Official definition: Space tourism is space travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes.
A number of startup companies have sprung up in recent years, such as Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace, hoping to create a sub-orbital space tourism industry. The one ahead presently in the race to be the first to operate is Richard Branson’s company Virgin Galactic.
The first space tourist to fund his own trip into space was Dennis Tito, an American engineer and multimillionaire in 2001. He spent nearly eight days in orbit as a crew member of ISS EP-1, a visiting mission to the International Space Station.
Recently on Feb 24th Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo aced its third unpowered free flight, a glide test that marked the first time at the new space plane’s controls for one former NASA astronaut.
Hot off the press yesterday was an announcement by SpaceX‘s founder Elon Musk, who stated that they will fly two private citizens on a trip around the moon in 2018 ! The private spaceflight company will use its Falcon Heavy rocket to send the two paying passengers into space aboard one of the company’s Dragon spacecraft. The two private citizens, who have not yet been named, approached SpaceX about taking a trip around the moon, and have “already paid a significant deposit” for the cost of the mission. The names of the two individuals will be announced later, pending the result of initial health tests to ensure their fitness for the mission.
In the 49 years since the Russian Yuri Gagarin made his pioneering flight into space 512 people from 38 countries have experienced space travel. Some predict that very soon a similar number of space tourists could be traveling in sub-orbital space every year ! This could be a very exciting new business sector to be in – in more ways than one, with the cost per individual ranging between $50 million to $250 million per trip !
Below is a short video link of Virgin Galactica’s 3rd powered flight – enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwm3leZu-O0
Hope you have a great month
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A little light relief
some more alternative exam answers … !