Space tourism will open doors for amateurs

Crossing the 100-kilometer boundary of outer space is hard enough - tours of alien worlds will have to wait. Credit: Nasa/JPL-Caltech

Space entrepreneurs and pundits have been promising a bold future of space tourism for the past decade. A wave of recent articles documents the slow progress space startups are making towards that future:


What does it mean for amateurs? You wouldn’t think it would mean much for the 99% of us who can’t afford the ticket prices these companies will charge. And yet if these companies can actually deliver on their vision, they will create new opportunities for amateur space exploration. Amateur and student projects will ride into space right along with the professional research. It’s already happening on a different scale through programs like these:

Nasa sponsors the Celere program at Portland State University. Student experiments briefly experience weightlessness as they fall through the Dryden Drop Tower. And the pretty lights! Credit: Portland State University

Virgin Galactic, XCor Aerospace, Blue Origin, World View, Zero2Infinity, and similar space startups are chasing the same markets. They will cut prices as they compete with each other for business from the same scientists and wealthy adventure tourists. They will also look for new markets like the schools and amateur scientists. 

Several companies are already getting ready. Nastar Center, Sirius, and Astronauts 4 Hire offer training programs for the researchers and tourists who will take suborbital hops into space. Citizens in Space conducts workshops to teach makers and educators how to build experiments that will fly into spaceTeachers in Space will even do exactly what’s on the label - send teachers on suborbital flights to support science in schools.

It's just a matter of time before these new space startups are in business. That's when the doors will open for amateurs of all ages to explore the extreme environment of space - no spacesuit required.

If you like what you’ve read, why not make a contribution of your own? Give me feedback on the articles you’ve read or suggest amateur projects that deserve promotion. Every little bit helps - thanks!