By Aimee Heckel
This isn’t a sci-fi movie, and this isn’t completely hypothetical, either. If you could, would you travel to outer space?
Well, you can. If you have a few million dollars to spare, that is.
Space Adventures is a company that sends private citizens — not trained astronauts — to outer space for adventures. For reals. In fact, they’ve been doing it since 1998. So the idea of space travel isn’t even futuristic; it’s a reality, and expected to gain popularity in the next few years.
Curious about taking a space vacation? Here’s the low-down.
How do you know you’re safe? Space Adventures says it uses proven equipment, and it pairs travelers with professional astronauts and cosmonauts.
How common is this? Space Adventures estimates that over the next decade, it will bring more people into space than since the dawn of the Space Age. It estimates 140 private citizens could participate by 2020. The first space tourist was Dennis Tito. Classical soprano singer Sarah Brightman has plans to take a space trip around 2015.
Virgin Galactic is another company with plans to offer suborbital spaceflights to tourists. The Spaceship Company, owned by Virgin Galactic, has the mission to make safe, reliable and affordable access to space travel.
What kind of trips can you take? You can visit the Earth’s orbit 200 miles above the surface and experience weightlessness. Visit private space stations. Take a private expedition around the moon. Or just join in a zero-gravity experience back on Earth in a specially modified airplane. If you’re not ready to travel to space, you can also opt for a VIP launch tour or go through spaceflight training.
What does this cost? A full-fledged outer space extravaganza is extremely expensive, though. It’s estimated Brightman’s 10-day trip will cost her upwards of $35 million. Space Adventures’ 17-day trip around the moon and back costs $150 million.
But don’t give up all of your hopes just yet. A zero-gravity experience starts at $4,950 per person; a private charter of 36 people costs $165,000. And occasionally, big companies run contests where people can win a chance to participate for free (although it’s usually a zero-gravity option, not two weeks to the moon).
Looking for another (cheaper) way to indulge in your love for space? Plan a vacation to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Have lunch with an astronaut ($55.99 for a child/$79.99 adult), watch IMAX films or participate in a simulated shuttle launch. General admission tickets cost $50 for adults and $40 for children.
Looking for a deal? The Kennedy Space Center is running a Valentine’s Day special right now: buy one adult, get one free, or buy one child, get one free. Tickets valid through Feb. 14.
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