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Where do you hope to run into your favorite billionaires and Hollywood superstars when you’re on vacation this year? The British Virgin Islands, Bora Bora, Aspen? How about the French delights of the Côte d’Azur? No, when it comes to exclusive destinations for the rich and famous, space is now the place.
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For affluent travelers, space isn’t the last 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.
“Imagine a world where people of all ages, all backgrounds, from anywhere, from any gender, from any ethnicity, have equal access to space,” Branson said after touching down, according to TechCrunch. “Welcome to the dawn of a new space age!”
Space travel is still extremely expensive
But it will be quite some time before people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to travel to space. Branson’s Virgin Galactic began taking $150,000 deposits for a $450,000 90-minute space jump in February this year. According to The Street, more than 8,000 people reserved a space within days of the announcement.
As The Washington Post reported last year, a one-week trip to the International Space Station costs about $55 million. Houston-based Axiom Space, which is organizing the training as well as all the preparation and expenses for the flight, said it had booked four flights aboard Elon Musk’s SpaceX Crew Dragon ship to take place over the next years.
Musk is heavily invested in his passenger space travel program, so much so that he intends to operate 1,000 starships by 2050, according to Science Focus. On August 4, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin announced that it had just completed its sixth human spaceflight and the 22nd space mission of the New Shepard program.
Space tourism, a long-term growth industry, experts suggest
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 2030
“We believe the life-changing experience and value proposition of traveling to the edge of the cosmos is like no other,” the Washington Post quoted Herbert and Moeller as saying. “And there are likely to be 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 excited about the potential for equal opportunity for civilians that space travel can offer as well. Although previously reluctant 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 similar to Branson’s for the future of passenger-accessible space travel.
“This is the dream, isn’t it?” Lueders stated in a press conference at the time. “This space isn’t just for NASA anymore, 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 space as possible, so it’s kind of opening up opportunities for all of us.”
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