Have you ever fantasized about traveling into outer space, or even landing on the moon? While this used to be a far-fetched concept for the average American, over the next few years space travel may actually become more within reach thanks to advances in ongoing research and technology advances in the aerospace field.
The Space Tourism Field
There are currently five private citizens who have journeyed all of the way into outer space as of March of 2008. A sixth person is slated to join the list in the fall. All of the participants to date are billionaires and millionaires, which is a prerequisite at this point to take such a flight if you aren’t a professional astronaut, since the current costs are, in fact, currently “astronomical”. But a larger number of people (at least a few hundred or more so far) have gone up to 80,000 feet, which is just on the edge of the earth’s atmosphere. From this height, passengers can see both the darkness of where space begins and the earth’s curve.
A Rapidly Advancing Field
The last time a man walked on the moon was 25 years ago, but someday in the not-too-distant future, this may be an experience others can share. At least that’s the goal for several private companies, who are racing to move the stakes, and the flights, higher. They are raising money and coming up with spaceship designs that will, hopefully, make space travel accessible for many more people around the world. There are even plans to someday have hotels and resorts in outer space, and for this to become a popular tourist destination in future decades.
Helping to spur on the technological advances in the aerospace industry is a contest sponsored by Google that is offering a $30 million prize for the first group that sends a spacecraft back to the moon. The idea behind this competition is to prove that more accessible and lower-cost space travel can be made possible through private, non-governmental groups.
Meanwhile, there are several companies competing to use the latest technological advances and research to their advantage in making outer space a feasible destination for people from all walks of life. One of the leaders in this area is called Space Adventures, which is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia and basically serves as a space travel agency. Space Adventures not only helps arrange the specifics but also has been successful in launching a variety of space programs itself to date, including taking private explorers to the outer limits, creating zero-gravity flights and achieving high altitude experiences. In addition, the company offers a suborbital journey that allows passengers to experience weightlessness 62 miles above the earth. This zero gravity state lasts for just a few minutes, but the unique experience will forever remain with its participants.