In the beginning only the rich and famous could afford an airline ticket until World War II when the jet engine was created and this llowed millions to travel by planes for long distance trips at cheaper rates. While it took only forty years to vulgarize airline transport, it has taken almost a century to make possible passenger spaceflight (Webber, 2013). But what is space tourism?
According to Strickland (2012) a lot of literature is based tourism on earth but very limited on space tourism which he defines space tourism as a term used when an individual buy a ticket to allow him/her to take a trip to space and come back but Berinstein (2002) adds that space tourism can be defined according to activities space tourists. Other definitions mphasize on the tourist experience (low gravity, observing the sky, the stars and earth curve) (Collins, 1999).
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In this work, using the most up to date information we are going to show how space tourism evolved through time and its current situation today, the major players and potential market for space tourism as well as the possible new developments in this sector. Further we are going to show the importance of developing space industry for the whole world and the various challenges that this sector is experiencing in becoming a real industry accessible to all. 2. Importance of Space tourism Space Tourism has a lot of importance not only for technology development but also for commercial opportunities and revenue that it can generate.
It can also allow the generation of many direct and direct jobs as well as taxes in different countries. Further, it will enable to reduce risk associated with space flights and enable the development of cheaper mode of space transport. The development of safe, cheaper, reusable and operationally efficient spacecrafts will not only benefit space tourism but also governments, researchers and all other entities interested in space (Webber, 2013). From 961 not more than 500 people have carried out trips into space and only 24 of them have set foot on the moon. This has reduced public interest in space flight.
Space tourism will enable this interest to increase with resulting business (Webber, 2013). The four important aspects that make space tourism a major activity are: It can be an end in itself, it is a way to realize further space ends, it may facilitate other activities done in space and finally, it clearly expresses what our society stands for (Rogers, 2000). On the other hand Hollingham (2014) indicated space tourism may lead to newer, quicker nd cheaper air transport enabled by hypersonic planes that allow to travel long distances quickly and this will transform humanity and lead to a new way of viewing our planet. . DEVELOPMENT OF SPACE TOURISM i. Rocketry and Rocket planes In 1 903 K. Tsiolkovsky developed the first rocket equations and almost sixty years after in April 1961 Y. Gagarine made the first trip into space in the spaceship Vostok (Webber, 2013). Later, developments in that field allowed the development of commercial space in terms of satellite telecommunication launch and a new set of parallel activities were created to support this new usiness such as space insurers, bankers, consultants which made easier the introduction of space tourism.
Currently, Russian Soyuz launcher and spacecraft is used in trip to and from the ISS (International Space Station). From 1 990 to 2009, Soyuz carried not only its crew but also nine commercial space travellers (tourists) the first being Toyohiro Akiyama in 1990 and the last is Guy Laliberte in 2009 (Webber, 2013). Space tourism trips aboard Soyuz are organized by Space Adventures a company based in the USA (Moscow- Times, 2014). The flight tickets price has increased from USD 20 and 60 million from 2001 to 2009.
But in 2009 due to increased number of crew space tourism trips were stopped and are announced to resume in 201 5 (space. com, 2014) New and less expensive route to space tourism has opened up with the introduction of rocket plane. Since the introduction of the Bell Xl rocket plane in 1947 breaking the sound barrier, SpaceShipOne became in 2004 the first private space plane to transport passengers and won the Ansari X prize. SpaceSh ipOne was removed from service immediately after winning the prize.
This new developments have allowed to make space tourism affordable not yet all but at least to many (Webber, 2013). i. Sub-orbital Sub- orbital space tourism is still in its infancy compared to orbital tourism despite the fact that it is easier to provide. First sub-orbital flights were supposed to start in 2013 but they were postponed as spacecrafts are still under construction. Suborbital flights will allow passengers to experience weightlessness for more or less 6 minutes, see the earth curve and stars and planet closer to earth, all at a fee of $ 250000 per passenger (Space. om, 2014) . Among the spacecrafts to be involved in suborbital flights are SpaceShipTW0 which is operated by Virgin Galactic a company founded by Sir Richard Branson. SpaceshipTwo has a carrying capacity of 6 passengers and 2 pilots and as SpaceShipOne it has a mother plane that carries it and allows its launch from air which allows it to exceed 100 km of altitude (Webber, 2013). According to Space. com (2014) currently more than 600 rich and famous people have booked a trip with Virgin Galactic and its first suborbital flights are expected to start in end 2014 or 2015.
Other flights may be offered by the team from XCOR using a very architecturally different rocket plane called Lynx. It does not require a mother plane as it will be using its own rocket ngine from the start to the end of the flight but may not reach 100 km of altitude. It will carry two passengers and its fee is expected to be $90000 and its first flights are expected toward the end Of 2014 (Hollingham, 2014) iii. Orbital The Soyuz spacecraft has been used to carry all commercial space flights.
It is based in Baikonour (Kazakhstan) where it is launched. It is the most reliable spaceship despite its small size which allows it to carry only 3 persons. In 2009, due to its limited flight and seats it stopped its commercial flights which are expected to resume in October 201 5 whereby Sarah Brightman a British inger is expected to be the next space tourist to travel to the ISS (Moscow- Times, 2014) . Soyuz tourism space monopoly may be challenged by the Dragon spacecraft which was developed by a US based space transport company Space X.
In 2010, it was the first commercial spacecraft to be recovered from orbit and in 2012 it became again the first commercial spacecraft to attach successfully to the ISS and from 2012 it continues regular flights to ISS carrying cargo. Its manned variant Dragon V2 is still under construction and will be able to carry up to 7 persons and may be operational in the near future (Kramer, 2014). Other potential competitors include Bigelow Aerospace which is conducting experiment of the Sundancer habitat a potential space hotel which may be used as an independent habitat from the ISS.
Bigelow Aerospace has currently positioned 2 prototypes into space and is ahead among all competitors to Soyuz as it is waiting the next space tourists in its space hotel. According to Space. com (2014); Bigelow Aerospace has announced that it will launch the first inflatable room into space in 2015. The BEAM (Bigelow Expandable Activity Module) will serve as room for ISS astronauts and will be carried to ISS by the Space X’s Dragon cargo (Howell, 2014). Market for Space tourism (Crouch, 2001 points out that there are very limited reseach in the field of potential market for space tourism. He adds that for space tourism to suceed there is a need to carry out research on space tourism market in term of its growth potential, size, shape and marketing strategies. A research conducted by Futron, (2002) shows that despite the current high prices for orbital and suborbital flights many people are willing to join. Futron predict over more than 1 5000 passengers flying annually and generating more than USD700 million per year by 2021.
Futron, (2002) reports that the potential space ourist have an average age above 50, he is male, is fit above average, according to Wolfe, (2014) any person above 18 may take the trip despite any diseases or health problems provided they take necessary precautions. Space. com (2005) points out that many experts in marketing have a problem to carry a space tourism market research since this is new industry with no history and no past customer behaviour. But the most important factors of customer satisfaction and value for money as experts indicate include safety, location of launch, type of vehicle, duration of trip and weightlessness.
Space. om (2005) adds that though the feasibility of space tourism is admitted, its commercialization and viability is still yet to materialize as it depends on a limited number of people who can afford and are willing to pay the high ticket price. 5. CHALLENGES OF SPACE TOURISM Space. com, 2014 indicates, that many experts in space tourism agree that though major development are taking place, we should be cautious as progress in this new industry will not be determined through new inventions but through assiduous work by teams of skilled experts.
They expect the process of research and development to be long and very costly. Further. Space. com (2014) indicates that currently there are only two reusable spacecrafts capable of transporting human into space: Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo and Space X’s Falcon 9/Dragon and all of them are still under test. Since 2004 when SpaceshipOne was launched, many expected a quick development of space tourism but as Space. com (2014) shows it, many problems followed and expert agree that most of challenges are technical especially for Virgin Galactic and while for the XCOR has been delayed by issues related to funds.
Most experts in the field agree that 2014 is going to a ajor year in space tourism and for Virgin Galactic and XCOR. In case of more problems and delays in these projects questions will start to be asked on the viability of space tourism. Further, Crouch, 2001 wonders why it is taking too long for space tourism to become reality, the answer is that for spaceship to succeed there is a need for many players to join hands. These are the government and regulators, various industries (finance, insurance, aviation, engineering etc. and most importantly convincing the capital market since most setbacks are related to lack of funding than in design and technology. . CONCLUSION As indicated in by this work, a new page of space tourism is about to be opened, one that will see the development of cheaper, quicker spacecraft that will carry ordinary citizen to space and give them not only a view of the world from space but also enable them to have a new sight and understanding of our planet.