Space travel is traveling to or traveling in space for recreational, tourism, leisure, business, exploration, colonization, or mining purposes.
A number of startup companies have sprung up in recent years, such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace, hoping to create a sub-orbital space tourism industry.
Orbital space tourism opportunities have been limited and expensive, with only the Russian Space Agency providing transport to date. You get yourself a trip for a cool $100M USD.
Space exploration is another frontier now ready for new beginnings. Just as any sorts of exploration on earth, space exploration is the ongoing discovery and exploration of stars, planets, and other galaxies in the outer space by means of travel, telescope, or radio communication. While the study of space is carried out mainly by astronomers with telescopes, the physical exploration of space will be conducted both by both unmanned robotic probes and human spaceflight.
Human spaceflight is basically space travel with a crew or passengers aboard the spacecraft. The first human spaceflight was launched by the Soviet Union on 12 April 1961 as a part of the Vostok program, with cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin aboard. Humans have been continually present in space for 15 years and 224 days on the International Space Station (ISS).
Since the retirement of the US Space Shuttle in 2011, only Russia and China have maintained human spaceflight capability with the Soyuz program and Shenzhou program. Currently, all expeditions to the International Space Station use Soyuz vehicles, which remain attached to the station to allow a quick return if needed. The United States is developing commercial crew transportation to facilitate domestic access to ISS and low-Earth orbit, as well as the Orion vehicle for beyond low Earth orbit applications.
Space Travel Launch Sites
Below is the list of primary launch sites on the Earth today. I am sure this list will increase in the coming decades.
- Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The rocket launch site of Sputnik 1 and Yuri Gagarin in Kazakhstan, and to this day the main Soyuz launch site. Long strictly off-limits, but now open to limited tourism.
- Huntsville, Alabama, USA. Astronaut training facilities and International Space Station design and construction.
- Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. The site of Space Shuttle launches.
- Houston, Texas, USA. Mission Control for Space Shuttle and International Space Station activities.
- Kourou, French Guiana. The launch site for ESA’s Ariana satellites.
- Mojave, California, USA. The first FAA-certified Spaceport and the home of Scaled Composites’ private spaceflight program.
- Weßling (outside Munich), Germany. The European Space Agency’s Columbus Control Centre is open to the public depending on mission status.
- Star City, Russia. Cosmonaut training facility northeast of Moscow.
- Tanegashima, Japan. Japan’s main launch site. Free exhibits and tours, public viewpoints for launch days.
Resources on Space Travel
Films on Space Travel
Space Tourists (2009 Documentary film)