People, Travel

Space Tourism Gains Steam

Space Tourism Gains SteamSpace Tourism Gains Steam

Space tourism may be closer than you think. Nevada-based startup Bigelow Aerospace is teaming up with United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Boeing, to send space stations into space.

The initial launch is slated for 2020, according to the press release, and will orbit more than 200 miles (321 kilometers) above the Earth, Tech Insider reported.

The habitat, dubbed B330, will house zero-gravity researchers and could serve as a craft for missions heading to the moon or Mars. But it also has “potential as a destination for space tourism,” according to the press release.

The craft provides 12,000 cubic-feet (340 cubic meters) of space. To put that into perspective, the International Space Station has about 32,000 cubic square feet (906 cubic meters) of space and is more than a $100 billion project. Bigelow Aerospace has not disclosed how much its space stations will cost.

“This innovative and game-changing advance will dramatically increase opportunities for space research in fields like materials, medicine, and biology,” Tory Bruno, president and CEO of the United Launch Alliance, said in a press statement. “And it enables destinations in space for countries, corporations, and even individuals far beyond what is available today, effectively democratizing space.”

Robert Bigelow, founder and president of Bigelow Aerospace, said in the statement that they are currently in discussion with NASA on attaching the habitat to the International Space Station, increasing its volume while also supporting NASA’s exploration goals.

Regardless if that works out, transportation to the B330 will be provided by rockets and spacecraft built by companies like SpaceX and Boeing.

If B330 is effective, Bigelow Aerospace and United Launch Alliance plan to deploy other habitats to different locations, like the moon and Mars.