The Commercial Space Race

It seems like every year another space age technology enters the day-to-day routines of average citizens.   Once awe-inspiring gadgets like the Jetson’s Visaphone and Minority Report’s gesture controlled computers infiltrated our lives to improve our connectivity and productivity.   Now, a new Sci-Fi reality is on the brink of entering the main stream aiming to lifting heads up from gadgets and inspiring a new generation of astronauts.

While missions to the moon and mars are already in the planning stages, tickets are now being sold for brief sub orbital site seeing tours.  During a dinner with Michael Mole, CEO of Space Expedition Corporation, it was difficult not to be energized by his account of the next big thing in adventure travel.   Taking off in a rocket ship and breaking the speed of sound in less than a minute, accelerating to Mach three in another two, shooting up to an altitude of 100KM to suspend weightless for five minutes before hurdling back to earth with 4G’s of pressure against your chest; decelerating into a glide back to earth landing just one hour after take off.

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The thrill of a lifetime comes with an equally gut wrenching sticker shock.  Prices range from $100,000 – $250,000 per seat.  The price includes an array of flight simulators, zero-g flights, and G-centrifuges that teach you tricks for coping with the different levels of gravitational forces.   Don’t be expecting Groupon discounts anytime time soon, Michael says,  “the price has been set buy the good old principles of supply and demand.”   As long as the number thrill-seeking millionaires outnumber the number of available seats this excursion will be left to the deep-pocketed adventure seekers.

The next few years are sure to define a new era in travel and thrill seeking.   The race is heating up and the question is longer if, but how we’d like to enjoy our journey into the space.  Virgin Galactic is scheduled to be the first commercial operator to launch ships by the end of this year and Richard Branson plans to be aboard the first shuttle.  Spacexc is taking reservations now for flights launching in Q3 of 2014.

These are the only two companies taking reservations for trips into space in the next year… here’s a quick comparison of the experience.

Virgin Galactic ($250,000) –

Pro’s – Out of seat weightless experience, 3hr trip, larger shuttle so you can share the experience with your polo pals.

Con’s – Small porthole windows to view the world below you.

 Spacexc ($100,000) –

Pro’s – You’re the co-pilot.   You have full 180 degree view during the flight.  Single aircraft makes the ride seamless, price.

Con’s – Only 1 hour trip, the small 2 person aircraft is too small to exit your seat to do zero gravity somersaults.

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