Space Tourism, the Costly Frontier

In previous articles I’ve talked about cheap small satellites for the general public to buy and even use in orbit.  But what if you want something more?  What if you want to be, if only for a few minutes, an astronaut?  “Space tourism is too expensive!” you say?  Maybe, if you only follow Virgin Galactic’s sub-orbital efforts with SpaceShip One and SpaceShip Two.

Virgin Galactic might be the first company out of the gate for space tourism, but other companies are looking to compete with Virgin Galactic.  One company, Bristol Spaceplanes, is going the seemingly faddish route of crowdfunding to get its space tourism plan from website to reality.  The aim for BSL is to build a reusable spaceplane.  The spaceplane is meant to be sub-orbital and will carry only one pilot and one passenger.  It will fly from an airfield like a regular airplane, then start a rocket engine, achieving an altitude slightly over 60 miles.

What’s not so high is the price to ride it, at least when compared to Virgin Galactic’s pricing scheme.  Virgin Galactic’s price for a seat on their ride to space is set at $250,000.  Bristol Spaceplanes overall projected cost for its spaceplane is the same price:  $250,000.  At least that’s the price Bristol Spaceplanes is aiming for on the crowdfunding site.  Unless you’re a registered investor or entrepreneur on the site, you won’t be able to see too many details.

However, this UK Wired article states there are a few perks to be had if you’re interested in investing in Bristol Spaceplanes.  Invest $8,300 and you will get a discounted seat to space on the spaceplane, which Bristol Spaceplanes calls Microsonic.  Invest a little over $33,000, and the ride to space in Microsonic is free.  This is significantly cheaper than Virgin Galactic’s space tourism ride.  If you’re interested in the proposed flight plan, Bristol Spaceplanes also shows what that would be on their Ascender description page.

Bristol Spaceplanes is hoping that Microsonic will interest major aerospace manufacturers enough to build more, and perhaps bigger and better ones.  The best part?  Bristol Spaceplanes think flying to space will become even cheaper.  But until then, if you have an extra $8000 to $33000 to invest in not necessarily a sure thing, and you or a loved one have always wanted a ride into space, what’s stopping you?  Bristol Spaceplanes’ crowdfunding initiative ends sometime May.

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