Travel of the Future: Moon Tourism
Hi guys! I’m starting a new weekly feature: 5 Facts. Every Friday I plan to post 5 intriguing facts about a travel-related topic. I think it will be a great way for me to do a little bit of fun internet research on the side (read: getting lost in the bottomless depths of Wikipedia) and I hope it will provide some extra entertaining content for you. Today’s very first topic is: Moon tourism!
Moon tourism or lunar tourism is the envisaged commercial industry by non-governmental companies to offer trips to the Earth’s Moon. Humans have landed on the Moon 6 times before, but never for purely recreational purposes. This is all about to change in the near future. Interested in pre-ordering a return ticket? Here are 5 more facts about Moon tourism:
1. Moon Tourism Predictions: 2020-2043
Current estimations of realistic Moon Tourism by leading space entrepreneurs point to as early as 2020 for the start of private commercial spaceflights (we shall see). Spaceflight company Virgin Galactic aims to double the number of people who have been into space by offering weekly flights to the Moon by 2043.
2. Space Tourism Startup Companies
The nearing possibility of sending regular citizens on tourist trips the Moon has sparked startups of many private spaceflight companies in recent years. This list of companies includes: Golden Spike Company (USA), Space Adventures (USA), Excalibur Almaz (UK), and Virgin Galactic (USA). Another company that may be able to provide Moon tourism is SpaceX (USA), which was initially formed to enable the colonisation of Mars.
3. Ticket Price
The spaceflight company Space Adventures Ltd. have estimated their price for a circumlunar mission to the Moon (trip around the Moon). The total would be around $100,000,000 per passenger. Currently, both Excalibur Almaz and Space Adventures are already charging $150 million per seat. This fee includes months of training. There is a catch: these 750,000 km flights will only fly-by missions and do not involve actually landing on the Moon. In 2013, the Golden Spike Company named the price of $750 million per seat for future lunar landing tourism, or $1.5 billion for a two person mission. NASA’s own costs of sending one astronaut to space (one seat) was about $51 million in 2010.
4. ETA: Estimated Time of Arrival
It is not completely clear how long a commercial flight to the Moon would take. Apollo missions all took about three days (72 hours). The quickest trip to the Moon ever was performed by the New Horizons probe, which only took 8 hours and 35 minutes. However, the probe only passed the Moon on its way to Pluto and never slowed down to approach the lunar orbit.
There are several possible tourist attractions on the Moon, though the idea of being in outer space is probably attractive enough. One possible attraction could be to finally see the rugged and crater-filled dark side of the Moon, which is the side that always faces away from Earth. Another cool view could be that of the Earth rising and setting (earthrise and earthset) against the lunar sky. Remaining attractions include commemorative objects like plaques and flags, and several rovers. One of those rovers would be China’s Yutu, which set the record for longest operational period for a rover on the Moon in October 2015.