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Where do you expect to bump into your favorite Hollywood billionaires and superstars when you vacation this year? British Virgin Islands, Bora Bora, Aspen? What about the French delights of the Cote d’Azur? No, when it comes to exclusive destinations for the rich and famous – space is now the place.
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For well-heeled travelers, space isn’t the final frontier, it’s just the next frontier. Since July 2021, when Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic became the first manned passenger space flight, the possibility of traveling to this dream destination became very real for the very rich.
“Just imagine a world where people of all ages, of all backgrounds, from anywhere, of any gender, of any ethnicity, have equal access to space,” Branson told TechCrunch after the meeting. “Welcome to the dawn of a new space age!”
Space travel remains prohibitively expensive
But it will be a long time before people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to ride in space. Branson’s Virgin Galactic began taking deposits of $150,000 for a $450,000, 90-minute slot in February this year. As The Street reports, over 8,000 people reserved a space just days after the announcement.
As The Washington Post reported last year, a one-week trip to the International Space Station has a price tag of about $55 million. Houston-based Axiom Space – which is organizing the training as well as all flight preparations and expenses – said it had booked four flights aboard Elon Musk’s SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft to take place over the next few years.
According to Science Focus, Musk is so invested in the passenger space travel program that he aims to operate 1,000 starships by 2050. On August 4, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin announced that it had just completed its sixth human flight in space and the 22nd mission of the New Shepard program in space.
Experts suggest space tourism as a long-term growth industry
In an investor statement last May, Canaccord Genuity’s Ken Herbert and Austin Moeller rated Virgin Galactic Holdings a “buy,” believing in the long-term prosperity of space tourism and predicting the market could be worth $8 billion by the year 2030.
“We believe the life-changing experience and value proposition of travel to the edge of space is like no other,” the Washington Post quoted Herbert and Moeller as saying. “And there are likely many single-digit millionaires who would be willing to contribute a significant portion of their assets to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime space odyssey.”
Other agencies are enthusiastic about the potential for equal opportunity for civilians that space travel could eventually offer. Although previously reticent to open up its services and support for passenger space travel following the tragic events surrounding the 1986 Challenger disaster, NASA now appears to be fully on board.
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As The Washington Post reported last year, Kathy Lueders, head of NASA’s human spaceflight office, shared a passion not unlike Branson’s for the future of accessible passenger space travel.
“That’s the dream, isn’t it?” Lueders stated in a press conference at the time. “That space is no longer just for NASA, and I think that’s what we’re trying to do. Our goal is really to be able to give as many people access to the space as possible, so it’s kind of opening up opportunities for all of us.”
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