What Is Space Tourism?

space-tourism Credit: VICTOR HABBICK VISIONS/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Space tourism is literally what it sounds like: people taking time away from their jobs and everyday lives in order to go visit an interesting destination somewhere outside of the Earth. While space travel was traditionally left to government-trained experts and other professionals, there has been a trend toward the commercialization of space flight during the early 21st century. As more private companies develop space travel technology, the idea of civilian space tourism could become a full blown reality.

As of February 2015, fewer than 10 space tourists have successfully traveled into outer space, each paying more than $10 million for the privilege of being shuttled to locations such as the International Space Station. Private companies are working on research and development to bring the price of space travel down, though it will likely never be very accessible to most of the public.

Space tourism suffered a major setback when a shuttle belonging to Virgin Galactic, a division of the same company that runs Virgin Airlines, crashed during a test flight in 2014, highlighting the inherent danger and risk of space travel.