Space Tourism

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ZacFarr

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Not strictly space or science, but how long is it going to be before flight into space(not just into the outer layers of the atmosphere where weightlessness is achieved) is going to be common? What are the technical requirements for such a flight? With places like Spaceport America newly finished and companies like Virgin Galactic sending people up early next year they obviously think there is a market for it, but I'm looking at your average person being able to afford it, not just people with a spare $200,000. What kind of time frame are we looking at and why?
 
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mr_mark

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Glad you mentioned this topic. It's something I like to think about. As far as Virgin Galactic, they have no plans to do orbital spaceflight in the next 20 years or so. That being said I have something even better to share with you. Virgin Galactic plans on turning Spaceship 3 into a suborbital point to point craft. So, you could in theory travel from say Los Angeles to Tokyo by the suborbital route in say 2 hours. I think you get where I'm going with this. In the next 10-15 years, we could see an explosion of point to point suborbital space travel. This has 2 effects. One it makes travel here on Earth much faster and easier and second, it gets people used to the everyday reality of space as a travel method and point. After, that it will take less public belief for travel into LEO. Remember also that Spacex, Boeing, Russian, ESA and the United States are all planning on building capsule designs in the near future to deliver cargo and people into LEO and to the ISS. It's going to be getting very busy up there in the next 10 years.
 
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DarkenedOne

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mr_mark":dqd8ud5u said:
Glad you mentioned this topic. It's something I like to think about. As far as Virgin Galactic, they have no plans to do orbital spaceflight in the next 20 years or so. That being said I have something even better to share with you. Virgin Galactic plans on turning Spaceship 3 into a suborbital point to point craft. So, you could in theory travel from say Los Angeles to Tokyo by the suborbital route in say 2 hours. I think you get where I'm going with this. In the next 10-15 years, we could see an explosion of point to point suborbital space travel. This has 2 effects. One it makes travel here on Earth much faster and easier and second, it gets people used to the everyday reality of space as a travel method and point. After, that it will take less public belief for travel into LEO. Remember also that Spacex, Boeing, Russian, ESA and the United States are all planning on building capsule designs in the near future to deliver cargo and people into LEO and to the ISS. It's going to be getting very busy up there in the next 10 years.
First of all last time I checked Virgin Galactic has not made any plans 20 years in advance. They have simply said that they will make plans based on the success of Spaceship Two. Obviously if they are successful and investors see that there is much money to be made in space tourism then they will take it to the next level. Otherwise they will not.

Second of all it is unlikely for you to see suborbital flights take over the airline industry. Suborbital flights cost far more in fuel. At the same time vehicles like spaceship one require a mother ship, which further decreases the economics.
 
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SteveCNC

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I could see the price for a sub-orbital flight getting down around 75k if they are frequent enough , then divide that by the number of passengers and you get around 13k per person if the ship has a full load . That would be the way to go though , feel like dinner in paris go for it your 2 hours away if you live near a take-off point .

As for when space itself will become common I'd say about 15 more years maybe 20 , that should be enough time for Bigelow to get a large station or two up and running , considering the first module goes up in 2014 just 4 years from now according to the spaceX launch manifest .

If I live long enough I might have to hitch a ride up there , although the older I get the more suseptable I am to motion sickness . I know when I was young I could wind a rope up and hang and spin like mad , never got sick . the other day I went up to the palomar observatory and on the ride up I was starting to feel a little sick , of course it dosen't help that I let my son drive and he loves lateral g's but still in my youth that wouldn't have phazed me . So it looks like I will be needing a patch for the duration in space otherwise I'll look like :mrgreen:
 
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ZacFarr

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I had heard about the Spaceship 3 plan Virgin Galactic had but I didn't know about all the capsules planned. I knew Boeing and NASA were making some but I didn't know there were that many companies designing them. Why are the capsules the way everyone is going? What about them makes them better than ships like the Virgin Spaceship 2? Would they last longer? Virgin Galactic expects the Spaceship 2's to last about 200 flights each. Do capsules have more flights in them?
 
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CAllenDoudna

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Right now we're still groping our way finding out what works and what doesn't but we've added finances and profits as a third dimension. I would guess that capsules are probably cheaper and simpler, not as tricky and there's less that can go wrong, sort of like balloons and airships versus the early airplanes. But we are definitely heading for a next-generation Space Shuttle equipped with scramjet technology that can take off and land from an airport. Right now that technology is just a little bit out of reach--but we're getting there.

The $200,000 tickets provide the funds for the launch vehicles that will only cost $50,000 which we'll probably see sometime between 2015 (doubt it) and 2020 (near certainty) while somebody will probably be selling trips to the Moon for $200,000. By 2030 we should see $5,000 tickets and $50,000 will get you the Moon. $1,000 tickets by 2040. We could probably go straight to the $1,000-ticket launch vehicle as early as 2025 since we will have figured out most of what we need to know by then--but we will have just built and bought the $50,000 variety and they've got to pay for themselves first. It will be prudent to go to the $5,000-ticket model next because we will barely have trained, experienced personnel, accommodations, and facilities for the business that will bring so we won't be ready for the the $1,000 model till 2040. By 2050 the person who hasn't been to LEO will be like the person who has never flown is today while a trip to the Moon will be as common as a flight across the ocean is today. By 2050 trips to Mars and elsewhere will have more to do with how much time you have than money.
 
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emudude

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ZacFarr":2nvzss8w said:
I had heard about the Spaceship 3 plan Virgin Galactic had but I didn't know about all the capsules planned. I knew Boeing and NASA were making some but I didn't know there were that many companies designing them. Why are the capsules the way everyone is going? What about them makes them better than ships like the Virgin Spaceship 2? Would they last longer? Virgin Galactic expects the Spaceship 2's to last about 200 flights each. Do capsules have more flights in them?
Comparing Spaceship 2 to a Capsule is analogous to comparing apples and oranges: they're both used for similar things, but in the end, they're very different from one another.

Spaceship 2 is to be used for a quick foray into outer space, and is reusable so many times because it doesn't travel at anywhere near the speeds that a capsule - which must achieve escape velocity - must endure. Look at the simple shape of the capsule: it's a cone, and when this cone has to hurl itself through a dense atmosphere at killer speeds, you'd better damn well have the forces evenly distributed across its surface, or else you're going to end up as an expensive firecracker. Spaceship 2 crosses the boundary of space so that you can see the curvature of the earth and be surrounded by the darkness of space, and enjoy weightlessness; you're sent back down to earth shortly thereafter. It is, in the end, a much more maneuverable craft than the capsule, because its survival is not put to anywhere near the risk of a capsule returning at gargantuan speeds from the reaches of space would be.
 
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ZacFarr

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emudude":370zo8dl said:
Comparing Spaceship 2 to a Capsule is analogous to comparing apples and oranges: they're both used for similar things, but in the end, they're very different from one another.

Spaceship 2 is to be used for a quick foray into outer space, and is reusable so many times because it doesn't travel at anywhere near the speeds that a capsule - which must achieve escape velocity - must endure. Look at the simple shape of the capsule: it's a cone, and when this cone has to hurl itself through a dense atmosphere at killer speeds, you'd better damn well have the forces evenly distributed across its surface, or else you're going to end up as an expensive firecracker. Spaceship 2 crosses the boundary of space so that you can see the curvature of the earth and be surrounded by the darkness of space, and enjoy weightlessness; you're sent back down to earth shortly thereafter. It is, in the end, a much more maneuverable craft than the capsule, because its survival is not put to anywhere near the risk of a capsule returning at gargantuan speeds from the reaches of space would be.
I'm a bit confused. Are capsules easier to make but more dangerous or just more dangerous? Why are so many companies designing them if they are less maneuverable and more dangerous?
 
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emudude

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@ ZacFarr

They aren't more dangerous, it's what they're used for that is more dangerous. They will be approaching earth's atmosphere at much higher speeds (because they're most likely coming from either somewhere outside earth's orbit or very high up in earth's orbit) and therefore will be put under much more intense heating than something like spaceship two would be.
 
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MeteorWayne

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The conical capsule is self aligning. I just love how so few people understand that. It's not an accident that it is the preferrred design.
 
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ZacFarr

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@emudude

Okay. I get it.

@MeteorWayne

Whats your opinion on space tourism?
 
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MeteorWayne

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IMHO, space tourism is a mission that does nothing to help us explore space. So great, a few dozen folks can afford the
$200 million to take a joyride to 100 km. That isn't LEO. It isn't "space". Exactly how does that help cheap LEO access? The answer is, it doesn't do a darn thing.

If you're rich enough to afford it, go for it. But 100 km ain't space, IMHO. And it does nothing to help the future, it just gives the super-rich an outlet for their money.

When there are space hotels that the super-rich can book a trip to, that at least has some value (because it shows LEO is affordable), but I'm not holding my breath just yet....
 
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ZacFarr

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Hhhhmmmmm..... Interesting I hadn't thought of that. But okay, space hotels. How long do you think it will be before there is a running hotel in space? 20 years? 25 years? I agree that space tourism in its current form is nothing more than a very expensive 6 minutes of free floating but I do think that commercializing space travel(or the whatever you want to call what it is now) will lead to more money going into the development of better ships, probes, etc.
 
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Gravity_Ray

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I have been following human space flight for a bit over 40 years. In all that time there has been only two major changes.

1. Elon Musk. SpaceX is doing everything it can to create an environment for its hardware. Both rockets like Falcon 9 and capsules such as Dragon. Right now the only real big time customer is the government so SpaceX is working to do business for them so they can improve their product (and its safety) with an eye towards moving more people Beyond Low Earth Orbit or (BLEO).

2. Robert Bigelow. Bigelow aerospace is a company that is dedicated to put cheaper and larger modular space platforms into LEO and BLEO. Bigelow is working to improve his product in order to reduce the cost and improve safety to move more humans into space.

If it wasn’t for these two individuals I would say nothing has changed to improve human spaceflight from a small club of a few governments shooting a few astronauts into space. I would have been sadly and sorely upset if these two had not come along and changed the whole human space flight path. I have a strong feeling from following human space flight for this many years that these two men will change the future in some meaningful way.

I say within in the next 2 decades you will see an improvement into getting people to space and having a destination for those people in space. Be that space tourism or something a bit more meaningful such as the expansion of the human species to LEO and BLEO (The Moon and Mars).
 
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ZacFarr

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@Gravity_Ray

Thanks for the information. By "an improvement into getting people to space and having a destination for them" are you saying better rockets(or capsules) and something like a space hotel or maybe even colony? And what is you opinion about companies like Virgin Galactic or Up. Do you think they will contribute to the expansion of and accessibility of space travel or make it seem like something only the rich can afford?
 
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Gravity_Ray

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ZacFarr":1lwqux35 said:
@Gravity_Ray

Thanks for the information. By "an improvement into getting people to space and having a destination for them" are you saying better rockets(or capsules) and something like a space hotel or maybe even colony? And what is you opinion about companies like Virgin Galactic or Up. Do you think they will contribute to the expansion of and accessibility of space travel or make it seem like something only the rich can afford?
Well not necessarily better rockets or capsules. Those things were already nearly perfected in the 60’s. What I am saying is that the rockets and the capsule method is tried and successful. So why make something “new”. What spaceX is doing in my opinion is making something that works, cheaper. That’s what private companies do.

If your typical space shuttle launch costs about 1.3 Billion per why not launch a somewhat smaller load by Falcon and Dragon for about 50 million per. That is for every shuttle, spaceX can launch 26 times. That’s the way to open up LEO to the private sector and then let people come up with things to do up there.

Although Bigelow doesn’t like the words “space hotel”, they are in the business of launching and maintaing an orbital platform that the private sector can sue for… whatever the heck they can imagine. Be it for a hotel, an engineering or biological lab, to a show like survivor… I don’t know, something that will have more people say: Wait a second if they can do that I can do X.

As far as Virgin Galactic or other sub orbital players more power to them. I don’t think they will impact the orbital stuff very much. There is a world of difference between sub orbital launches and orbital launches. But There is for sure a market for sub orbital tourists. I mean it costs about $75,000 to climb Mt. Everest (and about 150 people try each and every year) then I am sure there will be plenty that want to go sub orbital for $200,000 (and that price will drop as you get 2 or 3 space ship 2’s). By the way I think that most of the money for Virgin Galactic will come from point to point transportation. Can you imagine what a company like FedEx or UPS can do with that? How about some high paid executive that needs to go from Paris to Hong Kong? You bet they will use it.

The more players in sub orbital or orbital the better. But again as I said for orbital tasks (and that is the game changer for humanity) in all of my years only SpaceX and Bigelow have had the brass balls to try to throw one down the field and I hope they get a touch down.
 
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vulture4

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The most important element of the space tourist business is that it clearly illustrates the curve of supply and demand for human spaceflight. At $20M there is a market for 1 or 2 seats a year to LEO. at $100,000 there is a market for possibly 100 seats to suborbital space. Human spaceflight is a typical luxery good with high price elasticity of demand. We don't need exploration to create a market. Obviously the market already exists, but is very sensitive to cost. The need, if human spaceflight is ever to be practical, is for NASA to help industry reduce its cost by at least an order of magnitude. This can only be accomplished with fully reusable launch systems. As the cost is reduced, the market will increase.

Constellation, in contrast, will just absorb all the money for 20 years and leave us with more pictures and a few rock samples but no technology that accomplishes the hardest and most critical task, fully reusable orbital launch.
 
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ZacFarr

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@vulture4

Interesting take... Virgin Galactic already has 350 tickets sold though so I think that the way space travel has been romanticized through the media will lead to more people being willing to spend more money on it. I also think(unlike many) that the real way we are going to get somewhere in space in because of money that is pumped into the space travel market by consumers, so the more options there are the more money will be going into it so I think that more companies need to start getting into it. In addition, the more companies there are the competitive the market leading to lower prices.

@emudude

I hadn't really thought of that... I do think that sometimes innovations need to be made and new things have to be tried to help us advance. Otherwise we would still be living in caves and eating berries. We need to try new things but only in the areas where there is obvious room for improvement. The more we improve one area will lead to improvements in other areas and you end up with a rocket that is twice as good.
 
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Spacehawk

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Just wanted to add my 2 cents to the whole point to point transportation. It sounds exciting, and yes FEDEX can do great things with it, but let's not forget that the Concord, which offered supersonic flights, is no longer in business. One could travel from NY to London in two hours, yet it went bankrupt. I don't think there is market out there for a point to point orbitol flights, especially when they will cost more than the Concord. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of human space flight, been reading on this site for a few years, but I don't think Point to Point is going to have a market.
 
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Gravity_Ray

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Spacehawk":1kj7wxdx said:
Just wanted to add my 2 cents to the whole point to point transportation. It sounds exciting, and yes FEDEX can do great things with it, but let's not forget that the Concord, which offered supersonic flights, is no longer in business. One could travel from NY to London in two hours, yet it went bankrupt. I don't think there is market out there for a point to point orbitol flights, especially when they will cost more than the Concord. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of human space flight, been reading on this site for a few years, but I don't think Point to Point is going to have a market.
You may be correct but Concord had some inherent issues. For example, noise. That thing was so noisy that when it tried to land at various airports it was driving all the neighbors and their pets crazy. Also there was a lot of bad publicity about it punching holes in the ozone layer (I can’t remember exactly the details).

So hopefully Virgin Galactic can learn from those lessons.
 
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DarkenedOne

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vulture4":1duqlaw2 said:
The most important element of the space tourist business is that it clearly illustrates the curve of supply and demand for human spaceflight. At $20M there is a market for 1 or 2 seats a year to LEO. at $100,000 there is a market for possibly 100 seats to suborbital space. Human spaceflight is a typical luxery good with high price elasticity of demand. We don't need exploration to create a market. Obviously the market already exists, but is very sensitive to cost. The need, if human spaceflight is ever to be practical, is for NASA to help industry reduce its cost by at least an order of magnitude. This can only be accomplished with fully reusable launch systems. As the cost is reduced, the market will increase.

Constellation, in contrast, will just absorb all the money for 20 years and leave us with more pictures and a few rock samples but no technology that accomplishes the hardest and most critical task, fully reusable orbital launch.
There is far more than 100 seats at the $100,000 dollar range. Virgin Galactic has something like 300 seats already and they have yet to produce their final vehicle. My guess is that the market will expand significantly once it gets established.

Secondly fully reusable system is definitely going to make things better, but I think the big thing is going to be volume. If you look anywhere in the transportation you see one overriding principle, bigger is cheaper per person. Spaceflight is definitely an economy of scale. Larger rockets deliver more kg per dollar. Larger spacecraft transport more people per $. As you can see the Dragon and the CS-100 are projected to cost $25 million per person with 7 people. Imagine if you had a rocket that could do 100 people. I am willing to bet the cost for such a rocket would be less than 5 million per person.
 
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ZacFarr

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@spacehawk

The Concorde came out about 15 years too soon. If they had found a way to make it quieter(quite difficult at supersonic speeds I'm sure, but still) they wouldn't have had a problem most likely and also the ozone killing gases it made could have been drastically reduced if they were making them now. I don't think Virgin Galactic will encounter the same issues although I'm sure that several will pop up.

And on a different note. The price per person of the flights from Virgin Galactic will go down immensely when they start getting 1) more competition and 2) more and bigger rockets. The $200,000 a ticket price is not going to last more than 5 years in my opinion.
 
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raptorborealis

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Spacehawk":2fbzjyuy said:
Just wanted to add my 2 cents to the whole point to point transportation. It sounds exciting, and yes FEDEX can do great things with it, but let's not forget that the Concord, which offered supersonic flights, is no longer in business. One could travel from NY to London in two hours, yet it went bankrupt. I don't think there is market out there for a point to point orbitol flights, especially when they will cost more than the Concord. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of human space flight, been reading on this site for a few years, but I don't think Point to Point is going to have a market.
Very true.... and there were many more development costs than just not being unsound financially. Those costs were eaten by governments.

And no city is going to build hundreds of millions in facilities (today airporsts cost billions) to help Fedex move packages in 2 hours instead of 8...and taxpayers would never approve such facilities for 'executives' (who rarely took the Concord anyways). I suppose a company could spend hundreds of millions (or billions) in remote areas but that defeats the purpose of fast trasvel. (and what authority would 'approve' any of this if humans were routine passengers!)

The reality is that the price of a Shurtte flight, Concord flight, military jet, etc . does NOT go down over time. I heard John Glenn commenting and he said that every flight that a military jet takes is experimental whether it's the 10th flight or 1000th. He was commenting on Shuttle costs and wanting people to be realistic about what is considered 'routine''. 'Economy of scale' takes a long time to kick in and perhaps never with leading edger technology when safety is paramount.

The numbers such as $200,000 a flight...then down to $75,000 are meaningless and grabbed out of the air. The statements such as 'rich people will pay...' are likewise based on nothing. Nobody really has a clue how much any of this would cost and if there is any market. One accident (such as the Shuttle) and all numbers are tossed in the air and nobody has a clue what would happen.
 
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