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What will space tourists get when they fly with SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic?


Richard Branson flew into space aboard a Virgin Galactic vessel, and called it the ‘experience of a lifetime’ (Picture: Virgin Galactic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Billionaire-owned space travel companies Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and SpaceX aim to send tourists to the edge of space.

Sounds promising, but sadly it’s a tad more expensive than a Ryanair return flight to Alicante.

The cheapest tickets – for Sir Richard Branson’s ‘Private Astronaut Experience’ – cost £180,000 ($250,000 USD).

And prices only rise from there. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also has a space company, Blue Origin, and the chance to be on their first flight went for £20 million ($28 million USD).

Meanwhile, fellow billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX mission to the International Space Station (ISS) will set you back double that.

So, what do you get for those planet-sized wads of cash – and how long do those passengers get to spend in space?

Here’s what we know so far.

What do you get with Virgin Galactic?

The experience: A 90-minute ride on the VSS Unity space plane, taking you from Spaceport America in New Mexico, USA, up to the edge of space, and back again.

How far into space do you go? When Branson trialled the flight for the first time, the plane peaked at 53 miles (85km) above Earth.

50 miles is high enough to be officially considered an astronaut, to experience zero gravity and to get that interstellar view of our planet from above.

But there’s been a bit of debate about whether Branson was *actually* in space, as The Karman Line – an agreed height at which Earth’s atmosphere ends and space begins – is 62 miles (100km) above Earth.

How long do you spend in space? Four minutes, according to Space.com.

How much: £180,000 ($250,000 USD) is the expected ticket price for passengers. But Branson’s initial mission is estimated to have cost approximately £434 million ($600 million USD).

What else do you get? Well, you get three days of training, also at Spaceport America, which includes preparation for ‘microgravity’ and high acceleration, along with medical checks.

What do you get with Blue Origin?

The experience: An 11-minute flight on the Blue Origin’s New Shepard ship, which is taking off from a remote Texas location.

The aim of Blue Origin, its website says, is to enable millions to live and work in space, to benefit Earth in future, as well as to facilitate commercial space travel.

How far into space do you go? Bezos’s plane will be going higher than Branson’s, to The Karman Line. So, 62 miles (100km) above Earth. We don’t yet know if any commercial offering will reach the same height.

How long do you spend in space? According to the Wall Street Journal, Bezos’s plane will stay in space for two minutes.

How much: There’s no ticket price for future trips as things stand – but the person who won the auction to join Bezos on the plane paid £20 million ($28 million USD).

The person who won the auction, as yet unnamed, decided to rearrange his flight. So, Bezos will be joined by 18-year-old runner-up Oliver Daemen, a space-dreaming physics student.

Mary Wallace ‘Wally’ Funk, an 82-year-old American aviation pioneer, will also join the flight for her first ever space experience.

What else do you get? Crew members receive two days of training, which a spokesperson told Insider: ‘Includes learning procedures for getting into and out of the capsule, a mission simulation, and learning techniques for how to move around in zero-g.’

What do you get with SpaceX/Axiom?

The experience: In early 2022, four astronauts will be rocketed by SpaceX’s commercial ship Crew Dragon 2 to the ISS, in a 10-day mission called Axiom Missing 1.

SpaceX will have flown several crews of professional astronauts to the space station prior to this mission, but this is its first ‘commercial’ space journey, paving the way for public space travel.

How far into space do you go? The ISS is 260 miles (420km) above Earth – so pretty high.

How long do you spend in space? The crew are expected to spend eight whole days in the ISS.

How much: This particular experience is said to have cost £40 million ($55 million USD), so that’s £10 million per person.

Again, it’s not clear how much tickets will cost for future experience available to the public. But we do know that several more have already been planned.

What else do you get? Training, medical and life support, as well as eight days paid for on the IDD, including food and somewhere to sleep.

It costs millions per day just to keep one astronaut up there, NASA says, so the high price is justified.


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