More than half a century ago, U.S. President John F. Kennedy called the race to space “a great new American enterprise.” Today, private companies are flying reusable vehicles into the atmosphere and beyond. Competing at the forefront of this space race is Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Elon Musk’s SpaceX—both hope to send paying passengers to the near edge of space by 2013. The Federal Aviation Administration and Space Florida, the state agency tasked with promoting interstellar tourism, predict suborbital flights alone could generate up to $1.6 billion in revenue during their first 10 years of operation. And fear not frugal adventurers: the cost to book your own space odyssey, depending on which option you choose, is slowly descending to the earth’s atmosphere.
Illustration by Tod Detwiler