After a decade or more of talking about it and countless delays, tourism seems to be finally taking off. This year we have seen Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos steal the headlines as they blasted off into space. Space tourism is set to grow with the aim of bringing down the cost of space travel and helping humanity explore the cosmos.

These tours can cost from the 100s of thousands of dollars to 100 million dollars. There are multiple private companies leading the charge into space tourism - including Virgin Galactic, Origin Blue, and SpaceX. And then there are government organizations like the Russia Soyuz and NASA. See here for what to know about The U.S. Space & Rocket Center In Alabama - one of America's best space museums.

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Virgin Galactic

Kicking off the flurry of headlines this year was Virgin Galactic. While Richard Branson had hopes to have had a maiden spaceflight by 2010, this was delayed for more than 10 years - mostly by the VSS Enterprise crashing.

On 11 July 2021 Richard Branson and three other employees rode into outer space for the time. The first regular paid space tourists are set to begin their space joyrides in 2022.

  • Spaceplane: VSS Unity
  • Cost: $250,000
  • Outer Space: Defined By NASA as 50 Miles Above Earth

Blue Origin

Blue Origin has developed the New Shepard - a reusable suborbital launch system designed for short-duration space tourism. On the 20th of July, 2021 their rocket successfully launched four passengers to an altitude of 107 km or 66 miles (with Jeff Bezos on board). This was on their New Shepard rocket and the flight was around 10 minutes and cross the Karman Line.

  • Karmon Line: One of The Definitions Of The Boundary Of Earth's Atmosphere And Outer Space
  • Number Of Passengers: Max 6 Passengers

Still, despite their successful crewed mission with Jeff Bezos, they had not yet begun commercial passenger flights or said when they will start.

But like their arch-rivals over at SpaceX, they plan to do more than suborbital spaceflights. They plan to build a moon lander called the "Blue Moon" - they hope it to be ready by 2024.

One just can't think about space travel without thinking about the Star Trek franchise. This seems true for the space companies too - think of Virgin Galactic's VSS Enterprise and SpaceX's Starship. The same holds true for Origin Blue.

William Shatner will never be actually Starfleet's youngest captain nor will he ever be the fearless explorer commanding the USS Enterprise deep into outer space. That being said, the legendary (if not cheesy) actor of Captian James Tiberius Kirk may be in fact going where Jeff Bezos has gone before.

  • Character: Captian James T Kirk's Character was Inspired by The British Explorer Captain James Cook
  • Fun Fact: William Shatner Has 2.4 Followers On Twitter

According to TMZ, William Shatner will soon be blasting off into outer space on a 15-minute mission. He will get to explore our strange old world as partakes in the Blue Origin capsule ride being filmed for a documentary. You can actually visit a full Star Trek Origin Series stage set replica in Ticonderoga in Upstate New York.

Related: Fort Ticonderoga: What To Do At One Of Upstate New York's Most Famed Historical Landmarks

SpaceX

SpaceX is an extraordinary company. It has single handily revolutionized many aspects of space travel. They are the first private American company to launch astronauts to the International Space Station in 2020. They have developed reusable rockets and their ambitions are literally reaching for the cosmos.

Seeking to outdo Blue Origin and Virgin Galatic and their suborbital spaceflights, they are planing lunar tourism as soon as 2023 (but could be later). Dubbed the dearMoon Project they plan to use the revolutionary SpaceX Starship to fly around the Moon and back. The Starship is the same vehicle that is being developed to land on and eventually colonize Mars.

  • Financed: by Japanese Billionaire Yusaku Maezawa
  • Duration: Six-Day Tour

Related: 25 Things We Believe About Space Tourism (That Are Totally False)

Government Organisations: Soyuz & NASA

Space tourism has been around for a while. Between 2001 and 2009 seven space tourists enjoyed tours on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station. These cost around $20-25 million per trip. Due to the increase in the International Space Station crew size no space tours have happened since 2009.

They have now developed the Soyuz MS-20 to flight to the International Space Station. It is to be a tourist craft with seating for two tourist passengers. The planned flight is set for launch on 8 December 2021 with the Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.

NASA is planning to resume sending tourists to the International Space Station using SpaceX's Crew Dragon and the Boeing Starliner. These tours are expected to cost around $50 million there and back. The Starliner has been designed with one space tourist seat, and this seat is to be sold to high-paying tourists.

Next: 15 Incredible Space Tourism Options Coming Soon (5 Destinations Already Available Today)