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How Space Tourism Will Work | Space Tourism Explained in detail

Since our primitive forebears first gazed up into the twinkling night sky, human beings have dreamt of what it might be like to move freely among the stars. To be fair we've already made great strides in that direction progressing in just a few short generations. From Rickety semi-powered flights to those famous dusty footprints left on the Moon and even robotic tire tracks on the surface of Mars but for a growing number of visionary scientists and engineers working today. These almighty leaps don't cut it anymore our greatest minds are engaged in a colossal struggle to slip the surly bonds of earth and realize our species destiny as a space-faring civilization.

space travel man chilling on moon

So today we ask the question, will space traveling ever be possible?

Right now the prospect of traveling into space seems fanciful but it wasn't always so. Let's cast our minds back to the middle of the last century and what we might call the classic space race. Vast global superpowers with apparently limitless resources poured unprecedented sums of money and manpower into the problem of escaping earth's gravity. In some ways this was all a giant exercise flexing industrial and technological muscle rather than some noble philosophical aspiration to dance among the starlight. The space race at that time can quite properly be characterized as a bitter clash between opposing ideological systems in the red corner the Soviet Union out to prove its socialist and theoretically egalitarian societal model was supreme.

The Soviets indeed scored a number of early victories not least Sputnik 1, the first ever artificial earth satellite which completed its first orbit around the earth on October the 4th 1957 not to mention the Soviet's historic accomplishment of putting the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961. However most agree it was ultimately the United States in the blue corner that snatched the historic bragging rights after landing Neil Armstrong on the Moon.

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The American space program enjoyed superior resources and technology and seemed set or so it appeared at the time to usher in a glorious new era of mankind expanding out into the galaxy as an interplanetary race. So what happened, well it turns out government pockets aren't bottomless after all. Once the race was run and the old enemy crashed, there was precious little incentive to keep throwing money at the problem especially after the cold war ended and the United States emerged for several years anyway as the world's undisputed hyperpower. But fast forward to the present day and a whole slew of contenders are jostling to put mankind back in our rightful place among the stars and these guys are doing it all with their own private cash sometimes referred to as the billionaire space races. This current competition involves players who are largely private individuals and strikingly household names. They've all acquired vast personal fortunes by playing the capitalist game and catering to a growing population's inexhaustible reservoirs of disposable income and that's why the space race is now characterized more by private joy rides into orbit and floating hotels than the ceremonial planting of 19th century flags on dusty and distant plains.

Let's have a look at some of the billionaire competitors in turn and examine their very different approaches to the challenges of space travel.

First the undisputed rock star of the field, Paypal founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

rocket going to moon space tourism

His company SpaceX was first established in 2002 with a lofty aim of colonizing planet Mars. SpaceX has long been a leader in the field of private space travel and has for several years been a regular and reliable partner to NASA in supplying the international space station with goods and as of May this year personnel Musk who has already established a private interplanetary shipyard in Boko Chica South Texas to develop his next generation of ultra ambitious so-called starships believes the future is in reusable craft. This would not only make space flight more sustainable but also cost effective. After all throwing away a giant rocket after a single use is not exactly the wisest business investment.

For a brilliant example of Musk' combined savvy as both businessman and engineer look no further than his Starlink satellite program designed to bring fast internet to previously unreachable parts of the globe. Not only is this approaching 1000 strong fleet a great leap forward in communications infrastructure that will accelerate prosperity and connectivity for millions of people but the projected revenue some 30 billion dollars a year by his estimates will comfortably pay for Musk's future Mars ventures. Talk about Blue Sky thinking, SpaceX's ultimate mission is to establish or at least lay the groundwork for a self-sustaining colony on Mars. Musk has rather chillingly insisted mankind should treat his goal as a priority and get it done before world war three because we could all do with a backup should some nasty unforeseen catastrophe befall humanity and set the clock back centuries or even millennia. His first cargo only missions to Mars are penciled in for 2024.

By contrast billionaire rival and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has a quite different and arguably grander vision of mankind's future among the celestial spheres. Blue Origin, his rocket company has also been making great strides in the new field of reusable rockets rather than being laser focused on Mars. However Bezos's short-term goals include the first ever privately run mission to the Moon and back, potentially as soon as the year 2024 and the first tentative moves into commercial low orbit space tourism. His new Shepard Capsule has attractive big windows and comfy seats and hopes to lift tourists into stratospheric raptures. If all goes well by the end of this decade aside from joyrides for the rich, Bezos's grand vision is nothing less than the liberation of humanity from itself after crunching the numbers on all our behalves Bezos has expressed worry that the number one problem facing humanity in the coming years is plainly unsimply that it will run out of energy.

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A regular human he explains uses 97 watts of power as part of regular day-to-day metabolic processes. But that's not the whole picture, humans in the developed world with all our technological bells and whistles burn through a remarkable 10500 watts per person every day and with a population likely to hit 9 billion in less than a generation, that's simply not sustainable. So we get to choose. Bezos warned recently “Do we want stasis and rationing? or do we want dynamism and growth?” his vision is that human beings should ultimately aspire to leave planet earth altogether and expand almost limitlessly into space instead of occupying those pokey geodesic domes. So fetishized by sci-fi novel illustrators, Bezos instead reckons the future will involve vast floating space stations as many as a trillion human beings could comfortably live and work forever in these artificial gravity utopias with as the Amazon chief puts it a thousand Mozarts or a thousand Einsteins emerging just as part of the natural order of things. His concept is said to be inspired by the late 60s and early 70s work of physicist Gerard O'Neill and represents a striking contrast to the planetary chauvinism of those who can't imagine colonies that aren't situated on some manner of terra firma. And in case anybody doubts how serious Bezos is, Let's remember this is not only the world's richest man but the richest man who ever lived! Adorably at his high school valedictory address, teenage Jeff Bezos apparently spoke passionately and no doubt geekily about his imagined future living beyond earth's atmosphere. Space the final frontier he told his classmates meet me there.

Another billionaire in the race albeit on a somewhat more modest scale is the UK's Richard Branson, his Virgin Galactic Project is aimed squarely at the potential low earth orbit. Tourism market which if not quite as ambitious as Musk's Martian Colonies or Bezos Colossal floating continents. At least promises a flight into space that could conceivably be within the reach of the common man and soon his space planes should be able to carry as many as 19 excited punters at three times the speed of sound using good old-fashioned Rolls-Royce engines.

Branson has stated publicly his belief that by the end of the current century, hundreds of thousands of people will have the chance to become astronauts. These modern-day magnates are realizing their respective visions as much out of boyhood passion as anything but their business instincts are also sound by 2030. It's been estimated, the global space market could be worth as much as 400 billion pounds which isn't to say it's only well-heeled captains of industry in the race.

Nasa is still very much an active player with a leading role in commissioning SpaceX and Blue Origin tech and coordinating latter day heirs to the classic Apollo Moon programmes. The new Artemis program named for the goddess Apollo's twin sister is scheduled to put the first woman on the Moon in the year 2024 and establish a space station in lunar orbit an invaluable asset to anybody planning to pause for a breather on their way into or out of our immediate celestial neighbourhood. Future space exploration won't just be astronaut based in terms of mechanical missions, the Parker Solar Probe will get as close as we've ever been to the Sun during 2025 maybe NASA's struggle to attract volunteers for that one. Telescopes are also expected to be a major player in the future of space exploration. NASA's James Webb space telescope will gaze into the far distance and far enough back in time to unlock the mysteries of the first ever galaxies that formed in the immediate aftermath of the big bang. Another important difference between the present space race and the classic 60s clash is that many more nation-states are looking for a piece of the action this time around. China is currently planning a manned mission to the Lunar south pole by 2030 and has already landed a robotic rover on the dark side of the moon. The People's Republic is also working on its own vast multi-module orbital space station.

space-explorer man taking selfie on moon

India is also in the game with its own Rovers and Lunar Landers in various stages of development. Not to mention a lesser known mission from the United Arab Emirates that's hoping to make it the first majority Muslim nation to get to Mars but what of interstellar travel fascinating as our own Solar System is wouldn't it be the ultimate dream to venture out into the galaxy and visit other systems.

The most feasible project currently working towards that end is the excitingly named Breakthrough Star Shot founded in 2016 by Israeli Russian venture capitalist Yuri Milner alongside late physicist Stephen Hawking and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Breakthrough Starshot plans to visit an intriguingly earth-night Exoplanet orbiting our nearest star Proxima Centauri traveling at around a fifth of the speed of light. The mission will take 30 years to reach its destination after that we can look forward to observational data arriving back to us on earth maybe four years after that. The fact is Proxima Centauri although pretty much our neighbor is still 4.37 light years away and for now sadly there's no getting around the fact that these things take time. The challenges in crossing such a golf 25 trillion miles give or take are formidable regular spacecrafts won't do because of the stubborn so-called rocket equation. This essentially states that the more mass you want to lift and the further you want to go the more fuel you need which in turn increases mass which in turn requires a bigger fuel tank and so on.

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Breakthrough Starshot's big innovation is to launch a fleet of up to a thousand tiny craft each with the mass of a paper clip and propel them into the void by directing a powerful laser at a vast so-called Solar Sail to which they're all tethered. The mile wide laser will be larger by some orders of magnitude than any such device ever constructed by man and of course the tiny craft would also need to somehow incorporate a camera, computer, power source, protective shell and antenna not to mention this as yet undersigned Solar Sail that would need to work reliably at literally unprecedented range not much room for spacious crew quarters. Still by 2036 it is hoped that the plan will be well on the way to launch.

So will manned missions ever leave the Solar System?

The technical challenges are only one side of the coin. Here the current record for the longest spell a human has ever spent in space belongs to Russian cosmonaut Valerie Polyakov who spent 437 days aboard the mere orbital station and later reported unstable moves as the long lonely days dragged on. Research has shown that low gravity environments are detrimental to orientation balance, bone density and the cardiovascular system. Dehydration can cause kidney problems and degenerative central nervous system conditions lead to scary cognitive issues and behavioural abnormalities. Previous experiments such as the famous Biosphere 2 project in the mid-90s suggests that human groups left in isolation often splinter into bitter factions. Not a situation you'd fancy being in a Billion miles from the nearest pub garden.

So the challenges of human space travel are formidable from a financial, technological and physiological point of view but remember not so long ago it was widely believed that intercity train travel wasn't feasible because the human body couldn't tolerate speeds of over 50 miles per hour. Who knows which among our present assumptions about space will look as daft as that in the decades and centuries ahead. So let's all adopt Jeff Bezos's attitude and agree we'll all meet up again out there someday!

Hope you guys liked this informative post and if you did liked it, do consider sharing it with your friends who might be your future co passenger in your next space trip.

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