It is now possible for a civilian to travel in space as a tourist provided they have the means. Indeed, space tourism is not within everyone's reach because it is expensive.
Billionaire Richard Branson paved the way for the development of space tourism. The founder of Virgin Galactic made its first trip into space July 11, 2021 followed by a few days after that of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, 20 July 2021. This was aboard the rocket New Shepard, assembled by his company Blue Origin.
The latest is that of SpaceX. The company began its first space tourism mission on Thursday, September 16, 2021. Elon Musk sent four civilian passengers aboard his Crew Dragon capsule into space. It is the first capsule in history to send only novices into orbit, without any professional astronaut on board. It was named Inspiration4.
These trips provided a glimpse of what space tourism could look like in the years to come. However, it is, for the moment, a nascent industry, reserved for an elite of ultra privileged.
For good reason, you have to spend nearly 250,000 dollars (or about 142 million CFA francs) for an expedition lasting 90 minutes aboard one of the vessels of Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic company, capable of reaching an altitude of 80 kilometers.
The British entrepreneur estimates that with the launch of a commercial offer as early as 2022 and the resulting increase in demand , the price of such a ticket could drop below the $ 100,000 mark (or around $ 57 million. CFA francs) by 2030.
The border between Earth and space is delimited by the Kármán line, set at 100 km altitude. This limit, defined in the 1950s before the conquest of space, is recognized by the International Aeronautical Federation (FAI).
This "border" thus creates two categories of flights: suborbital (below 100 km) and orbitals (beyond 100 km). Suborbital flights are like "projected" towards space before reaching their peak and falling back to Earth under the effect of gravity.
These ultra-fast flights (between 15 and 30 minutes) will be operated by Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin and include a phase of weightlessness of a few minutes. Orbital flights, on the other hand, involve putting the spacecraft into orbit and at least one round the Earth.
They will be organized in particular by SpaceX and Axiom Space, which provide for expeditions lasting several days.