The Possibilities of Space Tourism
The Apex Legacy took a poll, and out of 113 people, thirty-six percent would go take a trip around the moon, thirty percent would not, and thirty-four percent would rather take the trip with an astronaut.
Regardless of what decade we’re in, spaceflight will always be dangerous and risky. NASA has lost many astronauts and astronaut hopefuls since the maiden voyage of the Mercury Redstone rocket that carried Alan Shepard into sub-orbital flight. Nevertheless, they have continued to grow and learn about the world beyond Earth.
SpaceX, a private company that is partnered with NASA, has boldly announced that two anonymous people have paid ‘a significant amount of money’ to become the United States’s first space tourists by the end of 2018. In the past, there have been space tourists who have gone to the International Space Station for $20 Million aboard the Russian Soyuz vehicle.
The projected five-day flight has a strong chance of coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission, which took three astronauts out of earth orbit and to the moon for the first time. The last time any humans reached the moon was during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
SpaceX plans to send the tourists to the moon, past it, and then loop them back around. Not only is it a big move for tourism but a big move for space travel itself. Should the Dragon spacecraft be successful in its first unmanned and crewed voyages, it would break open an arsenal of new technology NASA and SpaceX could use for sending US vehicles to the ISS without having to pay $80 Million for a seat in the Russian Soyuz vehicle by 2019.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tells the media the goal of this mission is to send the two tourists further than any man has ever gone: 400,000 miles away from Earth. They would go under 200,000 miles past the moon, since the moon is approximately 230,000 miles away. SpaceX can also send the astronauts for much cheaper than NASA could.
A launch on the Falcon Heavy Rocket that will blast them off into deep space will cost $90 Million while the SLS rocket that NASA will use to launch missions beyond the moon and to Mars will cost between $500 Million and $1 Billion.
The risks are greater than they have ever been for the future of spaceflight, and a 2018 date will be tough to reach for SpaceX. “It strikes me as risky,” Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar said. “I find it extraordinary that these sorts of announcements are being made when SpaceX has yet to get crew from the ground to low-Earth orbit.”
There are quite a few things that could go wrong with the mission, especially if the tourists will be on their own. An Apollo 13-esque meltdown could possibly happen, and with the wrong state of mind and preparation, the results could be disastrous. A number of other problems could happen if SpaceX doesn’t prepare carefully such as radiation, breach of the hatch, losing signal with Mission Control, and floating off into deep space forever if they can’t turn around.
SpaceX is reaching for the stars (literally) with this project. Not only will they be the ones sending people to the moon for the first time in over forty years, but they will be the first ones sending humans past the moon. It is a daunting task, but with the growth of technology and the hopes of the men and women in the beginnings of our space program, anything is possible.