Michelle Basch, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - For your next vacation, how about trading in your bathing suit for a space suit?
"To date, space tourism has been limited to a very elite few," says Patrick Tucker with the Bethesda-based World Future Society.
Tucker says that's about to change.
"Next year, Virgin Galactic is scheduled to begin sub-orbital passenger flights," Tucker says, adding that there also are plans for sub-orbital hotel.
Virgin Galactic's flights will cost $200,000 each.
Another company called Space Adventures, headquartered in Vienna, Va., plans to offer similar flights for nearly half that price: $102,000 per passenger.
A sub-orbital spaceflight will take you about 62 miles up, the altitude where space is conventionally considered to begin. It will give you a spectacular view of the curvature of the earth along with the darkness of space.
You can see a demonstration of the flights on Space Adventures' website.
"Futron/Zogby estimates that by the year 2021, there will be 13,000 sub-orbital passengers annually. Just tourists going into space and hanging out in space for fun. And that will result in $650 million in annual revenue," Tucker says.
Significant growth of space tourism is one of the World Future Society's top 10 forecasts for 2012 and beyond.
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