4 Trips to Space
Why limit your travel options to this planet? Merritt Gurley explores the most promising spacelines for trips that take you out of this world.
Published on Mar 8, 2013
Price: US$15 million
Founded in 1998, this is the only company to have actually sent private citizens into space. So far seven would-be astronauts have rocketed to the International Space Station—not a huge number as the US$50-million price tag weeds out the crowds. To broaden the market, in 2008 the company launched a budget option for your run-of-the-millionaire at US$15 million. This trip includes a 90-minute space walk and five days at the space station. There are still three spots open for 2013, so start stashing away those extra millions in your journey-to-space jar. spaceadventures.com.
The Lynx is only for sub-orbital journeys. In fact, Space Adventures is the only company that achieves the orbital speed of 28,163 kilometers an hour, more than four times faster than the sub-orbital alternatives. But the view from the very edge of space is pretty cool in its own right. The Xcor two-seater vehicle can transport one pilot and one ticketed passenger on an hour-long, 100-kilometer flight from earth. The Lynx Mark I is the prototype vehicle in development, with the Lynx Mark II, designed to carry spaceflight tourists, operational by 2014. xcor.com.
The latest passion of Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin empire, this much-delayed space travel project is billed as the world’s first commercial spaceline. The ticket price sees you jet 15.2 kilometers above the Earth on SpaceShipTwo, which will carry six passengers and two pilots. The ship hurtles upward at a speed of almost 5,000 kilometers per hour during the two-hour flight, which will include several minutes of weightlessness. More than 550 people have already signed up for the experience, with commerical flights scheduled to launch next year. virgingalactic.com
Vehicle: New Shepard
Cloaked in mystery, Blue Origin is the brainchild of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. While the company has been coy about releasing the details of its space-travel development, the website assures enthusiasts that a “dramatically more affordable” sub-orbital space flight is in the works. The vehicle under construction for this mission is dubbed the New Shepard, which will be able shuttle more than three passengers (popular speculation says seven) and will be piloted by onboard computers rather than the more-common ground control. blueorigin.com.
Grab a sneak peak at zero-gravity conditions on a modified boeing 727-200 aircraft. each ride includes around six gravity-free minutes. gozerog.com; US$4,950.
Beer in Space
this 91-kilometer ascent, slated to launch next year, comes with an in-flight beverage of vostok space beer. beerinspace.com; US$95,000 for a space flight and, of course, beer.
a Japanese construction company has plans to build an elevator that rises 36,000 kilometers off the ground, to be completed by 2050. obayashi.co.jp.