Space tourism

Space tourism is space travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. A number of startup companies have sprung up in recent years, hoping to create a space tourism industry. Orbital space tourism opportunities have been limited and expensive, with only the Russian Space Agency providing transport to date. Tourist flights are tentatively planned to resume in 2013, when the number of single-use three-person Soyuz launches could rise to five a year. As of September 2012, multiple companies are offering sales of orbital and suborbital flights, with varying durations and creature comforts.
On October 4, 2004, SpaceShipOne, designed by Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites, won the $10,000,000 X Prize, which was designed to be won by the first private company who could reach and surpass an altitude of 62 miles (100 km) twice within two weeks. Rutan has indicated that ideas about the project began as early as 1994 and the full-time development cycle time to the 2004 accomplishments was about three years. The vehicle first achieved supersonic flight on December 17, 2003, which was also the one-hundredth anniversary of the Wright Brothers‘ historic first powered flight. SpaceShipOne‘s first official spaceflight, known as flight 15P, was piloted by Mike Melvill. A few days before that flight, the Mojave Air and Space Port was the first commercial spaceport licensed in the United States. A few hours after that flight, Melvill became the first licensed U.S. commercial astronaut. The overall project name was Tier One which has evolved into Tier 1b with a goal of taking a successor ship‘s first passengers into space within the next few years.

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Original sources:
http://science.howstuffworks.com/spaceshipone.htm (2013)
http://www.scaled.com/projects/tierone/(2012)

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