Science | July 25, 2019 11:06 am

A New Era of Space Travel Is Upon Us, but Only for the Very Wealthy

Outer space may be the new exclusive vacation destination for the ultra-wealthy

Space Travel
You don't need to be an astronaut to go to space anymore. You just need millions of dollars.
STR/AFP/Getty Images

Space travel used to be limited to highly trained astronauts, but the new “space race” led by some of the world’s top billionaires plans to open up the extraterrestrial world to the rest of us — kind of. Today, you don’t have to be a scientist to see outer space. You just need to have millions of dollars.

According to CNN Business, it will probably be a long time before your average joe gets to see outer space. When space travel first becomes accessible to regular people, it will be largely limited to regular millionaires.

Currently, a stay on the International Space Station costs tens of millions of dollars, and so far only seven ultra-wealthy one-percenters have taken up a group called Space Adventures on its offer to fly mega-rich space enthusiasts to the station on Russian-built rockets.

Right now, the cheapest space travel in the works for the public will still be prohibitively expensive for most people who fall too far outside the one-percent. The Richard Branson-owned Virgin Galactic plans to offer 90-minute rides into the upper atmosphere for around $200,000. Naturally, even this more economically priced option for space travel has attracted only the world’s wealthiest. Galactic has publicly disclosed that of the 600 people who have signed up for rides, most have net worths over $10 million, while a third are worth at least twice that.

According to CNN Business, however, some analysts are confident that space travel prices will eventually decline, comparing the steep early prices to any other technological advancements throughout history that eventually became commonplace.

“The price point is high, but that’s just like any other early adopter,” said Ann Kim, managing director of frontier tech at Silicon Valley Bank. “It will come down.”

Still, it will probably be a few generations before your average American family is booking a summer getaway to outer space.

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