No longer the realms of science fiction, day trips into space, being weightless and holidays in hotels orbiting the earth are set for lift-off. UK-based RocketBreaks has finally opened its waiting lists for people wanting to get into space tourism.
The demand in space tourism, even with astronomical price tags, is set to be big business. To find out more, Sabi Phagura caught up with RocketBreaks founders Barry Shanks and David Doughty, who have more than 18 years of experience in the private jet and helicopter industry.
Luxurious Magazine: With the interest in space travel continuing to rise, it’s surprising a space tourism agency hasn’t already been launched. What does it feel like to be Europe’s first tourism agency that can send people up into space?
Rocketbreaks: It’s very exciting; suborbital space travel has changed how we look at space. We are in the infancy of space tourism, but with 18 years of experience dealing with UHNWI with private travel, Space is just another destination.
LM: Once the realms of science fiction, why do you think space tourism is so popular and becoming a big business?
RB: Put simply, it’s about big boys and their toys! It’s about being one of the first or receiving a hero’s welcome upon landing. Anything aimed at the elite will create massive interest. With the development of being able to reuse spacecraft, the price to fly will also come down massively, which will increase popularity.
LM: How safe is space travel compared to, say, normal flying?
RB: There is a risk with anything, and again I think that is the appeal for many people. There are plenty of options already available depending on what you want to do. Space X will be a traditional rocket take off for passengers, whereas with Virgin Galactic, the first stage you just take off mounted under a typical aircraft. Space Perspective will take you up in a capsule mounted under what is basically a hot air balloon for a six-hour sightseeing trip.
The options will be varied from a 12-day break in space to just a few hours on the edge of space. Once we start seeing safe, successful missions’ confidence will grow. As with a lot of travel, it still has regulations, and you must be granted a license in order to perform these flights.
LM: What measures did the agency have to take in coordinating flights, accommodation and meals for space travel?
RB: We are at a very early stage at the moment with the first ‘manned’ test flights from Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, so it isn’t as far advanced yet, but when it is, we can tailor-make any aspect of the package. With so many years in the travel business, providing a bespoke service for clients, there is nothing we haven’t had to arrange.
LM: Talk us through the services and packages on offer to prospective travellers, including hotel accommodation and food.
RB: Depending on your location and take off destination, we can provide private jets, helicopters and chauffeurs to begin your space travel adventure. We offer a door to launch site service from accommodation close to the spacecraft for before and after your space flight. But of course, it all depends on your budget and the type of space travel you require. We have several agreements in place with the most popular operators of space travel, and we hope to announce these very soon.
LM: Now, travelling to space is not a case up of turning up and taking your seat. Tell us about the preparations people will need to go through and why they will need to join one of the training centres in partnership with RocketBreaks?
RB: Depending on what you choose to do will depend on how much training you will need. Space Adventures, a US company, has been arranging training in Star city Russian since 2000. If you’re planning 12 days in space, you will need to do the same rigorous training as any other Astronaut.
Your body and mind will be pushed to their limits; training will include a Zero-G “vomit comet” plane. Whatever space trip you do – even the shorter ones – you will need to be physically fit.
LM: Some of the world’s most recognisable names are at the forefront of the space travel business and eager to get on board. Can you name a few?
RB: Elon Musk is behind Space X. Sir Richard Branson owns Virgin Galactic, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is behind Blue Origin. Finally, there is Jane Poynter, who is the founder of Space Perspective. In 2018, data showed that 72 different countries have space agencies and that 41 different nationalities have been in space. These agencies have realised that space tourists can help fund space exploration.
LM: We understand a spare seat on the first Blue Origin flight with passengers was auctioned off for $28m. Exactly what is the lure for people, and how many people bid for this seat?
RB: More than 7,600 people from 159 countries bid on the seat so they could be amongst the first. I think people were looking at it as an investment, selling advertising, their story, or streaming live to their Youtube channels etc.
It was worth paying it for that. In terms of the wider impact, a 2010 report from the Federal Aviation Administration in the US predicts that in 20 years (so 2030), space tourism will be a multibillion-dollar business. There are 2,755 billionaires and over 56 million millionaires across the world, with almost 22 million in the US alone.
LM: Tell us how the Rocketbreaks’ register of interest’ waiting list for future space tourists works and how much will it set you back?
RB: How much it will cost depends on the type of space travel. Sub Orbital (achieving weightlessness and going up and back in an hour) is estimated to be set at around £250,000, whilst an orbital mission can cost anything in the region of £25 million.
We haven’t opened our interest register yet but have been overwhelmed with emails and requests from people contacting us. We hope to launch the register in September now the trials from Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic have been completed safely. It’s a very exciting time.
RocketBreaks – Where and How?
For further information about space tourism with RocketBreaks, visit www.rocketbreaks.com.
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