Space tourism promises to be the next best travel promises to be the next big thing. Although explosive blastoffs might be too daring for some, there is a startup that plans to cater for those. How? By sending groups of people to the edge of space in giant balloons.
Space tourism plans
According to the startup, they plan to launch tourists in an observation capsule attached to a massive balloon. There is no doubt that such trips will only be for the very rich. The balloon trips would take tourists to heights of approximately 100,000 feet to the edge of space. It will be no more than a day trip, lasting about six hours.
After launching from Kennedy Space Center, the outward travel will take about two hours and the same for the return trip to Earth. The occupants of the observation capsule will have two hours to enjoy views promising to be breathtaking. Upon return, the capsule will plunge into the Atlantic Ocean. Some kind of vessel will then pick up the passengers and transport them to shore.
Questions about space tourism
I, for one, have many questions about this concept. Will passengers wear space suits? Astronauts wear special pressurized suits to protect them from the outer space environment, even inside a spacecraft. Risks such as extreme temperatures, vacuum and loss of pressure in the capsule come to mind.
What about health risks? In 2012, a study supported by NASA stated that humans who travel to space might suffer brain damage. The same report showed that such travel could accelerate Alzheimer’s disease onset. Other health risks include barotrauma, which according to Wikipedia is physical damage to body tissues. Difference in pressure between a gas space inside, or in contact with, the body, and the surrounding gas or fluid can cause it.
Astronauts could suffer decompression sickness, immunodeficiencies, loss of eyesight and loss of muscle and bone. Other risks include orthostatic intolerance and astronauts wear suits for protection against radiation. How many of these risks to which astronauts are susceptible will also risk the health and safety of space tourists?
Why space tourism?
Already some believe that space exploration is crucial for human survival. Space tourism might be the ideal way to explore the options.
How much will a balloon trip cost?
Based on what we know about space rockets, sending vehicles to space is expensive. Space balloons will skip the blastoff stage; however, a six-hour trip to the edge of space will take a significant chunk out of the super-rich pockets. The startup estimates that a ticket will cost about $125.000 per person. In conclusion, a lot of FAA and other red tape stand in the way, and it will be a while before space tourism becomes a reality.