So far the biggest contender in the upcoming space tourism industry is probably Virgin Galactic, whose early entrance (plus safety features) may give it a "Google" edge over its rivals.
However a new entrant to the field is promising to make its rides more attractive by not only offering up to a weeks worth of weightlessness (for $2.5 million) but by also down playing the major players in the upcoming space arena.
(Interorbital) Several companies are currently offering seats on manned suborbital joyrides. Some rocketplane developers are advertising two-hour suborbital trips into space. Beware! An actual suborbital rocketplane ride to the edge of space and back lasts only 15 minutes. Most of the two-hour suborbital trip will be spent cramped inside the rocketplane's cockpit being hauled up to launch altitude. And then, after the completion of the 15-minute suborbital roller coaster ride, the passengers will have experienced only a few minutes of zero-G (while strapped in their seats) and spent only a few minutes in space. An orbital spaceflight is a completely different experience.
Orbital missions take place at altitudes of 100 plus miles (161 plus kilometers) above the Earth. In a spaceship traveling at 17,500 miles-per-hour (28,226 kilometers-per-hour) in Earth Orbit, passengers experience uninterrupted zero-G, and gaze at nonstop panoramas of the Earth and of limitless space. They can marvel at an unending series of sunsets and sunrises; see the wakes of large ships on the world's oceans; track weather systems from a wildly new perspective; talk to friends and family from orbit and share the wonder. An orbital expedition is the only way to experience real space flight.
Note: Original paragraph broken in two by editor for easier reading.
Interorbital plans on launching their first rocket joyride in 2009, and is even offering discounted "rebate" tickets at $250,000 for the first ten clients. If they are successful in their adventure, Interorbital may help redefine the space industry, as well as attract more "thrillionaires" towards space.
Note: While Interorbital may be downplaying Rocketplane (not to mention Benson Space and EADS), they better have some serious hardware to back those bold words, lest they end up as fodder for the Space Cynic.
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