected. Seeing how quickly air travel took off amongst the masses, companies looking for their next business opportunity can only assume the same for space travel.

Additionally, Elon Musk has hatched ambitious plans to materialise low-earth orbital travel. These planks have crystallised with four, first-ever civilians being sent on a three-day trip around the world. Whilst the feasibility of mass commercialisation is still under question, this has no doubt proven to be a remarkable feat for mankind and Elon Musk’s billionaire competitors.

Conclusion 

In many ways, the growth of space tourism and the development of space travel are closely intertwined: if space tourism becomes a lucrative field, our progress in space travel may very well accelerate.

When our forefathers pondered man’s place among the stars, they probably never expected it to be on a commercial space flight of recreational nature, admiring the otherworldly scenery out of a viewport. But indeed, that seems to possibly be what space tourism can bring to the near future, even if such an experience is reserved only for those of significant capital for now. Perhaps there will eventually come a time when a seat on a space shuttle is much cheaper, and maybe even comparable to a seat on a commercial plane of today. Until that fateful day comes, we can all marvel at the field’s current breakthroughs, and also keep our fingers crossed on a potential, future galactic getaway…

Bibliography

  1. Keeter, B. (2020, September 2). Long-term challenges to human space exploration. NASA. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://www.nasa.gov/centers/hq/library/find/bibliographies/Long-Term_Challenges_to_Human_Space_Exploration. 
  1. Editors, P. M. (2021, November 2). Read this before you go to space. Popular Mechanics. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://www.popularmechanics.com/space/solar-system/a26454631/how-to-go-to-space/.   
  1. Mafi, N. (2021, March 5). The world’s first space hotel to open in 2027. Architectural Digest. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/worlds-first-space-hotel-open-2027. 
  1. Stefanie Waldek Updated August 31, 2021. (n.d.). 13 things space tourists should know before traveling to space, according to astronauts. Travel + Leisure. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/space-astronomy/what-space-tourists-should-know-before-traveling-to-space-according-to-astronauts. 
  1. Hospitality On. (2021, March 11). Voyager station: The first hotel in space could be ready by 2027. Hospitality ON. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://hospitality-on.com/en/innovation/voyager-station-first-hotel-space-could-be-ready-2027. 
  1. Street, F. (2021, March 4). World’s first Space Hotel scheduled to open in 2027. CNN. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/voyager-station-space-hotel-scn/index.html.  
  2. Cao, S. (2020, July 18). Every space tourism vacation you can book right now, if you’re rich. Observer. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://observer.com/2020/07/space-tourism-package-comparison-virgin-galactic-spacex-blue-origin-nasa/.

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