This query jogs my memory of an episode of The Simpsons. Frustrated by the dearth of public enthusiasm for the US house program, NASA decides to drum up assist by sending “the average person”—Homer—into house. The stunt ends in close to catastrophe when Homer’s antics (starting with smuggling a bag of potato chips into the capsule) destroy the navigation tools, virtually killing himself and the crew.
The common individual is more clever than Homer, however the episode (which first aired in 1994, and options Buzz Aldrin as a visitor star) truly raises some points that also resonate right this moment. Spaceflight nonetheless isn’t an endeavor the common individual may very well be anticipated to deal with with out rigorous coaching. It’s not like taking a flight throughout the globe. There are intense bodily rigors concerned in driving a rocket into orbit and residing in microgravity for more than a number of days. There’s the psychological toll of residing and dealing in such a small house for therefore lengthy. Emergencies can prop up at any second, requiring a really calm disposition even when your life and your crewmates’ lives are at stake. That’s why astronauts practice for years earlier than they really fly into house.
The different situation is cash. It’s nonetheless actually, actually, actually costly to ship people into house, and people who aren’t bankrolled by a authorities or a rich firm should pay their very own manner. When SpaceX launches its mission across the moon in 2023, the six to eight passengers scheduled to go will embrace Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. It’s not clear how a lot he’s paying for the journey, however one has to imagine it’s more than most of us may ever dream of creating in our lifetimes. NASA needs to supply alternatives for vacationers and personal residents to go to the International Space Station, and it will solely cost $35,000 an evening to pay for meals and life assist. But that’s not taking into account launch prices for a seat aboard the capsule that truly goes to the ISS (which may very well be as much as $52 million).
That doesn’t imply house will at all times be closed off to the common individual. Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin wish to provide suborbital flights that may take people into house for a couple of minutes and permit them to expertise weightlessness and get a view of Earth from excessive above. The coaching for these missions is much from intense, and anybody who’s wholesome ought to be capable of go. Virgin Galactic flight reservations are $250,000. Elon Musk has stated his eventual purpose is for a one-way ticket to Mars aboard Starship to price about the identical, however that’s many years down the street. Space won’t ever be low-cost, however it can get cheaper.