The buzz on space tourism is getting louder, this time with lot of traction on the investment and technology fronts
Travel and tourism might be one of the sectors hit the worst by the pandemic today, but there are many who are betting on a big revival. Indeed, so big a revival that they expect a clientele for lodgings in space. To be sure, the hospitality industry has been eyeing space tourism since even before the Moon landing, as Bloomberg columnist Adam Minter points out. But, now—suddenly, it would almost seem—there is so much traction on this front that planning to sip a pina-colada and “enjoy the Sun”, from the low-Earth-orbit, wouldn’t seem ludicruous in a conversation with non-intoxicated participants. In March, American start-up The Gateway Foundation announced that it would launch the first commercial space hotel in 2027; its Voyager Station can house 280 guests and 112 crew members. Another American company, Axiom Space will be launching a commercial space station that will be available to both astronauts and space tourists.
While sceptics believe true space tourism is not just decades, but may be a century or two away, given the need to perfect every link of the chain, and not just lodging. But, a crucial link—transport–is already seeing confident action, from Virgin Galactic to SpaceX, a clutch of companies announcing plans in the sector as well successfully conducting test-runs. Beyond this, many companies are experimenting to see how existing technology can be repurposed to serve the needs of commercial space-travel. This could shorten timelines drastically. The costs of such travel/tourism? Beyond the pocket of most, certainly, but there are enough who want the experience—UBS estimates the space tourism market to be worth $3 billion by 2030.