There’s only one destination that’s actually out of this world. Space. Much like travel on earth, there is a somewhat baffling array of options and questions to be answered.
Do you get travel sick in a rocket? How do you pack for the moon? What are the bathrooms like on the International Space Station?
Space really does have it all. Postcard-perfect views. Saturn’s rings. Historical attractions like the Apollo 11 landing site. On Mars there’s a volcano three times higher than Everest and a canyon ten times larger than the Grand Canyon (Olympus Mons and Valles Marineris).
But where can you go? Who can go? How do you get there? How much does it cost? And what about the asteroids?
There’s an incredible level of hype about space travel right now. We’re breaking it down in this three-part guide to space travel. Later we’ll cover suborbital travel, like Virgin Galactic, and space travel, like on a SpaceX spacecraft.
Let’s start with the basics. What is space travel?
Where is Space?
Space is pretty big. So surely it’s everywhere? Well, no actually. The hype for space travel means you can go on a so-called space flight that doesn’t go anywhere near space.
Space starts where the Earth’s atmosphere ends, around 80 – 100 kilometres up in the sky.
To earn an official astronaut badge you need to reach at least 80 kilometres (50 miles). That’s the altitude of a Virgin Galactic flight (remember Richard Branson’s attention-grabbing mission in July last year).
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Others define space as the Karman line, the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space. That’s more like 100 kilometres (62 miles) above the earth. Blue Origin, the company founded by Jeff Bazos in 2000, flies this high.
You experience weightlessness at these dizzying heights, but it’s not high enough to orbit the earth. So it’s a “suborbital” flight. Unless your holiday budget is skywards of $50 million, a suborbital flight is your best chance of visiting space.
In next week’s article we’ll cover everything you need to know about suborbital space travel, with either Virgin Galactic or Blue Origin. And in the final article we’ll explore space travel, like going to the moon, Mars or beyond.
Who Can Go to Space?
Me = 0
Orange Juice = 1 pic.twitter.com/tW95DcjDTM
— Michael L-A (@CommanderMLA) April 12, 2022
71-year-old Larry Connor just paid $55 million for a holiday in space, at the International Space Station. He’s not an astronaut. Almost anyone can go to space, but the g force and weightlessness can be challenging.
You do need to be physically and mentally fit. But you don’t need to be superman or extremely fit.
No experience is needed. Suborbital space travel requires just three days of basic training. Travelling further into space takes 750 – 1000 hours of training.
Fake Space Tourism
Instead of actually going to space, you can just pretend and post it on Instagram. Launching in 2024, Space Perspective will carry passengers to an altitude of 30 kilometres (100,000 feet) on their pressurised “spaceship” Neptune. You can sip lavender cocktails on lounge chairs, in a novelty balloon ascending at just 20 kph. There’s even Wi-Fi on board.
A six-hour experience costs $125,000 and includes none of the authentic space experiences. Like the g force. Or weightlessness. Or erm, actually going into space.
Space Perspective created a lot of hype with their claim to take space travel to a new level. taking off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre adds credibility. They also claim it’s a journey to the edge of space. It’s not even halfway there. It’s fake space tourism.
Space Travel on Earth
Making it out of this world and travelling in space is not an option for your next holiday. 2026 is the earliest you can get on a suborbital space flight. So there are at least four years of holidays in between.
Before space travel the big new thing was exploring Antarctica. Cruises made the final continent accessible for more than just highly trained specialists. Another option is flying to Antarctica on a Gulfstream G550 and spending a week exploring an area that truly is unexplored.
That’s possible with White Desert, who operate two Antarctica camps and will also fly you to the South Pole. You can climb previously unclimbed mountains and go to places where nobody has ever gone before.
Space travel is about following a dream to explore a place beyond your imagination. And that’s something you can still do on planet earth.
Many travel ideas seem impossible. But they are easy and comfortable when you have specialists arranging the travel for you. So where do you want to explore?