Boeing announced today that it will be entering the surprisingly competitive space tourism market as soon as possible, thanks to a partnership with Space Adventures. Space Adventures is one of the premier space tourism companies out there--they've sent seven tourists on eight different missions aboard the Russian-built and -operated Soyuz spacecraft.
"Tourist" is probably a misleading word here. Anyone that goes into space, whether they've paid tens of millions of dollars or not, requires extensive training. For Space Adventures, that means months of hardcore physical and intellectual training. These space tourists even have to learn to speak Russian--that's the language of the guides and pilots, so it's a must.
Boeing would of course conduct their trainings in English, but that's not the only draw. The Obama Administration's main theme for the space program has been a new push towards privatization, as well as opening up the field to amateurs or tourists (and all that sweet amateur money). Another company, SpaceX, has already secured some public grants for its own travels.
Boeing's trip would be a low Earth orbit, and will be competitive in pricing with other, similar schemes. To give you an idea, the last person to use Space Adventures was Guy Laliberte, the French-Canadian founder of Cirque du Soleil, who paid $35 million for the privilege.
The craft in question has actually not been built yet, though it is fully designed. The CST-100 is a round-bottomed, pointed-top capsule sort of similar looking to those used in the Apollo missions. Boeing hopes to have the seven-seat CST-100 ready for launch by 2015.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com