The concept of space tourists making into low earth orbit
is changing fast, thanks to global interest in building
spaceports around the world. Today, we have space travel
agencies that will book your flight in the amazing race
to space (for tourists, that is).
Because of the anticipated revenue in the billions of
dollars by the year 2020, spaceports are being built by
many nations with a promise of the share of some of these
very high end tourist dollars.
Spaceports Plans on the Anvil
With the rising interest of space tourism, it is no surprise
that numerous spaceports around the world are springing
up. Presently, more than a dozen spaceports are being built.
Many more are being retooled to accommodate bigger aircraft
to carry more people.
In the United States alone, several spaceports are being
built or proposed to be built, including Spaceport America,
New Mexico; Mojave Spaceport, California; Mid-Atlantic Regional
Spaceport (MARS), Virginia; Kodiak Launch Complex, Alaska;
Oklahoma Spaceport, Oklahoma; Corn Ranch Spaceport, Texas;
and Cecil Field Spaceport, Jacksonville, Florida.
Outside the United States, many
plans are proposed for the construction or redevelopment
of spaceports including Ras Al Khaimah spaceport near
Dubai and Vostochny cosmodrome, Uglegorsk, Russia.
Many other countries are proposing building spaceports,
including Japan, French Guiana, Sweden, Algeria, Australia,
India, Israel, Singapore, among others.
Baikonur Spaceport, Kazakhstan, is credited with sending
the first tourists to the International Space Station (ISS).
So far, it has sent seven tourists to space. Baikonur Spaceport
does not have a runway, as it was designed for vertical
takeoffs and landings. America's Space Adventures is the
only company to have sent tourists to space in partnership
with Russia from the Baikonur Spaceport.
Some of the spaceports being built such as Spaceport America
are paying attention not only to high tech but being green
as well. Having a low carbon footprint in the race to suborbital
space is important to many, so alternative building materials
are being used along with renewable energy sources such
In addition, the spaceports being built will have to accommodate
both vertical launch spacecraft and horizontal spaceplanes.
Spaceport America has a two-mile long runway that is designed
for safe takeoffs and landings of spaceplanes and other
types of spacecraft that will fly or glide back from LEO.
Suborbital Space Tourism
To make space travel convenient and less expensive for
regular tourists to bear, suborbital space tourism was proposed
several years back. Thus the next round of space tourism
flights will not go to the ISS but rather into low Earth
orbit (LEO) 60 miles high. Suborbital space flights will
likely and cost about $90,000 to $300,000.
This has encouraged dozens of companies in the commercial
space industry to work on their aircraft and/or spacecraft
in their bid to send commercial space tourists into the
LEO soon. Some of these companies include Space Adventures,
Virgin Galactic, RocketShip Tours, Armadillo Aerospace,
XCOR Aerospace, Starchaser, Blue Origin, among others. Tourists
will experience true weightlessness on zero gravity flights
and float, slide, and soar just inside orbital space. This
will also afford them the opportunity to observe earth's
curvature and amazing star-gazing.