Space companies SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are racing to offer the first orbital flights off-planet for those with the capital to afford the hefty pricetags. But as space tourism becomes a booming industry of its own and more people fly into orbit, odds are spaceflight will become more accessible to all.
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa was announced in 2018 as the first person to fly a SpaceX rocket on a trip around the Moon and back to Earth.
And Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides announced last week the company already has 603 reservations to fly people to the edge of space.
The Virgin Galactic tickets, costing £192,325 ($250,000) per person, offer a steep entry price for anyone wanting to experience an adventure of a lifetime.
But some 14.4 million Britons could be happy to pay the price for more affordable spaceflight, according to a poll conducted by the space nation of Asgardia.
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The poll found that 29 percent of Britons would pay to fly into orbit if the technology was available to the wider public.
According to the poll, a further 18 percent of the UK – about nine million people – could be willing to invest their life savings to briefly become an astronaut.
Asgardia touts itself as the world’s first space-based micro-nation, with territorial claims in low Earth orbit or LEO secured with a satellite launch in 2016.
That same year Asgardia rose to prominence when its founder Dr Igor Ashurbeyli claimed Asgardia will help give birth to the first space child in as little as 25 years.
Dr Ashurbeyli, a Russian-Azeri rocket scientist and businessman, believes the future of humanity rests on our ability to venture into space.
He said: “Asgardia already has more than one million people from 200 countries signed up as citizens. We clearly have a broad appeal.
Later on in the year we’ll re-open those sales
George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic CEO
“Our research from the UK is of course hugely encouraging, and it inspires me to know that there are so many like-minded people who share Asgardia’s vision.
“I have no doubt that these sentiments are shared across the globe.”
According to Asgardia’s website, there are more than one million people around the world who call themselves Asgardians.
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Asgardia also touts more than 1,100 residents – citizens of the space nation who support its work with an annual fee.
Dr Ashurbeyli said: “Each and every Asgardian is important to us. No matter your background, being part of the Asgardian community is about unity and equality.
“Residents and citizens of Asgardians have their role in growing our community and taking part in democratic processes, delivering our vision of a democratised and accessible space.”
Prime Minister of Asgardia Ana Mercedes Diaz also said: “Being a citizen of the nation Asgardia transcends borders and covers various social and cultural groups.
“We are a united community from all four corners of the globe that share the common goal of exploring space.
“As a growing community, we recognise the vast popularity of those seeking to travel space and live out their dreams.”
Although Virgin Galactic is yet to make true on its promise of sending people into space, the company is constructing its signature spacecraft the SpaceShipTwo.
The Richard Branson founded company stopped selling tickets for its service in 2014 after a test flight killed its pilot.
CEO George Whitesides has, however, told CNBC sales will resume later this year.
He said: “Later on in the year we’ll re-open those sales.”
SpaceX is also expanding into the space tourism business with plans to send people to the Moon and Mars.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is also looking to expand his sphere of influence through his space company Blue Origin.
The company said in 2019: “We are targeting our first human flight this year, but we are not in a race to get there.
“We will move through our New Shepard flight test program step by step and fly humans only when we are ready.”
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