SpaceX Joins the Space Tourism Industry

What It Means that SpaceX has Entered the Space Tourism Industry

Space Tourism

For what is arguably the first time, the internet lit up today about space tourism. After teasing an announcement on Twitter yesterday…

…there was loads of speculation. What could it be? Next gen flight tests? New launch sites? A satellite fleet? (Source: Space.com)

Then, in unsurprising fashion, Musk dropped a second tweet today on the heels of a livestream announcement and blog post on the SpaceX blog:

The internet promptly blew up and geeked out – just like that, SpaceX has gone from being the industry leader on the path to Mars to being the latest company to enter the space tourism race.

I’ve been wary of saying SpaceX was a space tourism company—even going so far as to say it wasn’t in a recent piece for The Establishment — but now I must change my tune. SpaceX is in this space tourism thing we’ve all been so pumped about.

What does this mean for space tourism? Good things, my friends. Very good things. From a tourism perspective, here’s what it means that SpaceX is now a major player in the space tourism industry. 

SpaceX Joins the Space Tourism Industry
Photo credit: SpaceX

The Timetable will Step Up Across the Industry

In general, Space X will help make all of the predictions I forecast earlier this year a reality. By aggressively committing to a year when they will deliver the requested service to their customers, SpaceX is committing to all the steps in between now and that day — and there are a lot of them.

Competitors will begin (or continue) manned test flights this year in an attempt to keep up (or ahead) of SpaceX as much as they can. I can now confidently say: by 2018, space tourism is going to be very close to a common occurrence. We’ll know for sure once they nail down the dates of this moon mission more specifically.

Prices are Guaranteed to Fall

I called this one too, before knowing SpaceX would enter the market. Now, falling prices are a certainty. Maybe not within 2017 – but by the end of the 2010s, we’ll be able to discuss space tourism more realistically for people in the 2020s.

What SpaceX brings into space tourism (that it has been sorely lacking) is a proven commitment to reusable launch technology. I won’t deny that Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are also on this path, but the frequency at which SpaceX launches and re-launches rockets is almost unreal. When you can cut the cost of the launch as much as they have (and will do), the majority of what comprises a ticket price will fall.

Access to Space will Happen Rapidly

One of the biggest arguments I hear from people who think space is beyond reach in our lifetime is the price. As I’ve already mention, that’s going to come down at a much more significant rate than we could have predicted before SpaceX started offering space tourism services.

Along with falling prices, we’ll see more people reserving spots to travel to space. I predict this will happen across the board as space tourism provider prices come down; it may stagnate some as even SpaceX takes advantage of the super-rich and their ability to help financially insulate the company for years to come. 

SpaceX Joins the Space Tourism Industry
Photo credit: SpaceX

New Destinations are Within Reach

In early 2015, I half-jokingly asked people what activity would you like to do in space (spelunking on the moon, earth-gazing, exploring Mars, etc.)? People thought I was joking that not only would they get to go to space — they’d get to choose what to do once there.

Up until this point, space tourism has been almost exclusively focused on Low Earth Orbit. Every other player within space tourism has been talking about the relatively easy task of getting people to LEO and back… something we do all the time with astronauts and the ISS.

SpaceX, like they (and Musk) have always done, comes out and sets the bar higher. 2,413 times higher, to be precise. LEO is the beginning of the list when it comes to space tourism now.

Is SpaceX a game changer for space tourism?