Sometimes you need to take a break and escape everyday life, and there’s no better escape than placing a pin in the infinite interstellar map and taking a trip to outer space.
Space tourism has finally become a reality and although the ticket to ride is still at a premium for most, the cost of booking a galactic getaway is gradually falling as companies find new and innovative ways to make space travelling technology more efficient to reduce the prices for inquisitive citizen explorers.
So, whether it’s something you could consider now or perhaps way off into the future, we have a rundown of everything you need to know before journeying beyond our planet. Click through our slideshow or scroll through the celestial catalogue below for all of the information you need about the services and packages currently on offer.
Modes of Transport
Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, and SpaceX are three companies that have been at the forefront of the race to space, having already made headlines for their various crewed spaceflights. However, more and more companies are now gearing up to offer suborbital jaunts to space… or at least to the very edge of it.
Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin shared news of its fourth successful space tourism mission in March 2022. That trip saw five paying customers board the company’s New Shepard capsule to travel past the Kármán line – the internationally recognized boundary of space – before floating weightlessly for several minutes to take in the surrounding sights.
According to the Blue Origin website, there are reclining seats in the pressurized crew capsule, with room to take up to six people on a suborbital spaceflight. Each passenger gets their own window seat, and those windows take up over one-third of the capsule’s surface area, giving every occupant a spectacular view of the Earth as they depart it.
Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson achieved his dream and reached the edge of space aboard the SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane in July 2021. Following the success of that mission, the company reopened ticket sales to the general public for its commercial spaceflights. Those flights are due to start departing sometime in 2023, per SpaceNews.
Branson’s company promises a “first-of-its-kind flight” that begins with a smooth runaway take-off, much like a regular plane lifting off from one destination to travel to another. The Virgin Galactic spaceship, however, is attached to a mothership and will climb to approximately 50,000 ft before being released and propelled towards the stars.
SpaceX launched its first commercial orbital crew spaceflight in May 2020, successfully transporting NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. More than a year later, it was reported that Elon Musk had sent four private passengers into orbit for a three-day flight, marking the company’s first mission to space with an all-civilian crew.
NASA is using the Boeing Starliner spacecraft and SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for its tourism missions. The Dragon spacecraft can carry up to 7 passengers to Earth orbit and beyond. The official site for Elon Musk’s SpaceX shows the practicality of the capsule, with a row of seats, control displays, and storage space filling the quarters.
Two alternative options come by way of World View and Space Perspective. Both companies have designed space tourism solutions that will allow curious travellers to explore new perspectives from the “edge of space,” with their Balloon capsules reaching a peak altitude of 100,000 feet (almost 20 miles), above 99% of Earth’s atmosphere.
World View’s Explorer capsule is equipped with eight reclining seats, personal monitors, and large viewing ports for passengers to gaze upon the curvature of Earth and the darkness of space, while Space Perspective operates a state-of-the-art, customizable Space Lounge with chairs, tables, couches, and even a bathroom that has a skylight.
Companies such as World View and Space Perspective might not be able to thrust their passengers into the far reaches of space like Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, and SpaceX, but they are offering a luxury experience to make their trips beyond the blue marble as memorable as possible for the passengers aboard their space balloons.
The seats in World View’s hexagon-shaped pods are comparable to the level of luxury that a passenger would experience in business class on a standard commercial flight. According to Dezeen, each seat is accompanied by “a cocktail table, a screen providing educational materials and activities, a central console, personal storage and a beverage holder.”
There’s also a concierge service on board to ensure that all guests are catered to during their six-hour trip at altitude. Flyers will be offered “a gourmet meal as well as drinks” as part of their fare and will be able to “stream and use their mobile phones from the capsule,” though the capsule’s two-metre-high elliptical windows might make for better viewing.
Space Perspective’s virtual tour of Spaceship Neptune reveals the luxury interior of its Space Lounge, complete with comfortable lounge chairs, mood lighting, and even plants and herbs that can be used in food and drink prep. The vessel also has its very own cocktail menu because, after all, it’s five o’clock somewhere down on the Earth below.
The experience aboard Spaceship Neptune is fully customizable for those explorers looking to book a full capsule. “From the menu and cocktails onboard, to the soundtrack and lighting, your individual preferences can be incorporated into your journey to create your definitive ultimate adventure,” the company’s official website notes.
While space travel has opened up to the public, it’s only possible for those who can afford it and prices vary from company to company. For example, a suborbital trip with Blue Origin or Virgin Galactic will typically cost between $250,000 to $500,000 while SpaceX is considerably more – a reported $55 million each for those that travelled to the Space Station.
Companies offering balloon rides over rocket launches can offer space tourism experiences at lower prices. A voyage with World View will cost $50,000 a ticket and they have “flexible financing” options available for curious space explorers. Meanwhile, Space Perspective is asking $125,000 per ticket with a $1,000 refundable deposit to reserve a seat.
Booking a galactic getaway is just a few clicks away and most of the companies mentioned in this article are already up and running with their space tourism ventures. Reuters reports that Blue Origin completed its fifth crewed flight in June and the company currently remains open to bookings for flights in 2022 right the way through to 2025 and beyond.
Virgin Galactic opened its ticket sales back up in February and is still taking spaceflight reservations now. The company aims to have about three launches per month when operations start in 2023, according to SpaceNews. Likewise, SpaceX welcomes people to start planning their journeys now, though it’s unclear when those flights will actually launch.
World View is taking bookings and deposits for its commercial spaceflights, which are scheduled to begin from the Grand Canyon and Great Barrier Reef in 2024, with more locations opening up in the future. And Space Perspective’s first flights have sold out for 2024 but the company is still accepting reservations for its spaceflight experiences.
Before you start exploring space for yourself, you might want to learn a little more about it. After all, there are over 5,000 planets outside our solar system and there are a lot of weird and wonderful ones. There are also heaps of noteworthy stars to write home about, including one named after a Tolkien character and another that is the farthest star ever detected.
Adele Ankers-Range is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow her on Twitter.
Thumbnail image credit: NASA/Reid Wiseman.