Last updated: 02:37 PM ET, Mon June 01 2015

Update: What Is the Going Rate and Timeline for Space Tourism?

Features & Advice | Tom Bastek | June 01, 2015

Update: What Is the Going Rate and Timeline for Space Tourism?

Photo Courtesy of Space Adventures

In 2001, Dennis Tito became the first space tourist. His $20 million went to Russia, who originally was going to send him in a Soyuz spacecraft to the MIR space station. MIR was planned for deorbit prior to trip so he managed to have the trip switched to the International Space Station. Since that flight there have been seven other people who have paid their way to space, the last of which paid an estimated $40 million in 2009. But when do we all get to go? When will the prices come down?

Back in the U.S.S.R./To the Moon and Beyond

Space Adventures is still the only company that has put a tourist in space, and is still working with the Russian government to continue to fly people aboard the Soyuz spacecraft. Currently in the training phase for a flight is Satoshi Takamatsu, owner of the largest advertising agency in Japan. He will eventually be certified for a journey to the International Space Station.

Space Adventures is also currently working on circumlunar flight, where you will get to fly around the moon, something humans haven't done since 1972. Space Adventures is expecting to have their first launches for these missions in 2018.

Although Space Adventures is working with Boeing and their CST-100 spacecraft, it will probably be 2017 before the capsule is fully vetted, tested, and conducts its first mission to the ISS. Prices here are being kept very close to the vest, but plan on about $50 million or so to make the flight, with lunar missions sure to be considerably more.

Space X has been flying unmanned space craft to the ISS as well as testing its manned craft “Dragon” with hopes of making a manned flight by 2017. Elon Musk, the founder of the company, says that he hopes to eventually concentrate on exploration and colonization of Mars.

Suborbital Flight

Virgin Galactic has been leading the way in the field of suborbital flight for a while now, until a tragic accident killed Michael Alsbury, one of their test pilots, during the 55th test flight. They are building a second SpaceShipTwo now and hope to have it completed and ready for testing by the end of this year. Virgin Galactic flights costs $250,000 and must be paid in advance, even though they have no exact time of bookings as of yet.

XCOR Aerospace is going to be offering up a little bit of a cheaper flight coming in at $100,000 up front for a suborbital flight aboard their Lnyx spacecraft. They are expected to start flying toward the end of 2016. 

Space Hotels

Bigelow Aerospace is probably the closet to making something happen on the space hotel front.  They have purchased the rights to the abandoned NASA Transhab Project. The project entailed a series of inflatable soft-sided habitats that would be launched compressed, then expanded in orbit. 

Bigelow has already launched two test vehicles, and are in the process of assembling a third, full-scale module that will be connected to the International Space Station for a two-year stint to see how it handles the rigors of space for an extended period of time. If you are wondering what brand the orbiting hotel will bear, probably “Budget Suites of America,” as that is the company in which owner Robert Bigelow has a controlling interest.

There are smatterings of other companies out there trying to vie for a piece of the space action. Some are working with governments and some are entirely private, some are concentrating on hotels in space, moon bases or even trips to Mars. The rest of the 2010s and beginning of the 2020s will be some really exciting times for both private and governmental space programs.


You may use your Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook information, including your name, photo & any other personal data you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on Click here to learn more.