Space Tourism Ticket Prices Could Drop

HOUSTON, Oct. 25 (UPI) — Two space tourism companies say the price for a trip into space could drop from millions of dollars down to hundreds of thousands by late 2011.

A brief trip into space featuring a few minutes of weightlessness and a view of the earth 62 miles below could be within reach of the merely well-off and not just the mega-rich, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday.

“Now, the sky is no longer the limit,” said Richard Branson, whose Virgin Group is one the companies planning to offer commercial suborbital missions late next year. “We will begin the process of pushing beyond to the final frontier of space itself.”

Space Adventures, the Vienna, Va.-based company that brokered the flights of seven space tourists to the International Space Station between 2001 and 2009, also plans to offer suborbital tourist flights.

Both companies are expected to offer tickets at between $100,000 and $200,000, still a steep price for a flight lasting a few minutes.

“There’s no magic wand out there to wave and reduce the cost of space access by a factor of 10 or 100,” said Jeff Foust, a space industry analyst for the Futron Corp.

The big hope in space tourism, he said, is that once suborbital flights grow in demand ticket prices will drop.

“It’s not going to be something where it’s a $99 deal with Southwest,” Foust said. “Relative to commercial air travel it will still be expensive. But people spend tens of thousands of dollars to climb Everest, visit Antarctica or go on African safaris. This price will attract adventure tourists.”

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