Why do we talk about space tourism more and more often?
The fantasy about space travel is not new. Though after years of stasis, people have rekindled the passion about space for several reasons. Since 2000, roughly 350 private companies related to the space industry have been established, and the growth rate of newly established firms is accelerating rapidly. The number of space companies established per year has more than doubled from 2011 to 2016, and some of them are making huge progress in delivering commercialized services. Companies like SpaceX and Blue origin are constantly iterating rocket technologies and successfully sending people into space.
More importantly, major governments are welcoming private investment into the space industry and are finding more business possibility so that the whole space exploration can be sustainable. Witnessing the booming development of emerging space companies, people can see the possibility of ordinary people going to space one day, which is not only limited to strictly-trained astronauts, despite the current ticket price is not affordable for most people.
How does our society view space tourism?
The UK government’s aim is simple. In the new commercial space age, they want to be the first country in Europe to offer commercial spaceflight services. These services will be carried out safely and responsibly and will bring new jobs and economic benefits to communities and organizations eager to be a part of the rapidly growing UK space sector. The UK Government has awarded grant funding to kick-start commercial activity to achieve launch from the early 2020s, igniting a fast-paced UK spaceflight sector, and inspiring the next generation of space scientists and engineers.
The ISS commercial Space utilization Manager, once explained in NASA’s podcast: "commercial and business trying is critical to their exploration needs, given that ISS will be the last government-driven program, if there isn't other demand for this, ISS is stuck paying for the entire operating cost, other business model in space makes the science exploration tenable."
It is believed that space tourism will eventually become a thriving business, as more and more people will become users, but we have to admit that, at the moment, space tourism is an activity that only a few wealthy people can participate in. It would impact our environment, and it is a stage that commercial spaceflight has to go through in the early days.