|| Tech || Culture || Activities || Resources || Links || Weblogs || Features ||
Site Info




Space Tourism
Personal Spaceflight for you ...


In April of 2001, Dennis Tito became the first traveler to pay for a trip to space with money out of his own pocket. He decided to do it and then just did it. That's what tourism is all about. Since then six other "personal spaceflight participants" have traveled to the ISS. The trips were arranged by the company Space Adventures.

Market Studies by NASA and many other organizations have shown that there are sizable markets for space tourism, both suborbital and orbital, and that the markets will grow rapidly as the cost of sending a person into space drops from current levels.

Adventure tourism, such as trips to Antarctica or Mount Everest, has long been a profitable business. This can involve packages with prices as high as $100k range and even higher.

Though you commonly hear talk of "space joyrides for the rich", the development of space tourism will follow the normal course of development seen for most all consumer technologies and services.

Tourism itself began as something only done by the very rich. Passenger flights on airlines were initially very expensive. VCRs, DVDs, PCs, etc. all started out as very expensive "toys". Eventually competition and economies of scale (i.e. mass production) take over and prices drop to the level the middle class can handle

Incredible Adventures
Experience microgravity on a commercial parabolic flight.

Before orbital rides are widely available, suborbital flights will be the most common way to ride into space. There are several companies currently planning suborbital space vehicles for tourism and other applications. The typical plan is to got to around 100km where one can see the horizon out to 1000km or so and clearly see the curvature of the earth and the starry blackness of space.

In October of 2004, Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne won the X PRIZE and thereby started a new race to develop the first vehicle that will provide suborbital space rides to paying customers. Suborbital generally refers to an up-and-down ( i.e. mostly vertical) flight that reaches an altitude of around 100km or more but does not go into orbit around the earth.

The billionaire Richard Branson in September 2004 announced a contract with Burt Rutan that gave him funding to design and build a passenger vehicle referred to as SpaceShipTwo (SS2). The goal for the SS2 was to fly safely and routinely above 100km for a cost of $250k per seat. The SS2 carries 6 passengers and 2 pilots.

The initial goal of Virgin Galactic was to begin commercial flights well before 2010. However, development problems, particularly with the propulsion system, led to many postponements. Commercial flights were finally expected to start in 2015 but an accident in Oct. 2014 destroyed the SpaceShipTwo and killed the copilot. The accident was caused by a combination of pilot error and a poor design of the controls of the return system.

Richard Branson, with the support from the 700+ people who have put deposits down for flights, decided to continue with the program. The newly built SpaceShipTwo Unity vehicle was rolled out in January 2016. It is to begin unpowered test flghts in 2016 and powered flights in 2017. If all goes well, commercial flights would start in 2018.

Meanwhile, Blue Origin, the company founded by Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com fame, has continued step-by-step development of vertical takeoff and landing reusable rockets. As of July 2016, the New Shepard rocket vehicle has flown four times to over 100 km. The vehicle is a combination of a booster and crew capsule.

After the engine shuts down, the New Shepard capsule separates and a crew of up to 6 people will experience about 4 minutes of weightlessness as the capsule passes over the apogee of the flight. It will then enter the atmosphere and land by parachute. Meanwhile, the booster does a powered vertical landing. The first crewed flights are set for 2017. If all goes well with the test program, commercial flights with passengers will start in 2018. The ticket prices are expected to be initially in the $250k range.

You can also train for spaceflight by experiencing microgravity in Russian plane flying parabolic trajectories. The company ZERO-G also offering such rides in the US for $5000 per person. The first 20 flights were already sold out before they began regular service. ZERO-G offers flights out of Las Vegas, Kennedy Space Center and other locales.

If you can't pay for an orbital trip, perhaps you can win a ride. There are usually several contests going on at any particular time that offer the opportunity for the winner to go into space.

Space Island
A commercial space habitat prototype built
by Bigelow Aerospace.

When orbital flights become lower in price, there are companies designing space hotels where you can enjoy microgravity sports and astonishing views of earth. The company Bigelow Aerospace has launched two prototypes of its inflatable space habitat. Another module called BEAM was attached to the International Space Station in 2016. The company currently hopes to launch a BA-330 module (330 cubic meters volume) to the ISS in the 2020 and later in the 2020s create a free-flyer station comprized of two or more BA-330s. SpaceX and Boeing would provide commercial transport to the station. See Opportunities and Pricing - Bigelow Aerospace (Spring 2013).

See this slide presentation by Sam Coniglio at the Space Tourism Society for a nice overview of the possibilities for future space tourism.

If you would like to travel in space in spirit only, then send a token of yourself, e.g. your name or DNA sample, on a space probe.

The company Space Adventures and other companies offer rides on high performance jets such as the MIG-25, which can go to 25km in altitude.

See also the section on Astronomy Tourism that involves trips to see eclipses, Aurora and other astronomical phenomena.

Books on Space Tourism:

The Space Tourism Menu
Lunar tourism: Deep Space Expedition from Space Adventures and the Lunar and L2 Exploration Missions from Excalibur Almaz each involve sending two people around the Moon (ala Apollo 8) on modified Russian spacecraft for ticket prices in the $100M range.

Orbital Tourism: Seven tourists so far have ridden Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station for one week stays and more are waiting to go at a ticket price in the $30M range. (One person, Charles Simony, has flown twice.) Bigelow Aerospace is building a new generation of space habitats based on light-weight, high-volume inflatable designs. They are intended to serve as both scientific stations and space tourist destinations within the next decade.

Suborbital tourism: At least two companies are expected to begin selling rides in the 2013-2014 time frame on spaceships that will fly the X PRIZE style trajectory to 100 km or higher. This will provide around 5 minutes of weightlessness, a view of the curvature of the earth and a dark star-filled sky. Ticket prices are in the $100k to $200k range.
High altitude jet flights - Ride a MIG 25 to 36 km. Ticket price is $24k.
Weightlessness on aircraft flying parabolic trajectories. Weightless periods last 25 - 30 seconds. Tickets in the US are currently ~$5000 range.
Spaceflight Training programs: Prepare for suborbital and orbital spaceflights via training programs that use centrifuges and other systems to simulate a mission to space.

News & Articles of Interest

See the archive for previous articles

Other Space Tourism News Sites and Upcoming Events

Space Flights
Taking Reservations Now...

Dennis Tito signals a successful flight.

Dennis Tito became earth's first space tourist. His ride to the space station was arranged by Space Adventures, described below. Space Adventures and several other companies are also offering reservations on future sub-orbital flights and also on MIGs and aircraft flying parabolic trajectories to provide periods of microgravity.

Blue Origin
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, created Blue Origin in the year 2000 and the company has slowly but methodically moved forward towards reusable rocket vehicles for human spaceflight. In November of 2015, an unmanned New Shepard vehicle flew to above 100 km. As of July 2016, the same vehicle has flown to space three more times.

The vehicle consists of a vertical takeoff and landing reusable rocket booster and a crew capsule with large windows that can carry up to 6 people. When the engine shuts off, the crew capsule separates from the booster and returns for a parachute landing. At apogee there are about 4 minutes of weightlessness.

Tests will continue into 2017 when the first Blue Origin employees will ride the New Shepard. If all goes well, commercial flights will begin in 2018. Tickets are expected to start out in the $250k range.

Here is a video of a flight in June 2016. As a test, the capsule only deployed two parachutes instead of the standard three.:


Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson contracted with Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites company in 2004 to develop a vehicle called the SpaceShipTwo based on the SpaceShipOne technology. It will carry at least six passengers and two pilots to more than 100km latitude. The initial goal was to begin test flights in 2008 and passenger operations in 2009 but various technical problems caused repeated delays. The first power test flights began 2013. Commercial flights were to start in 2015 but an accident in Oct. 2014 destroyed the SpaceShipTwo and killed the copilot. The accident was caused by a combination of pilot error and a poor design of the controls of the feather return system.

Richard Branson decided to continue with the program and the newly built SpaceShipTwo Unity vehicle was rolled out in January 2016. It is to begin unpowered test flghts later in 2016 and powered flights in 2017. If all goes well, commercial flights would start in 2018.

The SpaceShipTwo is built by The SpaceShip Company, a wholely owned subsidiary of VG. Scaled Composites is no longer involved in the vehicle construction.

The initial ticket price was $200k but was increased to $250k in 2013.


The above Video shows a the SpaceShipTwo
on its third powered flight test on January 10, 2014

As of February 2014, the company has collected around 700 people signed up for flights.

Space Adventures, Inc. 
Space Adventures is a full service space tourism agency. It offers everything from Space Shuttle launch tours to Soyuz flights to the Space Station. The company helped arrange Dennis Tito's flight to the ISS as well as the subsequent private visitors to the ISS. See below for information on the "spaceflight participants" who have gone to the ISS with the help of Space Adventures.

The company also offers a back-up cosmonaut experience in which one can train alongside the person who

SA has several former astronauts on its advisory board, including Buzz Aldrin. SA will arrange for you to take a MIG ride to 25km in altitude or experience micro-gravity in a Russian plane flying parabolic trajectories.

It also offers reservations on sub-orbital flights when they become available in a few years. The pricing is around $100k. Space Adventures has said in the past that about 100 people have either placed deposits of a few thousand dollars or paid the full amount.

Since 2005, the company has marketed plan with the Russian space agency for a Soyuz system to fly two passengers around the Moon for $100M a seat. More info here:


XCOR Aerospace
XCOR Aerospace is developing the Lynx rocketships for flights to over 100km. The vehicle holds a pilot and one passgner and test flights were to begin in 2016 but the company suspended development of the Lynx to focus on near term money making projects. The Lynx Mark Iwas to be the initial prototype and it would go to 60km. The Mark II version would be the production vehicle that goes to 100 km.


XCOR partners with Space Expedition Corp. (SpaceXC) Lynx suborbital spaceplane when it
begins to fly passengers in the 2014-2015 time frame. The price for a flight is 0around$95,000.

Incredible Adventures
Incredible Adventures offers several space related experiences in addition to safaris and stock car racing. Like Space Adventures, they will eventually offer suborbital rices but in the meantime, they offer Mig-25 flights to 27 kms in altitude and Zero-gravity parabolic flights in Russia. Also, at Star City in Moscow you can undergo Cosmonaut training. An added option is training in the Hydrolab water tank that simulates EVAs.
Russian Space Adventure Services
US firms like Space Adventures and Incredible Adventures mentioned above have long offered access to Russian space-based services like parabolic flights and rides on high altitude MIG jets. Now there are are several Russian firms who offer such services directly

Lunar Tourism
The Deep Space Expedition from Space Adventures and the Lunar Express Mission from Constellations Services each involve sending two people around the Moon (ala Apollo 8) on modified Soyuz spacecraft. Ticket prices would be in the $100M range.

More Travel Agencies with Space Related Adventure Tourist Packages


Anousheh Ansari became the fourth person to pay for a flight to the ISS.
The above clip is from a documentary about her flight :
Space Tourists | A Film by Christian Frei

Also referred to as space tourists, citizen explorers, and public spaceflight participants, I like to use astourists and astournauts for space travelers who pay for a trip to space with their own money rather than with government funds.

We include here miscellaneous articles about individual astounauts and civilian astronauts / cosmonauts who are either publicly announced candidates for orbital flights or have actually gone to orbit. (I don't include the couple of politicians who flew on the shuttle since they were government employees and didn't use their own or private money.)

The Soyuz transport to the ISS requires considerable training in Russia: Going to Space? First Stop: Eight Months of Grueling Training in Russia's Star City - Wired - Aug.2008

Note that in this section the focus is on orbital spaceflight, particularly trips to the Moon. Suborbital spaceflight is discussed below.

See the above News headlines and the tourism news archive for links to many older articles about the ISS visitors and other space tourism related topics.

Suborbital Space Tourism

View from 100km above Mojave
The view from 100km above Mojave California as displayed by Google Earth.
See also the view above Oklahoma at 100km.

The view from 100km via Google Earth - RLV and Space Transport News - Apr.27.06

With the cost to orbit expected to remain extremely high for many years, the next best option is to take a brief trip into space on a suborbital resuable rocket vehicle.

Now that Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne has won the $10 million X Prize contest, the race is on to become the first company to provide routine flights to altitudes above 100km for space thrill seekers.

Though such rides would be relatively short, 15-30 minutes for the rocket powered segment and the unpowered ascent and reentry, riders would nevertheless enjoy one of the most amazing and thrilling experiences of their lives.

They would experience a few minutes of weightlessness, look down on a clear view of the curvature of the earth, and see bright stars in a black canopy above. One would also get the accelerating thrill of riding a rocket .

The question obviously arises as to how many people would pay for such a ride, especially if the cost is $100k to $200k. Surveys, in fact, shows considerable interest among a sample of wealthy people. For more info, see the Space Tourism Markets section.

Places to buy tickets/place deposits for future suborbital spaceflights:

The following table shows a list of suborbital space tourism companies that say they have full funding to build and fly their suborbital space tourism vehicles by 2008 and who issue regular progress reports on development of their vehicles:

Company Vehicle # Crew + Passengers First Flights
Armadillo Aerospace - SOST (Sub-Orbital Space Transport) VT, VL 2 2012
Blue Origin - New Shepard VT, VL 3 or more 2012
Mojave Aerospace Ventures - (Scaled Composites + Virgin Galactic) - WhiteknightTwo/ SpaceShipTwo Air launch + glide landing 2+6 2012
Starchaser - Thunderstar VT + Capsule parafoil landing 3 2012

XCOR - Lynx

HTHL 1+1 2012
VT - vertical takeoff. VL - vertical landing
HT - horizontal takeoff, HL - Horizontal landing.
More Resources

Space Tourism Contests & Promotions

Suborbital spaceflight contests
After the success of the SpaceShipOne and the subsequent promise by Virgin Galactic and other companies to create a space tourism industry, companies around the world began to sponsor promotional contests in which a suborbital spaceflight was the grand prize. Here are some of the current and completed contests and promotional programs.

A video about the Space Needle/Space Race 2012 contest.

Space Games
The following types of programs are not one-time sweepsakes but will be permanent concerns that repeatedly reward winners of their online skill games with spaceflights and other space related prizes:

More Contests, Games, & Promotions
Some of these programs have folded or become inactive but are still interesting from an historical perspective in regards to how space tourism developed during this period.


Orbital TV/Webcast Space Games
There have been several announcements over the past few years for TV contests in which the winner would go to Mir or, after Mir died, to the International Space Station.

These usually followed some sort of Survivor style reality show competition format in which several contestants would compete for the seat on a Soyuz.

So far, these programs have not made it to the screen and seem to be defunct. Some are said to still be in development but no hard info is available.

Here is a list of some of these projects:

Here is an interesting interview with a former Shuttle astronaut who competed in a non-space reality show: Interview: Astronaut 'Survivor' Dan Barry - collectSPACE - Mar.13.06.


The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey



Space Tourist
Waiting List

Space Adventures

XCOR 250+
Virgin Galactic 750**
Space Adventures 200***

* Space Adventures has reported numbers in this range for those who are in training for Soyuz flights or expressing strong interest in a flight.

** Number of people who have signed a contract to pay the full $200k cost of a suborbital flight with Virgin Galactic. (Ref.)

*** Space Adventures says that over 200 people have either paid $10K deposits for a future suborbital spaceflight or the the full amount when such rides become available for $100k per ticket. (ref.)

+ Space Expeditions Curacao - June 2012






Home  |  Directory  |  Advertising  |  About  |  Contact  |  Disclaimer
© 1999-2022 HobbySpace, All Rights Reserved.
HobbySpace is a part of Space-H Services.