Expensive News –
A trip to outer space — for just $95,000
Why settle for another ho-hum cruise around the globe or even an expedition to Mount Everest when a truly out-of-this-world travel experience is at hand? That’s what Netherlands-based Space Expedition Corporation (SXC) is promising — a suborbital journey that will qualify you as an official astronaut, all for the “bargain” price of $95,000. Of course, it’s a deal only in a relative sense — the closest competition is a similar suborbital program being offered by Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic (think Virgin Atlantic airline gone outer space), but that runs $200,000.
Right now, neither company is boarding any actual planes — er, spaceships — since the programs are still in the beta phase. But SXC expects to be launching (literally) by the second half of 2014 and is taking paid reservations for what it says will be a “life-changing experience.” The company notes that its specially designed spacecraft (“powered by four revolutionary rocket engines”) will travel at speeds of more than 2,000 miles per hour, taking passengers to outer space (once you pass the 62-mile altitude mark, you’re indeed considered an astronaut) in less than four minutes.
Along the way, passengers will experience weightlessness and enjoy views that are intended to give new meaning to the term “earth-shattering.” Says SXC Chief Executive Michiel Mol: “To be up there in the blackness of space, looking down at seven billion people, it makes you an ambassador of Earth itself.” Oh, and travelers will be back in time for dinner, too: The total trip is slated to run about an hour, which works out to a mere cost of around $1,600 per minute.
But even if SXC makes it to market, experts still warn that going on a suborbital sightseeing trip carries plenty of risk, since the spacecraft must fly at much faster speeds than your average commercial airliner. Just consider the fact that NASA saw two shuttle disasters over just a 30-year period. In other words, even if you can afford the flight, can you afford to take such a chancy vacation? As Scott Pace, director of George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute, says: Space flight “is inherently more dangerous than backpacking.”