YES-you heard that right. The International Space Station has announced that they will start allowing tourists to come onboard starting in 2020!! Hear that flat-earthers? This is your chance to answer your undying questions about the shape of our planet. Tourist astronauts will go through training just as all astronauts do prior liftoff, getting the body and senses ready for space travel. And what’s even more exciting is the price!! So you know how Virgin Galactic is estimating to charge around $250,000 for a sub-orbital flight? Well the ISS is charging $35,000! CAN SOMEONE SAY STEAL!? Well, for some it my be a steal, but for those of us that can’t hop on a spaceship for a quick 35k, we will jus have to wait a bit longer. Seeing how flights around the world used to be only for the very wealthy when commercial aircraft first became a thing, we likely will see a similar trend with spaceflight. Starts out expensive then becomes more accessible to the pubic.
Orbital tourism will hopefully begin sometime next year using launch vehicles by SpaceX and Bigelow Aerospace, where Robert Bigelow (founder) has promised a space hotel by 2021..where for about $52 million you can have a 2 month stay in orbit. Now this might sound cool and all if you had a living space similar to the stations in the show The Expanse or something like that, but the ISS is a bit more cramped. The ISS has a pressurized volume only that of a Boeing 747 aircraft–which is about 32,333 cubic feet. But guess what? Only a third of that is habitable and you’ll be sharing that space with about 10 people 24/7, including six government astronauts and four private astronauts.
Not sure if that sounds like luxury or like sharing a bunkbed with our annoying sibling. In fact, astronaut Peggy Whitson described it like camping..now I’ve never gone camping as I grew up in the concrete jungle of New York City, but this just sounds like the NYC subway, cramped, suffocating and claustrophobic.
But, with all of that being said I still know so many people that would take the voyage to the ISS if given the opportunity because it’s not about doing it as a vacation its about advancing humanity’s place in the cosmos. It’s about making space travel a common conversation and getting more people to have more of a cosmic perspective when it comes to life. Despite it being a tight space, I’d do it in a heartbeat because this space station will go down in history for not only all of the research that was done there but for being the very first space station that became open and accessible to the public. This is only the first step to a long journey for humanity in becoming a space-bearing species.