What's the Latest Development?
Unthinkable just a decade ago, the BBC has assembled a compendium of travel options for the space tourist of the near future. Perhaps the most well-known venture is Virgin Galactic, scheduled to launch in 2013. After a few days training, amateur astronauts will be carried to over 60 miles above the Earth's surface and experience five to six minutes of weightlessness. Price tag: $200,000. Space Expedition Corporation has an alternate vision which literally puts you in the cockpit. Sitting next to the pilot of the company's two-seat plane, you will be carried to a similar height before experiencing 4Gs as you reenter the atmosphere. Price tag: $95,000.
What's the Big Idea?
To date, only seven tourists have flown in space, but that number is set to climb drastically over the next decade. For now, the space tourism industry will seek to sell tickets to the incredibly wealthy. But as technology matures, prices will drop. Perhaps the most ambitious space tourism company is Excalibur Almaz, which aims to launch the first private space station and carry tourists further into space than professional astronauts have gone. It offers a six to eight month trip beyond Earth's orbit to a Lagrange point, the positions in space where gravitational forces balance out, and then a loop back around the Moon. Price tag: $150 million.
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