We always read and listen that Earth is round which has also been experimentally and physically proved by many people. It always attracts people to see personally how fascinating it will be to see the curvature of earth. Similarly, many of us might have experienced free fall in our lives but it would be totally different to the experience of weightlessness. Free fall of an object is said to be its falling freely under the action of gravity only i.e., without any external resistance. Such situations can be easily encountered in daily life with swings, seesaw, handola, roller coaster and elevators.
But, weightlessness a condition when we are no more attracted by the gravity (force of attraction due to earth on other bodies) is difficult to achieve on earth. However, centrifuges to simulate microgravity methods on earth are also catching up with time. Thus, to experience the adventures of witnessing curvature of earth and weightlessness, along with other excitements, instead of flying in planes, space travel in space ships well beyond the boundaries of our Earth has always fascinated people. Space tourism is human space travel possible to all for recreational purposes and is going to become a big industry in the times to come. Different types of space tourism include: orbital, suborbital and lunar space tourism. Till date, the orbital space tourism has been performed only by The Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities, Russia (commonly known as Roscommon) and work continues towards developing suborbital space tourism vehicles. This is being done and planned in near future by some world class aerospace companies on commercial basis like: Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic and SpaceX. The first self-funded ‘space tourist’ was US businessman Dennis Tito, who in 2001 spent a week aboard the International Space Station (ISS) for the sum of $20m (£15m). Similarly, a Japanese billionaire Mr.Yusaka Maezawa is endeavouring to be the first civilian to orbit the moon and has signed a partnership with SpaceX to fly on the Big Falcon Rocket and complete the mission by 2023. Space travel at present is already happening if your pockets are deep enough and there is no doubt that in the times to come, space tourism will emerge as a fascinating option of space travel to all. It is expected that in the times to come space travel will not remain a joyride for rich people only as with the manufacturing of more spaceships the cost would come down.
Efforts being carried out in this direction by people like Richard Branson will encourage and motivate other entrepreneurs and industrialists to make a presence in this emerging field of entertainment and excitement. Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson (71 years old) of USA on Sunday (11.07.2021) have made a maiden journey to the edge of space in his Virgin Galactic's passenger rocket plane VSS Unity along with crew members (two pilots and four crewmates) after flying at Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, US. The Virgin Galactic carrier could have launched up to eight people (two pilots and six passengers). After reaching an altitude of about 88 kilometres over the New Mexico desert which was enough to see the curvature of the Earth as well as to experience a few minutes of weightlessness the team made a gliding descent back to Earth. It is heartening to know that one of the crew member was an Indian-American astronaut Ms. Sirisha Bandla. She is a 34-year-old aeronautical engineer, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Purdue University in 2011. She also did her MBA degree from George Washington University in 2015. After, Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, the only Indian citizen to travel in space, Sirisha Bandla has become the third Indian-origin woman to fly into space along with Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams.
Several other companies are actively engaged and competing to launch the first civilians into space and their initiatives are briefly mentioned here.
All such like initial missions provide training opportunities for the space crew and companies. Once civilian space travel starts, they will be guided by professional astronauts and will be traveling to the edge of space for the experience of a lifetime. Civilian space travel may finally become a reality in the times to come, however, there are safety and government requirements to conquer first.