By Anthony Wang
SpaceX is a private company founded by Elon Musk that designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. It is making plans for commercial space travel, space delivery, and interplanetary colonization. The company’s first two paying space tourists will be departing from Earth sometime in late 2018.
Although SpaceX’s idea of space tourism sounds novel, the company’s CEO and CTO, Elon Musk, did not invent it. Since 2001, a Virginia company called Space Adventures has been offering space travel opportunities to multimillionaires. Space Adventures provides its clients with opportunities to board Russian spacecrafts and experience a space walk. However, Space Adventures is deeply dependent on Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, because it does not have the ability to make it’s own spacecraft. Therefore, Space Adventures’ space tourism opportunities may be limited.
Space tourism is not for everyone – the price for such tourism is between 20 million to 1 billion dollars. NASA currently does not have any spacecraft available to transport astronauts to or from the International Space Station (ISS), and according to CNN, NASA currently pays about $80 million per seat on the three-person Russian Soyuz vehicle. Elon Musk claims that tickets for a round trip to the moon and back would cost more than that. I talked to half a dozen d.tech juniors, and this is what they think about the promise of space tourism.
“It’s cool, but … it’s too costly” says Kishiyama. “Space tourism is way too dangerous and impractical.”
“I think space tourism is a fantastic idea, because people get to leave their…temporary problems behind and experience space’s mysterious nature,” says Khaw. “Living on other planets is a fantastic idea.”
“Sounds amazing, but most people won’t be able to afford the tour.”
“Interesting, but there’s no way this thing will be on schedule.”
“The price tag is understandable, but it’s dangerous. I don’t think I’ll go to space for tourism until it’s more mainstream.”
“I would, because you see pictures taken from space, and it would be cool if I could see them myself,” says Fong. “It’s a good idea to colonize other planets, so we don’t overpopulate Earth.”
“They’re gonna make a lot of money out of it,” says Gee. “As time goes on, I think space tourism will be more and more mainstream”