Space Exploration Milestones: Tours of Space

How much would it cost for someone to enjoy a flight into space? In this article, you will learn the amount that a civilian paid in order to venture into the great beyond. Also, there are several companies and projects in the planning phase that hope to make space exploration possible for non-astronauts.  

The First Space Tourist

You’d have to be a millionaire like Dennis Tito from the United States to afford the cost of jumping on a spacecraft. Tito became the first space tourist , reportedly paying $20 million to climb aboard the Russian Soyuz TM-323 flight to the International Space Station. His “mission” lasted from April 28 to May 6 in 2001.

During his time in space, Tito orbited Earth a total of 128 times, where he performed a handful of scientific experiments in orbit that he said would be helpful for his company and business. This would not be the last we’d hear about Tito , he testified at the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space and the House Committee on Science, Subcommittee on Space & Aeronautics Joint Hearing regarding the topic of commercial human spaceflights on July 24, 2003.

First Astronaut from China

In October of 2003, the first Chinese astronaut was launched into space. Yang Liwei made eight orbits of Earth in a spacecraft called Shenzhou 5. When the Chinese major general and military pilot went into space, his mission marked a historic event , China had become the third country to independently send people into space. In the middle of his mission, state television broadcast footage of Yang waving a small flag inside his capsule of the People’s Republic of China and one belonging to the United Nations. China embarked on its second flight with two astronauts in October of 2005.

Advanced Plans for Tourism Flights

In 2010, Virgin Galactic starts planning space tourism flights aboard SpaceShipOne, which has the ability to carry six passengers at one time. The cost to enjoy this luxury is $200,000 per person. The spacecraft is expected to reach more than 62 miles into the sky. The company is head by Richard Branson of the Virgin Group. Initial plans concentrate on sub-orbital spaceflights, but Branson hopes to be able to deliver orbital human spaceflights as well. Virgin Galactic was initially founded in 2004. Other companies have also started to research and develop spacecraft to accomplish the same space travel for the paying public.

The Last Space Shuttle Retires

In 2010, the last space shuttle retires with the STS-133 Endeavour, which is believed to become the last flight for a space shuttle. In use since 1981, the Shuttle will be replaced by Orion spacecraft, which is planned to launch in 2014. Researchers hope to conduct more landings on the Moon, as well as explore Mars a bit more, in the future.