This week, we're checking back in with two pioneers in space travel: super successful businesswoman Anousheh Ansari, the first woman space tourist, and longtime space-enthusiast Lina Borozdina, who holds one of the first tickets for one of the first sub-orbital commercial flights.
We're returning to their stories because commercial space travel is a high stakes proposition — one that has become even riskier and more expensive in the months since we originally spoke with them. Just two days after our emotional conference call last year, Sir Richard Branson's space travel company Virgin Galactic suffered a pretty huge setback. The SpaceShipTwo was doing a routine test flight when the aircraft dropped, falling back to Earth over the Mojave Desert and breaking into pieces. Only one pilot made it out alive. The NTSB report into exactly what happened is expected later this summer.
Then, last week, Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon 9 unmanned rocket loaded with supplies for the International Space Station exploded back down to Earth.
Few doubt that there will be more failures and tragedies. In the meantime, the rest of us — these two women especially — have to evaluate how we feel about the costs of venturing into outer space for leisure travel.
In this episode, hear them explain the powerful lure of space. And hear Anousheh explain the life-altering joy of seeing earth from above, tears of joy floating past the window. It's pretty powerful stuff.
Knowing what we know, would you do it?
If you're in their camp... the big name space travel companies are:
- Virgin Galactic: You can still apply for a ticket. It'll cost you $250,000.
- Space Adventures: Eventually, they say customers will be able to go into sub-orbit, fly around the moon, and even visit the International Space Station.
- Blue Origin: Jeff Bezos's company isn't taking reservations yet, but they're planning on taking six or seven land-lubbing tourists up "past the internationally recognized edge of space" at a time.
- XCOR: The first set of tourists traveling with XCOR pay $100,000 to go 100+ kilometers up.
Special thanks this week to producer Jackie Snow.