A HOLIDAY on the moon may be beyond the pocket of the average reader, but affordable space travel is gradually being developed and a taste of space can now be bought for as little as a few thousand euros.
There have already been three space tourists sent to the International Space Station and another is in training for a trip. These intrepid travellers pay up to 20 million euros to experience space and have to undergo standard cosmonaut training at the most basic level. But the ultimate space tourist package currently available comes with a 100 million euro price tag – a trip around the dark side of the moon. Anyone opting for this holiday of a lifetime has to spend two years in training, and then they will fly together with a professional cosmonaut around the back of the moon and back to the earth.
There are around 30 companies worldwide working on space travel projects, including Bigelow Aerospace, which is developing a space hotel development that the company expects to be operational by 2010. Because rockets cannot hold wide cargo, the hotel concept involves an inflatable module that expands once it reaches space. Nasa originally developed the technology but the space agency scrapped the idea and Bigelow bought up the rights. The company plans to send the prototype module into space in 2006 and study it in orbit for a few years. Bigelow then has plans to equip hotel modules with engines and send them around the moon.
But for those without millions in the bank, the experience can be simulated for as little as a few thousand dollars. A company in Florida is offering parabolic flights to experience zero gravity for around 30 seconds. Experts predict that in a few years’ time, sub orbital trips will fly out up to 100kms – enough to let people experience several minutes of zero gravity and view the curvature of the earth. So, start saving now for a holiday that is literally out of this world!