When we told you about the most amazing things you can do with your frequent flyer miles, including booking a seat on a flight into outer space, you may have said, “Wait, what? We can do that?”
It’s true. Virgin Galactic, a subsidiary of Virgin Atlantic Airlines, is holding a drawing whose lucky winner can buy a trip into Earth’s orbit for just two million frequent flyer miles. The offer is no joke: Virgin Galactic plans to start carrying tourists into space in 2013. A ticket into orbit will cost $200,000, and more than 500 people (including celebrities, most famously Ashton Kutcher) have already bought their tickets. Virgin Galactic has built it’s own space-worthy air base in New Mexico, where they have already done test flights with their own specially designed, tourist-class space shuttles. Tickets for their first flight into orbit are being sold directly by Virgin Galactic, and through their “Accredited Space Agents” worldwide.
The idea is expected to spread, and to get cheaper—a little cheaper. According to The Huffington Post, XCOR Aerospace, another private company, is already selling tickets for space tourists to travel into orbit on their spaceships. Their price tag is a mere $95,000 per seat. Four other companies are working with NASA to develop their own spacecraft to send space tourists into orbit and to the International Space Station. The FAA expects space tourism to become a $1 billion industry within the next ten years.
Space tourism has already become a reality on a small scale. The first paying space tourist was multimillionaire Dennis Tito, who paid $20 million to fly in the Russian Soyuz capsule up to the International Space Station, where he vacationed for seven days in 2001. Since then, other extremely wealthy space tourists have also traveled to the International Space Station to enjoy a few days of weightless, fascinating, adventurous vacationing.
While we might not have vacation rentals in outer space (well, YET, at least!), we’re looking forward to seeing how this new frontier in travel will bode worldwide.