Space tourism is becoming a buzzword as the industry picks up steam. What’s interesting is that most people probably don’t know too much about the history of private space travel. If you were to survey one-hundred people and ask if we have launched ordinary citizens (not Astronauts or cosmonauts) into space, the majority would probably respond with a blank look, a “not yet” or possibly a reference to a classic Simpsons episode where Homer went to space. In reality there have been several space tourists going back further than you might expect.
In 2009 Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte took a ride to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft at a ticket price reported to be around $35 Million. As we talk about the growing space tourism industry, it’s interesting to thank that Guy Laliberte made his trip an entire decade ago. What’s more interesting is that he was not the first, but the seventh private citizen to go to space as a paying customer.
While there have been a handful of people who paid their way into space travel, the first was nearly a decade prior to Guy Laliberte’s voyage. On April 28, 2001 American businessman Dennis Tito officially became the first space tourist at a reported $20 Million ticket price. At the time, his presence aboard the space station was controversial and NASA expressed concern over an untrained passenger being part of a mission. Ultimately, Tito was able to fulfil his dream of traveling through space and became a pioneer in the space tourism industry paving the way for others like Guy Laliberte.
As space tourism continues to grow, more and more people will take advantage of the opportunity. Will you be next?