Space Travel is the New Vacation for the Super Wealthy

Mandatory Credit: Photo by ABACA/Shutterstock (13071574b)EDITORIAL USE ONLY - HANDOUT - Photo undated of Virgin Galactic Spaceship Cabin Interior.
ABACA / Shutterstock.com

Where do you expect to bump into your favorite billionaires and Hollywood superstars when you vacation this year? The British Virgin Islands, Bora Bora, Aspen? How about the French delights of Cote d’Azur? No, when it comes to exclusive destinations for the rich and famous — space is now the place.

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For well-heeled travelers, space isn’t the final frontier, it’s just the next frontier. Since July 2021, when Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic became the first crewed passenger spaceflight, the possibility of traveling to this dream destination became very real for the very wealthy.

“Just imagine a world where people of all ages, all backgrounds, from anywhere, of any gender, of any ethnicity, have equal access to space,” Branson said after touchdown, per TechCrunch. “Welcome to the dawn of a new space age!”

Space Travel Remains Extremely Expensive

But it will be quite some time until people of all backgrounds get the chance to ride into space. Branson’s Virgin Galactic began taking $150,000 deposits for a $450,000, 90-minute space romp in February of this year. As The Street reports, over 8,000 people reserved a space just days after the announcement.  

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As The Washington Post reported last year, a week-long trip to the International Space Station has a price tag of around $55 million. The Houston-based Axiom Space — which arranges training as well as all flight preparation and expenses — said that it had booked four flights aboard Elon Musk’s SpaceX vessel Crew Dragon to take place over the next few years.

Musk is heavily invested in its passenger space travel program, so much so that he intends on operating 1,000 starships by 2050, according to Science Focus. On August 4, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin announced it had just completed its sixth human spaceflight and 22nd New Shepard program space mission.

Space Tourism A Long-Term Growth Industry, Experts Suggest

In an investor statement last May, Canaccord Genuity’s Ken Herbert and Austin Moeller marked Virgin Galactic Holdings as a “buy,” believing in the long-term prosperity of space tourism and predicting the market could be worth $8 billion by 2030.

“We believe that the life-changing experience and value proposition of traveling to the edge of the cosmos is like no other,” the Washington Post quoted Herbert and Moeller as saying. “And there are likely many single-digit millionaires who would be willing to contribute a sizable portion of their assets to partake in a once-in-a-lifetime space odyssey.”

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Other agencies are enthusiastic about the equal opportunity potential for civilians that space travel may eventually provide, too. Although it was previously reticent to open its services and support to passenger space travel after the tragic events surrounding the 1986 Challenger disaster, NASA now seems to be fully on board.

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As reported by The Washington Post last year, Kathy Lueders, head of NASA’s office of human spaceflight, shared a passion not unlike Branson’s for the future of accessible passenger space travel.   

“That’s the dream, right?” Lueders stated at a press briefing at the time. “That space isn’t just for NASA anymore, and I think that’s what we’re trying to do. Our goal is really to be able to give access to as many folks in space as much as possible, so it’s kind of opening up opportunities for all of us.”

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About the Author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to change careers in 2016 and concentrate full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical communication diploma and holds previous university degrees in journalism, sociology and criminology. David has covered a wide variety of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience copywriting for the retail industry.
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