Space Tourism: Can A Civilian Go To Space?

Space Tourism

2021 has been a busy year for private space tourism: overall, more than 15 civilians took a trip to space during this year. In this article, you will learn more about the space tourism industry, its history, and the companies that are most likely to make you a space tourist.

What is space tourism?

Brief history of space tourism, space tourism companies, orbital and suborbital space flights, how much does it cost for a person to go to space, is space tourism worth it, can i become a space tourist, why is space tourism bad for the environment.

Space tourism is human space travel for recreational or leisure purposes . It’s divided into different types, including orbital, suborbital, and lunar space tourism.

However, there are broader definitions for space tourism. According to the Space Tourism Guide , space tourism is a commercial activity related to space that includes going to space as a tourist, watching a rocket launch, going stargazing, or traveling to a space-focused destination.

The first space tourist was Dennis Tito, an American multimillionaire, who spent nearly eight days onboard the International Space Station in April 2001. This trip cost him $20 million and made Tito the first private citizen who purchased his space ticket. Over the next eight years, six more private citizens followed Tito to the International Space Station to become space tourists.

As space tourism became a real thing, dozens of companies entered this industry hoping to capitalize on renewed public interest in space, including Blue Origin in 2000 and Virgin Galactic in 2004. In the 2000s, space tourists were limited to launches aboard Russian Soyuz aircraft and only could go to the ISS. However, everything changed when the other players started to grow up on the market. There are now a variety of destinations and companies for travels to space.

There are now six major space companies that are arranging or planning to arrange touristic flights to space:

  • Virgin Galactic;
  • Blue Origin;
  • Axiom Space;
  • Space Perspective.

While the first two are focused on suborbital flights, Axiom and Boeing are working on orbital missions. SpaceX, in its turn, is prioritizing lunar tourism in the future. For now, Elon Musk’s company has allowed its Crew Dragon spacecraft to be chartered for orbital flights, as it happened with the Inspiration4 3-day mission . Space Perspective is developing a different balloon-based system to carry customers to the stratosphere and is planning to start its commercial flights in 2024.

Orbital and suborbital flights are very different. Taking an orbital flight means staying in orbit; in other words, going around the planet continually at a very high speed to not fall back to the Earth. Such a trip takes several days, even a week or more. A suborbital flight in its turn is more like a space hop — you blast off, make a huge arc, and eventually fall back to the Earth, never making it into orbit. A flight duration, in this case, ranges from 2 to 3 hours.

Here is an example: a spaceflight takes you to an altitude of 100 km above the Earth. To enter into orbit — make an orbital flight — you would have to gain a speed of about 28,000 km per hour (17,400 mph) or more. But to reach the given altitude and fall back to the Earth — make a suborbital flight — you would have to fly at only 6,000 km per hour (3,700 mph). This flight takes less energy, less fuel; therefore, it is less expensive.

  • Virgin Galactic: $250,000 for a 2-hour suborbital flight at an altitude of 80 km;
  • Blue Origin: approximately $300,000 for 12 minutes suborbital flight at an altitude of 100 km;
  • Axiom Space: $55 million for a 10-day orbital flight;
  • Space Perspective: $125,000 for a 6-hour flight to the edge of space (32 km above the Earth).

The price depends, but remember that suborbital space flights are always cheaper.

What exactly do you expect from a journey to space? Besides the awesome impressions, here is what you can experience during such a trip:

  • Weightlessness . Keep in mind that during a suborbital flight you’ll get only a couple of minutes in weightlessness, but it will be truly fascinating .
  • Space sickness . The symptoms include cold sweating, malaise, loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, and vomiting. Even experienced astronauts are not immune from it!
  • G-force . 1G is the acceleration we feel due to the force of gravity; a usual g-force astronauts experience during a rocket launch is around 3gs. To understand how a g-force influences people , watch this video.

For now, the most significant barrier for space tourism is price. But air travel was also once expensive; a one-way ticket cost more than half the price of a new car . Most likely, the price for space travel will reduce overtime as well. For now, you need to be either quite wealthy or win in a competition, as did Sian Proctor, a member of Inspiration4 mission . But before spending thousands of dollars on space travel, here is one more fact you might want to consider.

Rocket launches are harmful to the environment in general. During the burning of rocket fuels, rocket engines release harmful gases and soot particles (also known as black carbon) into the upper atmosphere, resulting in ozone depletion. Think about this: in 2018 black-carbon-producing rockets emitted about the same amount of black carbon as the global aviation industry emits annually.

However, not all space companies use black carbon for fuel. Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket has a liquid hydrogen-fuelled engine: hydrogen doesn’t emit carbon but simply turns into water vapor when burning.

The main reason why space tourism could be harmful to the environment is its potential popularity. With the rising amount of rocket launches the carbon footprint will only increase — Virgin Galactic alone aims to launch 400 of these flights annually. Meanwhile, the soot released by 1,000 space tourism flights could warm Antarctica by nearly 1°C !

Would you want to become a space tourist? Let us know your opinion on social media and share the article with your friends, if you enjoyed it! Also, the Best Mobile App Awards 2021 is going on right now, and we would very much appreciate it if you would vote for our Sky Tonight app . Simply tap "Vote for this app" in the upper part of the screen. No registration is required!

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Space tourism explained: What, why and where

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Space tourism is an exciting development in the travel and tourism industry. A futuristic type of tourism , the prospect of being able to spend leisure time in space is a daunting concept for many. But whilst some of us may have expected only have to be able to experience space tourism using virtual reality software, several companies are turning holidays in space into a reality.

What is space tourism?

Space tourism definitions, history of space tourism, rocket launches, space museums, space tourism holidays, virgin galactic, blue origin, is space tourism safe, the cost of space tourism holidays, space tourism: conclusion, further reading.

Space tourism is a type of tourism that involves an interest in space. Whilst most people associate space tourism solely with trips to space, the concept of space tourism is, in fact, broader than this.

Space tourism can include visiting space-focussed museums, watching rocket launches or travelling to destinations popular for stargazing, amongst other space-related activities.

Most recently, there has been a lot of commercial attention centred around the concept of travelling to space as a tourist; this is something that several companies are working to achieve in the near future, including Virgin Galactic and SpaceX.

What is space tourism?

If you Google the phrase ‘what is space tourism’ you will quickly be informed by Google, Wikipedia and a range of other sources that it is travelling to space for leisure or business purposes.

I, however, contest that space tourism is solely focussed upon the act of travelling to space. There is so much more to space tourism than this! Yes, this is an exciting prospect that has grabbed the attention of the media and the public, but hold on a minute…. what about all the other space-related activities that we can do without boarding a rocket and leaving the solar system?

The people over at The Space Tourism Guide have the right idea. They state that;

‘Space Tourism is not — and should not be — confined to space alone… While we can and should consider all of the activities from space tourism companies like Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, Zero2Infinity, and others space tourism, we should not discredit the companies and destinations here on earth who meet the needs and desires for all of us who love to travel for space-related activities. These can vary widely, from cities and museums like Space Center Houston to hotels with space-themed rooms.’

Space tourism is so much more than taking a trip to space! In fact, I argue that space tourism should encompass all activities related to space and astrology!

space tourism word meaning

To date, there is little academic research into space tourism. Yes, some people have looked into astrology and the like, but on the whole, there is a dearth of information. Most research that has been conducted has focussed on looking at potential demand and market demographics.

In light of the misleading definitions that you will find when asking your favourite search engine what is meant by the term space tourism, I have provided my own definition below.

‘Space tourism is the act of taking part in activities that involve or are related to space, either for business or leisure purposes.’

So there you have it- a definition of space tourism.

There are a total of 600 people that have been to space. The first man visited space in 1961, but it was actually long before this day that many people developed an interest in space. In fact, people have been star gazing as long as records go back. Heck, even the ancient pyramids of Egypt were built around the stars .

So, the concept of space tourism is not new.

The 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s saw huge progress in space research. The Soviet Union and The United States were world leaders in this area; undertaking many trips to space, exploring our solar system, nearby planets and moons. Space travel became more affordable and we learnt a lot during this time.

It was only at the turn of the new millennium that commercial space tourism ,whereby a tourist could travel to space, started to become a reality. A handful of wealthy citizens from around the world embarked on their leisure outings to space between 2001-2009. Observing this demand, a number of space tourism operators began to emerge, namely Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic and Rocket Lab. Said companies have since become household names.

space tourism word meaning

In recent years the commercial hype and excitement towards space tourism has died down. The public continue to eagerly await the days that they may be able to exchange their all-inclusive holiday in Benidorm for a week of zero-gravity in space, but for most, this is an unrealistic and unachievable prospect.

For now, it appears that travelling into space will be available only for the super-rich, and we do not yet know when this might be attainable. BUT the space tourism industry in all its other forms (museums, star gazing, rocket launches etc) remains to be obtainable to all.

Types of space tourism

We might not realistically be able to travel into space for our annual leave days just yet, but there are still ways that we can get involved with the space tourism industry. Here are some examples.

What is space tourism?

Stargazing is a popular space tourism pastime for many. There are many parts of the world that are renowned for their stargazing potential. These are usually remote areas, where the light pollution is reduced, enabling maximum visibility.

Some popular stargazing destinations have capitalised on the tourist market by organising stargazing tours or stargazing-focussed accommodation options, such as bubble hotels. This CNN article shows you some of the best bubble hotel spots around the world. Many people use this opportunity to visit the Northern Lights or the Southern Lights too.

Lots of these destinations are perfect for practicing your astrophotography too!

space tourism word meaning

Whilst a rocket launch may not be an everyday occurrence, it is possible to spectate when they do happen. Once operated only by Governments, there are now a range of private companies that undertake rocket launches.

If you travel to a destination with the sole intention of watching a rocket launch, or if you watch a rocket launch alongside other business or leisure pursuits, you can be classified as a space tourist.

A prominent part of the space tourism industry are space museums.

There are many museums throughout the world that are focussed around the concept of space, although these are most numerous in the United States and Russia. Here are some of the most highly-rated space museums.

  • Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC, US
  • Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Ottawa, Canada
  • Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics, Moscow, Russia
  • Pima Air and Space Museum, Arizona , US
  • Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, New York City, US
  • Le Bourget Air and Space Museum, Paris, France
  • Kennedy Space Center, Florida , US
  • Cité de l’espace, Toulouse, France

space tourism word meaning

As I mentioned earlier, space tourism holidays are what many people think space tourism is all about. Whilst there are other activities that constitute space tourism, space tourism holidays have gained a lot of media attention in recent years, and rightly so. Who wouldn’t pick up the paper and read an article that tells them that they can swap their two weeks in the sun for two weeks in space?

OK, so it isn’t quite so simple. It will require some adjustment to spending time at zero gravity, you might get a little travel sick and you might not return home with quite the same tan lines, BUT space tourism holidays are set to become a reality.

There are a number of companies who have been developing their space tourism products for a number of years, although exactly when we can go on our next space tourism holiday, is yet to be determined.

Space tourism companies

There are several key players in the space tourism holiday market. See below for a brief summary of each.

Virgin Galactic is perhaps one of the best known space tourism holiday companies. It is part of the wider Virgin Group and therefore has the benefit of an already well-established brand and reputation. It is owned by Richard Branson.

The company plans to send range of tourists to space and already has an extensive waitlist for eager space travellers, including the likes of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ashton Kutcher and Justin Bieber.

Virgin Galactic has, however, had some negative publicity in recent times, with multiple delays and the in-flight loss of its VSS Enterprise spaceplane in 2014.

Unlike Virgin Galactic, SpaceX are an experienced rocket launching company that are now extending their operations to the commercial space tourism holiday market.

SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk. Their first holiday was initially scheduled for 2018, but has since been delayed.

Blue Origin plans to offer similar space tourism holidays to that offered by Virgin Galactic. With a traditional, vertical take-off rocket, the company plans to begin operations soon, although there is not firm date set yet.

Blue Origin was founded in 2000 by Mr Bezos.

Orion Span plans to send tourists to space to stay in their ‘space hotel’. The space hotel would accommodate up to six tourists at a time and would be positioned the private commercial space station, Aurora Space Station.

The CEO of Orion Span is Frank Bunger who states that the company’s ‘goal is to make space accessible to all’. They plan to begin operations in 2021.

Better known for their aircraft that do not leave the hemisphere, Boeing have also branched out into the space tourism holiday market.

Boeing’s involvement emerged from their working arrangement with NASA, whereby they have been working on the Commercial Crew Development programme, aimed at increasing involvement from private sector companies in the production of crew vehicles to be launched into orbit.

Boeing have developed a crew capsule, called the Boeing CST-100 Starliner, providing them with the opportunity to sell seats to space tourists.

There have been some concerns over the safety of space tourism, particularly after the negative publicity surrounding the Virgin Galactic loss of aircraft in 2014.

Because it’s so early in development of the space tourism industry and the FAA can’t control how companies design and manufacture their aircraft , it’s hard to say how safe space tourism holidays will be.

There have been many critiques, however, who have suggested that there will be deaths amongst tourists who seek to holiday in space. The number of accidents that have occurred during the testing phases hasn’t done much to people’s minds at ease, either.

Space tourism holidays are for everyday folk, at least not yet anyway, because you need to have a hefty sum of money in your pocket to be able to afford the ticket.

Prices start from US$250,000 and range up to tens of millions of Dollars. Whilst each space tourism holiday company will differ slightly, prices will typically include pre-departure training and equipment. For now, space tourism trips are set to be short in duration, lasting only a few hours. The intention is, however, that trips can be extended in the future to allow for prolonged stays in space.

As you can see, the space tourism industry is a prominent part of the wider tourism industry. Whilst most attention typically goes to the exciting prospect of space tourism holidays, there are also a number of other leisure pursuits that constitute space tourism.

It is likely that we will see many developments in the space tourism industry in the coming years, as research and development continues to be undertaken by a number of commercial operators. Watch this space and maybe you will be the next person to spend your annual leave days in space!

If you want to read up on the space tourism industry a little more then I can recommend the following texts-

  • The Market for Space Tourism: Early Indications by Geoffrey Crouch- An overview of the Space Tourism market and its future potential
  • Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly- A diary account of NASA astronaut’s experiences in space.
  • Space Tourism by Patrick Stakem- A textbook introducing the concept of space tourism.

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  • space tourism

commercial travel into outer space by members of the general public , as for adventure: spaceships built for suborbital and orbital space tourism.

Origin of space tourism

Other words from space tourism.

  • space tour·ist, noun

Words Nearby space tourism

  • space stage
  • space station
  • Space Telescope
  • space travel
  • space writer Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use space tourism in a sentence

If Blue Origin wants to dominate the space tourism market, now is as good a time as any.

That begs the question of whether or not you can sustain a new space company on space tourism alone.

SpaceX has never really billed itself as a space tourism company as aggressively as Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic have.

The company hopes to use New Shepard to send people into suborbital flights of a few minutes’ duration as a space tourism service.

Now that Crew Dragon is open for business, space tourism for the ultrarich might be poised for a comeback.

'Space tourism' flying high: It's added to Oxford dictionary


"Space tourism" is now "buzzworthy," at least according to one prominent dictionary.

Oxford Dictionaries Online (ODO) added "space tourism" (and "buzzworthy") to the more than 350,000 entries that it defines, the Oxford University Press announced Wednesday.

The newly added entry describes " space tourism " as "the practice of traveling into space for recreational purposes." Oxford Dictionaries Online also includes with the entry an example of the "mass noun" used in a sentence: "Space tourism could be a $10 billion-per-year industry within two decades." [ Photos: The First Space Tourists ]

'Twerk' thrusts its way into dictionary, too, NBC News notes

"Space tourist" is listed as a derivative of "space tourism" in the free online dictionary. The ODO is separate from the Oxford English Dictionary, which focuses on the historical use of words.

The addition of "space tourism" was a part of the ODO's quarterly update, which also included the aforementioned "buzzworthy" (meaning "likely to arouse the interest and attention of the public, either by media coverage or word of mouth"); " selfie " ("a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website"); and "twerk" ("dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance").

The new entries reflect that the words and phrases have become accepted within the English language, as spoken and used today.

"New words, senses, and phrases are added ... when we have gathered enough independent evidence from a range of sources to be confident that they have widespread currency in English," Angus Stevenson of Oxford Dictionaries Online explained in a statement. "On average, we add approximately 1,000 new entries to (the) Oxford Dictionaries Online every year, and this quarter's update highlights some fascinating developments in the English language."

The term "space tourism" may have a longer history, but its propagation into the modern lexicon began in the 1990s as private rocket companies and adventure tourism firms started marketing suborbital and orbital opportunities for the public to travel into space.

"Space tourism is a movement that has existed since the dawn of private spaceflight," Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom, co-author of the 2011 book "Realizing Tomorrow: The Path to Private Spaceflight" (University of Nebraska Press) wrote in an e-mail to, responding to "space tourism" being added to the ODO. "It's a realization that access to space is a catalyst that will open the next frontier for the trillion dollar tourism industry."

Since 2001, Virginia-based Space Adventures has offered seats onboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft bound for the International Space Station (ISS). To date, seven millionaires and billionaires have embarked on self-funded spaceflights through the firm, with an eighth slated for a mission in 2015.

Space Adventures' "space tourists" include businessman Dennis Tito, South African computer software developer Mark Shuttleworth, engineer Greg Olsen, Iranian American engineer Anousheh Ansari, Hungarian software developer Charles Simonyi (who visited the ISS twice), video game pioneer and second-generation astronaut Richard Garriott , and Cirque du Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberté.

Space Adventures announced in 2012 that famed-soprano Sarah Brightman would train for a flight to the International Space Station in 2015.

Virgin Galactic, a company within business magnate Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, has signed up more than 600 customers for suborbital flights on its SpaceShipTwo, a rocketplane based on the design of the 2004 Ansari X Prize-winning SpaceShipOne. The company is planning to begin flying paying clients in 2014.

Other companies including XCOR Aerospace and its Lynx rocketplane, Boeing with its CST-100 capsule , Excalibur Almaz using upgraded Soviet-era spacecraft and Bigelow Aerospace with plans for inflatable space stations, have put forth plans to fly space tourists as well.

The Oxford Dictionaries Online is among the dictionaries compiled by Oxford University Press, which also includes the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Whereas the content in the ODO focuses on current English, including modern meanings, the OED is a historical dictionary, which serves as a record of all the core words and meanings in English spanning the past 1,000 years.

The OED added "space tourism" in 2004 as a subordinate to the word "space."

Follow on Facebook and on Twitter at @collectSpace. Copyright 2013 All rights reserved.

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Definition of 'space tourism'

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Meaning of space tourist in English

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  • It won't be business as usual aboard the international space station next week when the first space tourist stops by for a visit .
  • The world's first space tourist began his cosmonaut training in August in Star City, a training base outside of Moscow.
  • His success could open the door to dozens of other space tourists aboard the station .
  • But how will these space tourists handle problems common to NASA-trained astronauts such as space sickness or balance disorders ?
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Everything You Need to Know About Space Tourism Right Now

Your next travel splurge could be a flight to space

space tourism word meaning

Virgin Galactic vehicle SpaceShipTwo on its first glide flight on October 10, 2010 over Mojave in California. (Virgin Galactic / Getty Images)

While 2020 has been an abysmal year on many counts, there’s one industry that’s thriving: space exploration. Within the first eight months of the year, we’ve seen the successful launches of three Mars missions, promising tests of new rockets, and the return of crewed spaceflight to U.S. soil—aboard a privately built spacecraft, no less! But we’re also getting much closer to the launch of the space tourism industry, meaning your dream of becoming an astronaut could become reality quite soon. We’re still a little ways away from regular flights into space for paying customers, but here are all the developments you need to know about.

The History of Space Tourism

Traveling to space has long been the domain of professional astronauts, not ordinary citizens. But that all changed when American entrepreneur Dennis Tito flew to space in 2001 with space tourism company Space Adventures, who organized the trip with Russian space agency Roscosmos. Tito was the first of only seven true “space tourists,” each of whom traveled to the International Space Station (ISS) via Roscosmos's Soyuz spacecraft for about a weeklong stay—or for two separate weeklong stays, in the case of one space traveler—for a reported cost between $20 million to $35 million per trip (plus months of training). The final space tourism excursion was made by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté in 2009, after which Roscosmos had to end touristic flights: when NASA retired its space shuttle program in 2011, each seat on its Soyuz spacecraft needed to be reserved for crews heading to the ISS, not tourists. Since then, space tourism has been halted.

Nearly There: Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic

The issue with Space Adventure’s program is that it relies on other operators for transportation, which limits its access to space. But the next wave of private spaceflight companies have been developing their own vehicles to propel clients into weightlessness. The two frontrunners in the space tourism race are Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, both of which are in advanced testing phases—Virgin Galactic has even opened ticket sales already, with more than 600 passengers booked. While both aerospace companies will provide their clients with suborbital trips into space, they’ll do so in entirely different fashions.

Blue Origin

Blue Origin plans to send tourists to space in its New Shepard vehicle, named after the first American in space, Alan Shepard, from its launch site in West Texas. New Shepard, which is an entirely autonomous craft that doesn’t need a human pilot, is similar to Roscosmos’s Soyuz and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon vehicles in that its six passengers will be housed in a capsule and vertically launched into space via a rocket.

After a day of training, passengers will get to experience a launch just as professional astronauts do: they’ll feel the intense G-forces pressing down on them as the rocket shuttles them to an altitude of approximately 62 miles, which is widely accepted as the boundary of space. When the engines cut off, passengers will be weightless, and they’re free to float about the capsule, taking in the views of the planet and of the darkness of space through the capsule’s large windows. After a few minutes, the capsule will fall back to Earth under parachutes. All in, the trip lasts just 11 minutes—it’s a pretty short flight considering tickets will likely cost about $250,000. 

Blue Origin has successfully launched New Shepard on 12 un-crewed test flights since 2015, but it’ll need to get humans up into space before it’ll be certified to start carrying paying customers. The company originally hoped to launch a crewed test flight in 2019; however, it still has not done so, nor has it announced a new timeline for the test.

Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic, on the other hand, will fly passengers to space aboard a winged vehicle called SpaceShipTwo , which bears similarities to NASA’s space shuttle. But whereas the shuttle launched vertically via a rocket, SpaceShipTwo is launched horizontally. The vehicle, which seats six passengers plus two pilots, takes off from a runway like a regular plane via its carrier aircraft called WhiteKnightTwo. Virgin Galactic currently launches from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, but it will also launch from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

After takeoff, WhiteKnightTwo ascends to 50,000 feet, after which SpaceShipTwo is released, and its rocket-powered engines kick in to bring it all the way to a maximum altitude of roughly 68 miles. As with Blue Origin’s New Shepard, passengers will enjoy a few minutes of weightlessness before returning to Earth, but instead of a parachute landing, SpaceShipTwo will land on a runway like a plane—which is also how the space shuttle landed. Total run time: between two and three hours in flight, plus two-and-a-half days of training, with a price tag of $250,000.

Virgin Galactic has been conducting test flights since 2010, but progress has been a bit slow—and deadly. In 2014, a test pilot was killed after a SpaceShipTwo vehicle broke apart during a flight, primarily due to pilot error. Testing resumed in 2016 and is ongoing, with no official word on when commercial operations will begin.

Other Companies Dreaming Big

Of all the space tourism operations out there, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are by far the closest to launching passengers. (Elon Musk's SpaceX, which has already successfully launched NASA astronauts into space, is not focusing on tourism, though it will provide lifts for third-party companies.) But coming in hot on their heels is Boeing, whose Starliner vehicle is being developed for NASA's Commercial Crew Program; its contract, however, allows for tourists to potentially join flights. 

The other viable space tourism companies on the horizon are not developing their own vehicles, rather, they plan on hitching rides with other providers. Space Adventures is still in the game, having entered a partnership with SpaceX to fly passengers on Crew Dragon as soon as next year. It’s also revived its tourism operations with Roscosmos: two tourists are booked on a trip to the ISS in 2023. Another company, Axiom Space, plans on taking passengers to the ISS via SpaceX’s Crew Dragon as soon as 2021, before launching its own private space station by the end of the decade. Similarly, Orion Span has announced its intentions to launch its Aurora Space Station in 2021, though construction on the project has yet to begin.

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Want to be a space tourist? Here are 6 things to consider first

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin participated in an Apollo 11 Extravehicular Activity on the lunar surface.

The industry of space tourism could exist in the future. Image:  Unsplash/NASA

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The luxurious interior of Bezos’ Blue Origin

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You Won’t Hear Much About the Next Chapter of Space Travel

Space tourism is getting less transparent, and more like traveling by private jet.

A passenger floats in weightlessness on a Virgin Galactic flight to the edge of space

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Of all the high-flying tourism ventures spawned by space-obsessed billionaires, Virgin Galactic, founded by Richard Branson, offers perhaps the most unconventional approach. It doesn’t use big rockets or gumdrop-shaped capsules. Instead, an airplane takes off with a spacecraft strapped to its wing. The spacecraft, shaped like a plane itself, holds the paying customers and more pilots. When the airplane reaches a certain altitude, it releases the spacecraft. The spacecraft’s pilots then ignite its engine, and the vehicle soars straight up, to the fuzzy boundary that separates us from the rest of the universe, before gliding back down and landing on a runway.

The spaceplane experience is a stark contrast to Blue Origin’s suborbital jaunts and SpaceX’s orbital missions, but Virgin Galactic’s passengers still have a few surreal minutes of weightlessness, and they get to see the planet gleaming against the darkness of space. Those passengers have included the first former Olympian to reach space, as well as the first mother-daughter duo and, most recently, the first Pakistani .

In the midst of all that, Virgin Galactic clocked a first that raised some eyebrows: The company withheld the passenger list from the public before a takeoff last month, divulging the travelers’ names only after they had landed. The company never publicly explained its preflight secrecy. (Virgin Galactic did not respond to a request for comment.) Yesterday, Virgin Galactic announced its next flight, scheduled for November; the company kept one of the three listed passengers anonymous, saying only that the person is “of Franco-Italian nationality.”

Virgin is of course within its rights to withhold passenger names before takeoff. After all, airlines and railroads keep private the names of their customers. But Virgin Galactic’s choice to do so marks a subtle shift—the latest in U.S. spaceflight’s arc from a publicly funded national mission to private tourism. NASA, as a taxpayer-funded organization, has always had to provide the public with launch lists and livestreams. But the age of space tourism raises a host of questions: How much openness do space-tourism companies owe the public? How much privacy do they owe their customers? Before the Virgin flight returned home last month, it operated almost like a privately chartered plane, its movements known to relevant aviation agencies but its passengers’ names undisclosed to the public. Commercial spaceflight and air travel are still far from alike, but in this particular aspect, the space-tourism industry may be drifting toward its private-jet era.

Read: The new ‘right stuff’ is money and luck

In practice, the space-tourism industry is barely more than two years old, and it’s “still finding its norms,” says Carissa Christensen, a space consultant and the CEO of BryceTech, an analytics and engineering firm. The first passenger rosters were marquee news in 2021, when Branson and Jeff Bezos were racing to be the first to ride their own spacecraft , and Elon Musk’s SpaceX was working to send a quartet of private astronauts with zero spaceflight experience into orbit.

All three of their companies publicized, and even hyped, the passenger lists, in some cases months in advance. Wally Funk, an octogenarian aviator who had outperformed male candidates in astronaut tests during the 1960s but was kept out of the astronaut corps because she was a woman, flew alongside Bezos . Jared Isaacman, a billionaire businessman, paid for three other people to fly into orbit with him on SpaceX; all of them gave countless interviews before launch. And who can forget the hype ahead of William Shatner’s flight, and the Star Trek star’s unfiltered, emotional remarks after landing?

The rosters became less noteworthy as time went on: The customers were no longer memorable guests who got free rides, but simply very wealthy people who could afford the trips on their own. Last month’s temporarily secret Virgin Galactic fliers included a real-estate investor from Las Vegas, a South African entrepreneur, and a British engineer who founded a company that builds race cars. Michelle Hanlon, a space lawyer and the executive director of the University of Mississippi’s Center for Air and Space Law, told me that she was mildly surprised by Virgin Galactic’s decision to withhold the passengers’ identities before takeoff, but that the decision did not strike her as inappropriate.

“From a paparazzi standpoint, if it’s Ashton Kutcher, the world’s gonna care a little bit more than if it’s Michelle Hanlon,” Hanlon said. (Kutcher did, in fact, purchase a Virgin Galactic ticket in 2012, but he later sold it back to the company after his wife and fellow actor, Mila Kunis, talked him out of going.) And from a legal standpoint, nothing inappropriate occurred, Hanlon said; there are no existing requirements for a private company to disclose passenger names. Space travelers must sign waivers from the Federal Aviation Administration outlining the risks associated with the activity, she said, but the companies they’re flying with are not required to provide the agency with a passenger list.

Read: Jeff Bezos knows who paid for him to go to space

Passenger names aren’t the only details of commercial spaceflight that are becoming more opaque. When SpaceX launched its first set of private astronauts, the company shared significantly less live footage of their experience in orbit than they did when NASA astronauts test-drove the capsule a year earlier. During its last two flights, Virgin Galactic decided not to provide a livestream, giving updates on social media instead.

Because there are no regulations, it’s difficult to say when the companies’ right to privacy becomes a concerning level of secrecy. NASA overshares when it comes to its astronauts and their mission, because the public—which funds the agency—expects it. Americans might also expect a good look at SpaceX customers who visit the International Space Station, which relies on billions of dollars of taxpayer money, and where private visitors share meals with government astronauts. But what about other kinds of SpaceX missions, which go into orbit without disembarking at any government-owned facility? The company developed its crewed launch services with significant investment from NASA, so virtually every SpaceX trip indirectly involves government money. That doesn’t necessarily mean SpaceX is obligated to share as the space agency does, even if people on the ground feel that it should.

Another major difference between NASA missions and private ones, of course, is that astronauts are at work, whereas many space tourists are presumably just having fun. Caryn Schenewerk, a consultant who specializes in commercial spaceflight at her firm CS Consulting, told me that she thinks commercial spaceflight will adopt the practices of other forms of adventure tourism. Take skydiving, for example: Schenewerk said that she has signed paperwork granting the skydiving company permission to use footage of her experience for its own purposes. “There’s some expectation of privacy on the individual’s behalf that then has to be actively waived for the company’s benefit,” she said.

The once-anonymous Virgin Galactic passengers on the September flight have since publicly shared their stories , basking in the awe of their experience. Christensen told me that most future tourists will likely do the same. “A big part of the fun is other people knowing that you’ve done it,” she said. Flying to space isn’t exactly something to be modest about: Fewer than 700 people have done it since human beings first achieved the feat, in the early 1960s, and we know all of their names. If Virgin’s new mystery passenger doesn’t reveal their name, they really will make history.

Read: Seeing Earth from space will change you

Many spacefarers—the Soviet cosmonauts who inhabited the first space station, the American astronauts who shuttled their way into orbit, the Chinese astronauts living in space right now, all of the people who have flown commercial—have spoken about the transformational wonder of seeing Earth from space, a phenomenon known as the overview effect . They reported that they better understood the reality of our beautiful, fragile planet, and that they felt a duty to share their impressions with people on the ground. Gene Cernan, one of the dozen men who walked on the lunar surface, once said, “If only everyone could relate to the beauty and the purposefulness of it … It wouldn’t bring a utopia to this planet for people to understand it all, but it might make a difference.” In this sense, for a space traveler to remain unknown forever would be a sort of anti–overview effect: Just as they may have the right to request some privacy, they have no obligation to bring the transcendent power of their journey back to Earth.

Three years ago, two NASA astronauts made a historic flight on a new SpaceX astronaut capsule. Ahead of the mission, I asked NASA what Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken were going to have for breakfast on the morning of the launch. It was a question with a long tradition in spacefaring history: During the Apollo days, the public was privy to the final Earth-bound meals of history-making astronauts. NASA officials balked, saying they couldn’t divulge that information for privacy reasons. But on the day of the launch, Hurley, as if to sate the space press corps, posted a picture of his steak and eggs on Twitter (as it was still known then).

Hurley and Behnken’s preflight hours seemed like fair game; after all, these men were government employees, doing their job on their assigned mission. But future passengers may decide that we have no business knowing their breakfast order—or even their name.


Glossary of tourism terms

UN standards for measuring tourism

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Glossary of tourism terms

Tourism is a social, cultural and economic phenomenon which entails the movement of people to countries or places outside their usual environment for personal or business/professional purposes. These people are called visitors (which may be either tourists or excursionists; residents or non-residents) and tourism has to do with their activities, some of which involve tourism expenditure.


Activity/activities : In tourism statistics, the term activities represent the actions and behaviors of people in preparation for and during a trip in their capacity as consumers ( IRTS 2008, 1.2 ).

Activity (principal): The principal activity of a producer unit is the activity whose value added exceeds that of any other activity carried out within the same unit ( SNA 2008, 5.8 ).

Activity (productive): The (productive) activity carried out by a statistical unit is the type of production in which it engages. It has to be understood as a process, i.e. the combination of actions that result in a certain set of products. The classification of productive activities is determined by their principal output.

Administrative data : Administrative data is the set of units and data derived from an administrative source. This is a data holding information collected and maintained for the purpose of implementing one or more administrative regulations.

Adventure tourism : Adventure tourism is a type of tourism which usually takes place in destinations with specific geographic features and landscape and tends to be associated with a physical activity, cultural exchange, interaction and engagement with nature. This experience may involve some kind of real or perceived risk and may require significant physical and/or mental effort. Adventure tourism generally includes outdoor activities such as mountaineering, trekking, bungee jumping, rock climbing, rafting, canoeing, kayaking, canyoning, mountain biking, bush walking, scuba diving. Likewise, some indoor adventure tourism activities may also be practiced.

Aggregated data : The result of transforming unit level data into quantitative measures for a set of characteristics of a population.

Aggregation : A process that transforms microdata into aggregate-level information by using an aggregation function such as count, sum average, standard deviation, etc.

Analytical unit : Entity created by statisticians, by splitting or combining observation units with the help of estimations and imputations.

Balance of payments : The balance of payments is a statistical statement that summarizes transactions between residents and non-residents during a period. It consists of the goods and services account, the primary income account, the secondary income account, the capital account, and the financial account ( BPM6, 2.12 ).

Bias : An effect which deprives a statistical result of representativeness by systematically distorting it, as distinct from a random error which may distort on any one occasion but balances out on the average.

Business and professional purpose (of a tourism trip): The business and professional purpose of a tourism trip includes the activities of the self-employed and employees, as long as they do not correspond to an implicit or explicit employer-employee relationship with a resident producer in the country or place visited, those of investors, businessmen, etc. ( IRTS 2008, 3.17.2 ).

Business tourism : Business tourism is a type of tourism activity in which visitors travel for a specific professional and/or business purpose to a place outside their workplace and residence with the aim of attending a meeting, an activity or an event. The key components of business tourism are meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions. The term "meetings industry" within the context of business tourism recognizes the industrial nature of such activities. Business tourism can be combined with any other tourism type during the same trip.

Business visitor : A business visitor is a visitor whose main purpose for a tourism trip corresponds to the business and professional category of purpose ( IRTS 2008, 3.17.2 ).

Central Product Classification : The Central Product Classification (CPC) constitutes a complete product classification covering goods and services. It is intended to serve as an international standard for assembling and tabulating all kinds of data requiring product detail, including industrial production, national accounts, service industries, domestic and foreign commodity trade, international trade in services, balance of payments, consumption and price statistics. Other basic aims are to provide a framework for international comparison and promote harmonization of various types of statistics dealing with goods and services.

Census : A census is the complete enumeration of a population or groups at a point in time with respect to well defined characteristics: for example, Population, Production, Traffic on particular roads.

Coastal, maritime and inland water tourism : Coastal tourism refers to land-based tourism activities such as swimming, surfing, sunbathing and other coastal leisure, recreation and sports activities which take place on the shore of a sea, lake or river. Proximity to the coast is also a condition for services and facilities that support coastal tourism. Maritime tourism refers to sea-based activities such as cruising, yachting, boating and nautical sports and includes their respective land-based services and infrastructure. Inland water tourism refers to tourism activities such as cruising, yachting, boating and nautical sports which take place in aquatic- influenced environments located within land boundaries and include lakes, rivers, ponds, streams, groundwater, springs, cave waters and others traditionally grouped as inland wetlands.

Coherence : Adequacy of statistics to be combined in different ways and for various uses.

Competitiveness of a tourism destination : The competitiveness of a tourism destination is the ability of the destination to use its natural, cultural, human, man-made and capital resources efficiently to develop and deliver quality, innovative, ethical and attractive tourism products and services in order to achieve a sustainable growth within its overall vision and strategic goals, increase the added value of the tourism sector, improve and diversify its market components and optimize its attractiveness and benefits both for visitors and the local community in a sustainable perspective.

Consistency : Logical and numerical coherence.

Country of reference : The country of reference refers to the country for which the measurement is done. ( IRTS 2008, 2.15 ).

Country of residence : The country of residence of a household is determined according to the centre of predominant economic interest of its members. If a person resides (or intends to reside) for more than one year in a given country and has there his/her centre of economic interest (for example, where the predominant amount of time is spent), he/she is considered as a resident of this country.

Country-specific tourism characteristic products and activities : To be determined by each country by applying the criteria of IRTS 2008, 5.10 in their own context; for these products, the activities producing them will be considered as tourism characteristic, and the industries in which the principal activity is tourism-characteristic will be called tourism industries ( IRTS 2008, 5.16 ).

Cultural tourism : Cultural tourism is a type of tourism activity in which the visitor's essential motivation is to learn, discover, experience and consume the tangible and intangible cultural attractions/products in a tourism destination. These attractions/products relate to a set of distinctive material, intellectual, spiritual and emotional features of a society that encompasses arts and architecture, historical and cultural heritage, culinary heritage, literature, music, creative industries and the living cultures with their lifestyles, value systems, beliefs and traditions.

Data checking : Activity whereby the correctness conditions of the data are verified. It also includes the specification of the type of error or of the condition not met, and the qualification of the data and their division into "error-free data" and "erroneous data".

Data collection : Systematic process of gathering data for official statistics.

Data compilation : Operations performed on data to derive new information according to a given set of rules.

Data confrontation : The process of comparing data that has generally been derived from different surveys or other sources, especially those of different frequencies, in order to assess and possibly improve their coherency, and identify the reasons for any differences.

Data processing : Data processing is the operation performed on data by the organization, institute, agency, etc., responsible for undertaking the collection, tabulation, manipulation and preparation of data and metadata output.

Data reconciliation : The process of adjusting data derived from two different sources to remove, or at least reduce, the impact of differences identified.

Destination (main destination of a trip): The main destination of a tourism trip is defined as the place visited that is central to the decision to take the trip. See also purpose of a tourism trip ( IRTS 2008, 2.31 ).

Destination management / marketing organization (DMO) : A destination management/marketing organization (DMO) is the leading organizational entity which may encompass the various authorities, stakeholders and professionals and facilitates tourism sector partnerships towards a collective destination vision. The governance structures of DMOs vary from a single public authority to a public/ private partnership model with the key role of initiating, coordinating and managing certain activities such as implementation of tourism policies, strategic planning, product development, promotion and marketing and convention bureau activities. The functions of the DMOs may vary from national to regional and local levels depending on the current and potential needs as well as on the decentralization level of public administration. Not every tourism destination has a DMO.

Documentation: Processes and procedures for imputation,  weighting,  confidentiality  and suppression rules, outlier treatment and data capture should be fully documented by the  survey provider.  Such documentation should be made available to at least  the body financing the survey.

Domestic tourism : Domestic tourism comprises the activities of a resident visitor within the country of reference, either as part of a domestic tourism trip or part of an outbound tourism trip ( IRTS 2008, 2.39 ).

Domestic tourism consumption : Domestic tourism consumption is the tourism consumption of a resident visitor within the economy of reference ( TSA:RMF 2008, figure 2.1 ).

Domestic tourism expenditure : Domestic tourism expenditure is the tourism expenditure of a resident visitor within the economy of reference, (IRTS 2008, 4.15(a)).

Domestic tourism trip : A domestic tourism trip is one with a main destination within the country of residence of the visitor (IRTS 2008, 2.32).

Domestic visitor : As a visitor travels within his/her country of residence, he/she is a domestic visitor and his/her activities are part of domestic tourism.

Durable consumer goods : Durable consumer goods are goods that may be used repeatedly or continuously over a period of a year or more, assuming a normal or average rate of physical usage. When acquired by producers, these are considered to be capital goods used for production processes, as is the case of vehicles, computers, etc. When acquired by households, they are considered to be consumer durable goods ( TSA:RMF 2008, 2.39 ). This definition is identical to the definition of SNA 2008, 9.42 : A consumer durable is a goodthat may be used for purposes of consumption repeatedly or continuously over a period of a year or more.

Dwellings : Each household has a principal dwelling (sometimes also designated as main or primary home), usually defined with reference to time spent there, whose location defines the country of residence and place of usual residence of this household and of all its members. All other dwellings (owned or leased by the household) are considered secondary dwellings ( IRTS 2008, 2.26 ).

Ecotourism : Ecotourism is a type of nature-based tourism activity in which the visitor's essential motivation is to observe, learn, discover, experience and appreciate biological and cultural diversity with a responsible attitude to protect the integrity of the ecosystem and enhance the well-being of the local community. Ecotourism increases awareness towards the conservation of biodiversity, natural environment and cultural assets both among locals and the visitors and requires special management processes to minimize the negative impact on the ecosystem.

Economic analysis : Tourism generates directly and indirectly an increase in economic activity in the places visited (and beyond), mainly due to demand for goods and services thatneed to be produced and provided. In the economic analysis of tourism, one may distinguish between tourism's 'economic contribution' which refers to the direct effect of tourism and is measurable by means of the TSA, and tourism's 'economic impact' which is a much broader concept encapsulating the direct, indirect and induced effects of tourism and which must be estimated by applying models. Economic impact studies aim to quantify economic benefits, that is, the net increase in the wealth of residents resulting from tourism, measured in monetary terms, over and above the levels that would prevail in its absence.

Economic territory : The term "economic territory" is a geographical reference and points to the country for which the measurement is done (country of reference) ( IRTS 2008, 2.15 ).

Economically active population : The economically active population or labour force comprises all persons of either sex who furnish the supply of labour for the production of goods and services as defined by the system of national accounts during a specified time-reference period (ILO, Thirteenth ICLS, 6.18).

Economy (of reference): "Economy" (or "economy of reference") is an economic reference defined in the same way as in the balance of payments and in the system of national accounts: it refers to the economic agents that are resident in the country of reference ( IRTS 2008, 2.15 ).

Education tourism : Education tourism covers those types of tourism which have as a primary motivation the tourist's engagement and experience in learning, self-improvement, intellectual growth and skills development. Education Tourism represents a broad range of products and services related to academic studies, skill enhancement holidays, school trips, sports training, career development courses and language courses, among others.

Employees : Employees are all those workers who hold the type of job defined as "paid employment" (ILO, Fifteenth ICLS, pp. 20-22).

Employer-employee relationship : An employer-employee relationship exists when there is an agreement, which may be formal or informal, between an entity and an individual, normally entered into voluntarily by both parties, whereby the individual works for the entity in return for remuneration in cash or in kind ( BPM6, 11.11 ).

Employers : Employers are those workers who, working on their own account with one or more partners, hold the type of job defined as a "self-employment job" and, in this capacity, on a continuous basis (including the reference period) have engaged one or more persons to work for them in their business as "employee(s)" (ILO, Fifteenth ICLS, pp. 20-22).

Employment : Persons in employment are all persons above a specified age who, during a specified brief period, either one week or one day, were in paid employment or self-employment (OECD GST, p. 170).

Employment in tourism industries : Employment in tourism industries may be measured as a count of the persons employed in tourism industries in any of their jobs, as a count of the persons employed in tourism industries in their main job, or as a count of the jobs in tourism industries ( IRTS 2008, 7.9 ).

Enterprise : An enterprise is an institutional unit engaged in production of goods and/or services. It may be a corporation, a non-profit institution, or an unincorporated enterprise. Corporate enterprises and non-profit institutions are complete institutional units. An unincorporated enterprise, however, refers to an institutional unit —a household or government unit —only in its capacity as a producer of goods and services (OECD BD4, p. 232)

Establishment : An establishment is an enterprise, or part of an enterprise, that is situated in a single location and in which only a single productive activity is carried out or in which the principal productive activity accounts for most of the value added ( SNA 2008, 5.14 ).

Estimation : Estimation is concerned with inference about the numerical value of unknown population values from incomplete data such as a sample. If a single figure is calculated for each unknown parameter the process is called "point estimation". If an interval is calculated within which the parameter is likely, in some sense, to lie, the process is called "interval estimation".

Exports of goods and services : Exports of goods and services consist of sales, barter, or gifts or grants, of goods and services from residents to non-residents (OECD GST, p. 194)

Frame : A list, map or other specification of the units which define a population to be completely enumerated or sampled.

Forms of tourism : There are three basic forms of tourism: domestic tourism, inbound tourism, and outbound tourism. These can be combined in various ways to derive the following additional forms of tourism: internal tourism, national tourism and international tourism.

Gastronomy tourism :  Gastronomy tourism is a type of tourism activity which is characterized by the visitor's experience linked with food and related products and activities while travelling. Along with authentic, traditional, and/or innovative culinary experiences, Gastronomy Tourism may also involve other related activities such as visiting the local producers, participating in food festivals and attending cooking classes. Eno-tourism (wine tourism), as a sub-type of gastronomy tourism, refers to tourism whose purpose is visiting vineyards, wineries, tasting, consuming and/or purchasing wine, often at or near the source.

Goods : Goods are physical, produced objects for which a demand exists, over which ownership rights can be established and whose ownership can be transferred from one institutional unit to another by engaging in transactions on markets ( SNA 2008, p. 623 ).

Gross fixed capital formation : Gross fixed capital formation is defined as the value of institutional units' acquisitions less disposals of fixed assets. Fixed assets are produced assets (such as machinery, equipment, buildings or other structures) that are used repeatedly or continuously in production over several accounting periods (more than one year) ( SNA 2008, 1.52 ).

Gross margin : The gross margin of a provider of reservation services is the difference between the value at which the intermediated service is sold and the value accrued to the provider of reservation services for this intermediated service.

Gross value added : Gross value added is the value of output less the value of intermediate consumption ( TSA:RMF 2008, 3.32 ).

Gross value added of tourism industries : Gross value added of tourism industries (GVATI) is the total gross value added of all establishments belonging to tourism industries, regardless of whether all their output is provided to visitors and the degree of specialization of their production process ( TSA:RMF 2008, 4.86 ).

Grossing up : Activity aimed at transforming, based on statistical methodology, micro-data from samples into aggregate-level information representative of the target population.

Health tourism : Health tourism covers those types of tourism which have as a primary motivation, the contribution to physical, mental and/or spiritual health through medical and wellness-based activities which increase the capacity of individuals to satisfy their own needs and function better as individuals in their environment and society. Health tourism is the umbrella term for the subtypes wellness tourism and medical tourism.

Imputation : Procedure for entering a value for a specific data item where the response is missing or unusable.

Inbound tourism : Inbound tourism comprises the activities of a non-resident visitor within the country of reference on an inbound tourism trip ( IRTS 2008, 2.39 ).

Inbound tourism consumption : Inbound tourism consumption is the tourism consumption of a non-resident visitor within the economy of reference ( TSA:RMF 2008, figure 2.1 ).

Inbound tourism expenditure : Inbound tourism expenditure is the tourism expenditure of a non-resident visitor within the economy of reference ( IRTS 2008, 4.15(b) ).

Innovation in tourism : Innovation in tourism is the introduction of a new or improved component which intends to bring tangible and intangible benefits to tourism stakeholders and the local community, improve the value of the tourism experience and the core competencies of the tourism sector and hence enhance tourism competitiveness and /or sustainability. Innovation in tourism may cover potential areas, such as tourism destinations, tourism products, technology, processes, organizations and business models, skills, architecture, services, tools and/or practices for management, marketing, communication, operation, quality assurance and pricing.

Institutional sector : An aggregation of institutional units on the basis of the type of producer and depending on their principal activity and function, which are considered to be indicative of their economic behaviour.

Institutional unit : The elementary economic decision-making centre characterised by uniformity of behaviour and decision-making autonomy in the exercise of its principal function.

Intermediate consumption : Intermediate consumption consists of the value of the goods and services consumed as inputs by a process of production, excluding fixed assets whose consumption is recorded as consumption of fixed capital ( SNA 2008, 6.213 ).

Internal tourism : Internal tourism comprises domestic tourism and inbound tourism, that is to say, the activities of resident and non-resident visitors within the country of reference as part of domestic or international tourism trips ( IRTS 2008, 2.40(a) ).

Internal tourism consumption : Internal tourism consumption is the tourism consumption of both resident and non-resident visitors within the economy of reference. It is the sum of domestic tourism consumption and inbound tourism consumption ( TSA:RMF 2008, figure 2.1 ).

Internal tourism expenditure : Internal tourism expenditure comprises all tourism expenditure of visitors, both resident and non-resident, within the economy of reference. It is the sum of domestic tourism expenditure and inbound tourism expenditure. It includes acquisition of goods and services imported into the country of reference and sold to visitors. This indicator provides the most comprehensive measurement of tourism expenditure in the economy of reference ( IRTS 2008, 4.20(a) ).

International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities : The International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC) consists of a coherent and consistent classification structure of economic activities based on a set of internationally agreed concepts, definitions, principles and classification rules. It provides a comprehensive framework within which economic data can be collected and reported in a format that is designed for purposes of economic analysis, decision-taking and policymaking. The classification structure represents a standard format to organize detailed information about the state of an economy according to economic principles and perceptions (ISIC, Rev.4, 1).

International tourism : International tourism comprises inbound tourism and outbound tourism, that is to say, the activities of resident visitors outside the country of reference, either as part of domestic or outbound tourism trips and the activities of non-resident visitors within the country of reference on inbound tourism trips ( IRTS 2008, 2.40(c) ).

International visitor : An international traveller qualifies as an international visitor with respect to the country of reference if: (a) he/she is on a tourism trip and (b) he/she is a non-resident travelling in the country of reference or a resident travelling outside of it ( IRTS 2008, 2.42 ).

Job : The agreement between an employee and the employer defines a job and each self-employed person has a job ( SNA 2008, 19.30 ).

Measurement error : Error in reading, calculating or recording numerical value.

Medical tourism : Medical tourism is a type of tourism activity which involves the use of evidence-based medical healing resources and services (both invasive and non-invasive). This may include diagnosis, treatment, cure, prevention and rehabilitation.

Meetings industry : To highlight purposes relevant to the meetings industry, if a trip's main purpose is business/professional, it can be further subdivided into "attending meetings, conferences or congresses, trade fairs and exhibitions" and "other business and professional purposes". The term meetings industry is preferred by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and Reed Travel over the acronym MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) which does not recognize the industrial nature of such activities.

Metadata : Data that defines and describes other data and processes.

MICE : See meetings industry.

Microdata : Non-aggregated observations, or measurements of characteristics of individual units.

Mirror statistics : Mirror statistics are used to conduct bilateral comparisons of two basic measures of a trade flow and are a traditional tool for detecting the causes of asymmetries in statistics (OECD GST, p. 335).

Mountain tourism : Mountain tourism is a type of tourism activity which takes place in a defined and limited geographical space such as hills or mountains with distinctive characteristics and attributes that are inherent to a specific landscape, topography, climate, biodiversity (flora and fauna) and local community. It encompasses a broad range of outdoor leisure and sports activities.

National tourism : National tourism comprises domestic tourism and outbound tourism, that is to say, the activities of resident visitors within and outside the country of reference, either as part of domestic or outbound tourism trips ( IRTS 2008, 2.40(b) ).

National tourism consumption : National tourism consumption is the tourism consumption of resident visitors, within and outside the economy of reference. It is the sum of domestic tourism consumption and outbound tourism consumption ( TSA:RMF 2008, figure 2.1 ).

National tourism expenditure : National tourism expenditure comprises all tourism expenditure of resident visitors within and outside the economy of reference. It is the sum of domestic tourism expenditure and outbound tourism expenditure ( IRTS 2008, 4.20(b) ).

Nationality : The concept of "country of residence" of a traveller is different from that of his/her nationality or citizenship ( IRTS 2008, 2.19 ).

Non-monetary indicators : Data measured in physical or other non-monetary units should not be considered a secondary part of a satellite account. They are essential components, both for the information they provide directly and in order to analyse the monetary data adequately ( SNA 2008, 29.84 ).

Observation unit : entity on which information is received and statistics are compiled.

Outbound tourism : Outbound tourism comprises the activities of a resident visitor outside the country of reference, either as part of an outbound tourism trip or as part of a domestic tourism trip ( IRTS 2008, 2.39(c) ).

Outbound tourism consumption : Outbound tourism consumption is the tourism consumption of a resident visitor outside the economy of reference ( TSA:RMF 2008, figure 2.1 ).

Outbound tourism expenditure : Outbound tourism expenditure is the tourism expenditure of a resident visitor outside the economy of reference ( IRTS 2008, 4.15(c) ).

Output : Output is defined as the goods and services produced by an establishment, a) excluding the value of any goods and services used in an activity for which the establishment does not assume the risk of using the products in production, and b) excluding the value of goods and services consumed by the same establishment except for goods and services used for capital formation (fixed capital or changes in inventories) or own final consumption ( SNA 2008, 6.89 ).

Output (main): The main output of a (productive) activity should be determined by reference to the value added of the goods sold or services rendered (ISIC rev.4, 114).

Pilot survey : The aim of a pilot survey is to test the questionnaire (pertinence of the questions, understanding of questions by those being interviewed, duration of the interview) and to check various potential sources for sampling and non-sampling errors: for instance, the place in which the surveys are carried out and the method used, the identification of any omitted answers and the reason for the omission, problems of communicating in various languages, translation, the mechanics of data collection, the organization of field work, etc.

Place of usual residence : The place of usual residence is the geographical place where the enumerated person usually resides, and is defined by the location of his/her principal dwelling (Principles and recommendations for population and housing censuses of the United Nations, 2.20 to 2.24).

Probability sample : A sample selected by a method based on the theory of probability (random process), that is, by a method involving knowledge of the likelihood of any unit being selected.

Production account : The production account records the activity of producing goods and services as defined within the SNA. Its balancing item, gross value added, is defined as the value of output less the value of intermediate consumption and is a measure of the contribution to GDP made by an individual producer, industry or sector. Gross value added is the source from which the primary incomes of the SNA are generated and is therefore carried forward into the primary distribution of income account. Value added and GDP may also be measured net by deducting consumption of fixed capital, a figure representing the decline in value during the period of the fixed capital used in a production process ( SNA 2008, 1.17 ).

Production : Economic production may be defined as an activity carried out under the control and responsibility of an institutional unit that uses inputs of labour, capital, and goods and services to produce outputs of goods or services ( SNA 2008, 6.24. ).

Purpose of a tourism trip (main): The main purpose of a tourism trip is defined as the purpose in the absence of which the trip would not have taken place ( IRTS 2008, 3.10. ). Classification of tourism trips according to the main purpose refers to nine categories: this typology allows the identification of different subsets of visitors (business visitors, transit visitors, etc.) See also destination of a tourism trip ( IRTS 2008, 3.14 ).

Quality of a tourism destination : Quality of a tourism destination is the result of a process which implies the satisfaction of all tourism product and service needs, requirements and expectations of the consumer at an acceptable price, in conformity with mutually accepted contractual conditions and the implicit underlying factors such as safety and security, hygiene, accessibility, communication, infrastructure and public amenities and services. It also involves aspects of ethics, transparency and respect towards the human, natural and cultural environment. Quality, as one of the key drivers of tourism competitiveness, is also a professional tool for organizational, operational and perception purposes for tourism suppliers.

Questionnaire and Questionnaire design : Questionnaire is a group or sequence of questions designed to elicit information on a subject, or sequence of subjects, from a reporting unit or from another producer of official statistics. Questionnaire design is the design (text, order, and conditions for skipping) of the questions used to obtain the data needed for the survey.

Reference period : The period of time or point in time to which the measured observation is intended to refer.

Relevance : The degree to which statistics meet current and potential users' needs.

Reliability : Closeness of the initial estimated value to the subsequent estimated value.

Reporting unit : Unit that supplies the data for a given survey instance, like a questionnaire or interview. Reporting units may, or may not, be the same as the observation unit.

Residents/non-residents : The residents of a country are individuals whose centre of predominant economic interest is located in its economic territory. For a country, the non-residents are individuals whose centre of predominant economic interest is located outside its economic territory.

Response and non-response : Response and non-response to various elements of a survey entail potential errors.

Response error : Response errors may be defined as those arising from the interviewing process. Such errors may be due to a number of circumstances, such as inadequate concepts or questions; inadequate training; interviewer failures; respondent failures.

Rural tourism : Rural tourism is a type of tourism activity in which the visitor's experience is related to a wide range of products generally linked to nature-based activities, agriculture, rural lifestyle / culture, angling and sightseeing. Rural tourism activities take place in non-urban (rural) areas with the following characteristics:

  • Low population density;
  • Landscape and land-use dominated by agriculture and forestry; and
  • Traditional social structure and lifestyle

Same-day visitor (or excursionist): A visitor (domestic, inbound or outbound) is classified as a tourist (or overnight visitor), if his/her trip includes an overnight stay, or as a same-day visitor (or excursionist) otherwise ( IRTS 2008, 2.13 ).

Sample : A subset of a frame where elements are selected based on a process with a known probability of selection.

Sample survey : A survey which is carried out using a sampling method.

Sampling error : That part of the difference between a population value and an estimate thereof, derived from a random sample, which is due to the fact that only a subset of the population is enumerated.

Satellite accounts : There are two types of satellite accounts, serving two different functions. The first type, sometimes called an internal satellite, takes the full set of accounting rules and conventions of the SNA but focuses on a particular aspect of interest by moving away from the standard classifications and hierarchies. Examples are tourism, coffee production and environmental protection expenditure. The second type, called an external satellite, may add non-economic data or vary some of the accounting conventions or both. It is a particularly suitable way to explore new areas in a research context. An example may be the role of volunteer labour in the economy ( SNA 2008, 29.85 ).

SDMX, Statistical Data and Metadata Exchange : Set of technical standards and content-oriented guidelines, together with an IT architecture and tools, to be used for the efficient exchange and sharing of statistical data and metadata (SDMX).

Seasonal adjustment : Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique to remove the effects of seasonal calendar influences on a series. Seasonal effects usually reflect the influence of the seasons themselves, either directly or through production series related to them, or social conventions. Other types of calendar variation occur as a result of influences such as number of days in the calendar period, the accounting or recording practices adopted or the incidence of moving holidays.

Self-employment job : Self-employment jobs are those jobs where remuneration is directly dependent upon the profits (or the potential of profits) derived from the goods or services produced.

Self-employed with paid employees : Self-employed with paid employees are classified as employers.

Self-employed without employees : Self-employed without employees are classified as own-account workers.

Services : Services are the result of a production activity that changes the conditions of the consuming units, or facilitates the exchange of products or financial assets. They cannot be traded separately from their production. By the time their production is completed, they must have been provided to the consumers ( SNA 2008, 6.17 ).

Social transfers in kind : A special case of transfers in kind is that of social transfers in kind. These consist of goods and services provided by general government and non-profit institutions serving households (NPISHs) that are delivered to individual households. Health and education services are the prime examples. Rather than provide a specified amount of money to be used to purchase medical and educational services, the services are often provided in kind to make sure that the need for the services is met. (Sometimes the recipient purchases the service and is reimbursed by the insurance or assistance scheme. Such a transaction is still treated as being in kind because the recipient is merely acting as the agent of the insurance scheme) (SNA 2008, 3.83).

Sports tourism : Sports tourism is a type of tourism activity which refers to the travel experience of the tourist who either observes as a spectator or actively participates in a sporting event generally involving commercial and non-commercial activities of a competitive nature.

Standard classification : Classifications that follow prescribed rules and are generally recommended and accepted.

Statistical error : The unknown difference between the retained value and the true value.

Statistical indicator : A data element that represents statistical data for a specified time, place, and other characteristics, and is corrected for at least one dimension (usually size) to allow for meaningful comparisons.

Statistical metadata : Data about statistical data.

Statistical unit : Entity about which information is sought and about which statistics are compiled. Statistical units may be identifiable legal or physical entities or statistical constructs.

Survey : An investigation about the characteristics of a given population by means of collecting data from a sample of that population and estimating their characteristics through the systematic use of statistical methodology.

System of National Accounts : The System of National Accounts (SNA) is the internationally agreed standard set of recommendations on how to compile measures of economic activity in accordance with strict accounting conventions based on economic principles. The recommendations are expressed in terms of a set of concepts, definitions, classifications and accounting rules that comprise the internationally agreed standard for measuring indicators of economic performance. The accounting framework of the SNA allows economic data to be compiled and presented in a format that is designed for purposes of economic analysis, decision-taking and policymaking ( SNA 2008, 1.1 ).

Total tourism internal demand : Total tourism internal demand, is the sum of internal tourism consumption, tourism gross fixed capital formation and tourism collective consumption ( TSA:RMF 2008, 4.114 ). It does not include outbound tourism consumption.

Tourism : Tourism refers to the activity of visitors ( IRTS 2008, 2.9 ).

Tourism characteristic activities : Tourism characteristic activities are the activities that typically produce tourism characteristic products. As the industrial origin of a product (the ISIC industry that produces it) is not a criterion for the aggregation of products within a similar CPC category, there is no strict one-to-one relationship between products and the industries producing them as their principal outputs ( IRTS 2008, 5.11 ).

Tourism characteristic products : Tourism characteristic products are those that satisfy one or both of the following criteria: a) Tourism expenditure on the product should represent a significant share total tourism expenditure (share-of-expenditure/demand condition); b) Tourism expenditure on the product should represent a significant share of the supply of the product in the economy (share-of-supply condition). This criterion implies that the supply of a tourism characteristic product would cease to exist in meaningful quantity in the absence of visitors ( IRTS 2008, 5.10 ).

Tourism connected products : Their significance within tourism analysis for the economy of reference is recognized although their link to tourism is very limited worldwide. Consequently, lists of such products will be country-specific ( IRTS 2008, 5.12 ).

Tourism consumption : Tourism consumption has the same formal definition as tourism expenditure. Nevertheless, the concept of tourism consumption used in the Tourism Satellite Account goes beyond that of tourism expenditure. Besides the amount paid for the acquisition of consumption goods and services, as well as valuables for own use or to give away, for and during tourism trips, which corresponds to monetary transactions (the focus of tourism expenditure), it also includes services associated with vacation accommodation on own account, tourism social transfers in kind and other imputed consumption. These transactions need to be estimated using sources different from information collected directly from the visitors, such as reports on home exchanges, estimations of rents associated with vacation homes, calculations of financial intermediation services indirectly measured (FISIM), etc. ( TSA:RMF 2008, 2.25 ).

Tourism destination : A tourism destination is a physical space with or without administrative and/or analytical boundaries in which a visitor can spend an overnight. It is the cluster (co-location) of products and services, and of activities and experiences along the tourism value chain and a basic unit of analysis of tourism. A destination incorporates various stakeholders and can network to form larger destinations. It is also intangible with its image and identity which may influence its market competitiveness.

Tourism direct gross domestic product : Tourism direct gross domestic product (TDGDP) is the sum of the part of gross value added (at basic prices) generated by all industries in response to internal tourism consumption plus the amount of net taxes on products and imports included within the value of this expenditure at purchasers' prices ( TSA:RMF 2008, 4.96 ).

Tourism direct gross value added : Tourism direct gross value added (TDGVA) is the part of gross value added generated by tourism industries and other industries of the economy that directly serve visitors in response to internal tourism consumption ( TSA:RMF 2008, 4.88 ).

Tourism expenditure : Tourism expenditure refers to the amount paid for the acquisition of consumption goods and services, as well as valuables, for own use or to give away, for and during tourism trips. It includes expenditures by visitors themselves, as well as expenses that are paid for or reimbursed by others ( IRTS 2008, 4.2 ).

Tourism industries : The tourism industries comprise all establishments for which the principal activity is a tourism characteristic activity. Tourism industries (also referred to as tourism activities) are the activities that typically producetourism characteristic products. The term tourism industries is equivalent to tourism characteristic activities and the two terms are sometimes used synonymously in the IRTS 2008, 5.10, 5.11 and figure 5.1 .

Tourism product : A tourism product is a combination of tangible and intangible elements, such as natural, cultural and man-made resources, attractions, facilities, services and activities around a specific center of interest which represents the core of the destination marketing mix and creates an overall visitor experience including emotional aspects for the potential customers. A tourism product is priced and sold through distribution channels and it has a life-cycle.

Tourism ratio : For each variable of supply in the Tourism Satellite Account, the tourism ratiois the ratio between the total value of tourism share and total value of the corresponding variable in the Tourism Satellite Account expressed in percentage form ( TSA:RMF 2008, 4.56 ). (See also Tourism share).

Tourism Satellite Account : The Tourism Satellite Account is the second international standard on tourism statistics (Tourism Satellite Account: Recommended Methodological Framework 2008 –TSA:RMF 2008) that has been developed in order to present economic data relative to tourism within a framework of internal and external consistency with the rest of the statistical system through its link to the System of National Accounts. It is the basic reconciliation framework of tourism statistics. As a statistical tool for the economic accounting of tourism, the TSA can be seen as a set of 10 summary tables, each with their underlying data and representing a different aspect of the economic data relative to tourism: inbound, domestic tourism and outbound tourism expenditure, internal tourism expenditure, production accounts of tourism industries, the Gross Value Added (GVA) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) attributable to tourism demand, employment, investment, government consumption, and non-monetary indicators.

Tourism Satellite Account aggregates : The compilation of the following aggregates, which represent a set of relevant indicators of the size of tourism in an economy is recommended ( TSA:RMF 2008, 4.81 ):

  • Internal tourism expenditure;
  • Internal tourism consumption;
  • Gross value added of tourism industries (GVATI);
  • Tourism direct gross value added (TDGVA);
  • Tourism direct gross domestic product (TDGDP).

Tourism sector : The tourism sector, as contemplated in the TSA, is the cluster of production units in different industries that provide consumption goods and services demanded by visitors. Such industries are called tourism industries because visitor acquisition represents such a significant share of their supply that, in the absence of visitors, their production of these would cease to exist in meaningful quantity.

Tourism share : Tourism share is the share of the corresponding fraction of internal tourism consumption in each component of supply ( TSA:RMF 2008, 4.51 ). For each industry, the tourism share of output (in value), is the sum of the tourism share corresponding to each product component of its output ( TSA:RMF 2008, 4.55 ). (See also Tourism ratio ).

Tourism single-purpose consumer durable goods : Tourism single-purpose consumer durables is a specific category of consumer durable goods that include durable goods that are used exclusively, or almost exclusively, by individuals while on tourism trips ( TSA:RMF 2008 , 2.41 and Annex 5 ).

Tourism trip : Trips taken by visitors are tourism trips ( IRTS 2008, 2.29 ).

Tourist (or overnight visitor): A visitor (domestic, inbound or outbound) is classified as a tourist (or overnight visitor), if his/her trip includes an overnight stay, or as a same-day visitor (or excursionist) otherwise ( IRTS 2008, 2.13 ).

Tourism value chain : The tourism value chain is the sequence of primary and support activities which are strategically fundamental for the performance of the tourism sector. Linked processes such as policy making and integrated planning, product development and packaging, promotion and marketing, distribution and sales and destination operations and services are the key primary activities of the tourism value chain. Support activities involve transport and infrastructure, human resource development, technology and systems development and other complementary goods and services which may not be related to core tourism businesses but have a high impact on the value of tourism.

Travel / traveller : Travel refers to the activity of travellers. A traveller is someone who moves between different geographic locations, for any purpose and any duration ( IRTS 2008, 2.4 ). The visitor is a particular type of traveller and consequently tourism is a subset of travel.

Travel group : A travel group is made up of individuals or travel parties travelling together: examples are people travelling on the same package tour or youngsters attending a summer camp ( IRTS 2008, 3.5 ).

Travel item (in balance of payments): Travel is an item of the goods and services account of the balance of payments: travel credits cover goods and services for own use or to give away acquired from an economy by non-residents during visits to that economy. Travel debits cover goods and services for own use or to give away acquired from other economies by residents during visits to other economies ( BPM6, 10.86 ).

Travel party : A travel party is defined as visitors travelling together on a trip and whose expenditures are pooled ( IRTS 2008, 3.2 ).

Trip : A trip refers to the travel by a person from the time of departure from his/her usual residence until he/she returns: it thus refers to a round trip. Trips taken by visitors are tourism trips.

Urban/city tourism : Urban/city tourism is a type of tourism activity which takes place in an urban space with its inherent attributes characterized by non-agricultural based economy such as administration, manufacturing, trade and services and by being nodal points of transport. Urban/city destinations offer a broad and heterogeneous range of cultural, architectural, technological, social and natural experiences and products for leisure and business.

Usual environment: The usual environment of an individual, a key concept in tourism, is defined as the geographical area (though not necessarily a contiguous one) within which an individual conducts his/her regular life routines ( IRTS 2008, 2.21 ).

Usual residence : The place of usual residence is the geographical place where the enumerated person usually resides (Principles and recommendations for population and housing censuses of the United Nations, 2.16 to 2.18).

Vacation home : A vacation home (sometimes also designated as a holiday home) is a secondary dwelling that is visited by the members of the household mostly for purposes of recreation, vacation or any other form of leisure ( IRTS 2008, 2.27 ).

Valuables : Valuables are produced goods of considerable value that are not used primarily for purposes of production or consumption but are held as stores of value over time ( SNA 2008, 10.13 ).

Visit : A trip is made up of visits to different places.The term "tourism visit" refers to a stay in a place visited during a tourism trip ( IRTS 2008, 2.7 and 2.33 ).

Visitor : A visitor is a traveller taking a trip to a main destination outside his/her usual environment, for less than a year, for any main purpose (business, leisure or other personal purpose) other than to be employed by a resident entity in the country or place visited ( IRTS 2008, 2.9 ). A visitor (domestic, inbound or outbound) is classified as a tourist (or overnight visitor), if his/her trip includes an overnight stay, or as a same-day visitor (or excursionist) otherwise ( IRTS 2008, 2.13 ).

Wellness tourism : Wellness tourism is a type of tourism activity which aims to improve and balance all of the main domains of human life including physical, mental, emotional, occupational, intellectual and spiritual. The primary motivation for the wellness tourist is to engage in preventive, proactive, lifestyle-enhancing activities such as fitness, healthy eating, relaxation, pampering and healing treatments.

Expert Voices

The future of space tourism: op-ed

Virgin Galactic's first test passenger Beth Moses looks out the window of the VSS Unity during a test flight with pilots Dave Mackay and Michael "Sooch" Masucci, on Feb. 22, 2018.

Dylan Taylor is a global entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist who acts as the Chairman and CEO of Voyager Space Holdings and the founder of Space for Humanity , a nonprofit organization that seeks to democratize space exploration. He has also served as an active advocate and philanthropist in the space manufacturing industry and a strategic advisor for the Archmission and the Human Spaceflight Program while also acting as the co-founding patron of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. He contributed this article to's Expert Voices: Opinions and Insights .

It's true that 2020 spawned a collective feeling of retreat coupled with a FOMO (fear of missing out) that inspires us to escape a chaotic world. For now, we have the silence of nature or an eventual trip abroad, but the future can provide a more adventurous escape: one to the stars.

The NewSpace industry has its sights set on space tourism , a growing market expected to be worth at least $3 billion by 2030 . As companies like SpaceX test reusable rocket technology to make spaceflight more affordable and accessible for humans, other private firms, including Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, are investing in suborbital space tourism to take Earthlings into the very edge of space and back. While only uber-wealthy passengers and private researchers will have access to space tourism in the immediate future, the long term holds promises for ordinary citizens.

The evolution of technology plays a vital role in sending more tourists to space and a few influential trends will determine the future of space tourism, along with the progress we make both on and off our home planet.

Related: Space tourists will face big risks, as private companies gear up for paid suborbital flights

Commercial suborbital trips

Suborbital travel will likely be the space tourism subsector to materialize first, but it may also be the most short-lived. However, Blue Origin , backed by Jeff Bezos, is testing its New Shepard system that will launch customers to the edge of space in a capsule which separates from a small rocket and retreats back to Earth under parachutes. Richard Branson's company Virgin Galactic relies on a space plane, dropped from a carrier aircraft, with a rocket motor that speeds up and takes passengers high into the atmosphere.

Both companies' shuttle systems are designed to fly passengers over 50 miles above Earth's atmosphere, allowing customers to experience the feeling of weightlessness for a few minutes. Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo will launch its next human spaceflight test on Dec. 11 as Blue Origin eyes early 2021.

These brief spaceflights hold opportunities for tourism and scientific research and present unique experiences for space observation at varying trajectories and regulatory requirements. However, Axios reports concerns over declined public interest in suborbital tourism as a passing interest due to high costs and a short-lived ride. This may deflate the market as passengers await new developments in the field.

But there's some hope. Some experts look to commercial suborbital trips to take the place of long-distance air travel that can eventually cater to everyday citizens. SpaceX plans to use its Starship rocket to fly 100 people around the world in mere minutes. The company stated that a 15-hour flight to Shanghai from New York would be capable of flying in 39 minutes. According to UBS, if even only 5% of the average 150 million passengers that travel on 10 hour or longer flights pay $2,500 per trip, then returns could skyrocket to $20 billion per year in today's value.

A recent UBS report mentions, "Space tourism could be the stepping stone for the development of long-haul travel on earth serviced by space."

Related: Virgin Galactic wants to send people on superfast trips across Earth  

Orbital vacations

Orbital tourism, which entails remaining in space for at least one full orbit, is another major focus of governmental agencies and private space companies, all of which have the long-term goal to inhabit the moon and Mars. Projects from Boeing, SpaceX and Axiom Space plan to start launching tourists to the International Space Station on commercial spacecraft beginning as early as this year. SpaceX is also partnering with Space Adventures to send four tourists to low Earth orbit for a few days in late 2021 or early 2022.

As more companies consider in-space tourism, orbital vacations are set to become a popular trend. Orbital vacationing infrastructure, including orbital and lunar-based hotels, is positioned to become lucrative as space infrastructure companies already hauled in a combined $3.6 billion so far this year . 

Much of this infrastructure remains in preliminary stages, but the first approach may be to establish low-orbit hotels. One hotel design expects to send guests in a hydrogen-filled balloon with a pressurized capsule, utilizing Earth's gravity. Other options include designing or renovating an existing space station to accommodate guests. NASA, for instance, is opening up the International Space Station for commercial tourism . The Aurora Station , a planned luxury hotel that will host six guests for a $9.5 million, 12-day stay in low Earth orbit, will charge $9.5 million for the trip. It's pricey, but experts predict prices will fall like they did in the tech industry for computers and mobile phones.

A proposal for expandable space habitats may also serve as orbital hotels. Made of unique materials and easily stored at home, they are launched to space where they're inflated to true size. Bigelow Space invented the B330 , a space habitat that enlarges to form a hotel or living area for humans in space. As demand increases, they are interconnected to other inflatable habitats to increase their size. Bigelow also plans to develop an attached inflated module to the International Space Station as one of the first hotels in space. In-space vacations will eventually be the gateway for moon and Mars habitation.

Nurturing the space and world economies

Private space companies are devotedly investing across space tourism and firms like UBS consider access to space an enabler to broader opportunities for investment.

More next-generation engineers will enter the space tourism sector for the scope of opportunities and innovation, eventually decreasing the barriers to entry that will increase competition, lower costs, and ultimately democratize space travel for everyday citizens. 

Of course, there are crucial safety, comfort and health factors to consider. Training, medical screenings and liability waivers will need to be examined before tourists head to space. 

Space tourism will be a small subsector of the industry, but it will bolster the entire NewSpace industry. Once space tourism does become mainstream, it will also positively impact many socioeconomic factors on Earth: creating jobs, educating citizens about space and fostering a new solar-based energy infrastructure. The sweet escape to the stars can eventually awaken us to the awe-inspiring potential of space exploration while also giving us a better appreciation of home.

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space tourism

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  • Meaning of space tourism

space tourism ( English)

  • space travel for recreational , leisure or business purposes.

▾  Further examples

Boeing plans to invest $20 million in Virgin Galactic, looking at possibilities beyond the space tourism company's immediate goal of launching passengers on suborbital flights as early as next year., 9 October 2019

Space tourism is human space travel for recreational purposes. There are several different types of space tourism , including orbital, suborbital and lunar space tourism . Space tourism - Wikipedia

The Space Tourism Society (STS) was founded in 1996. It is the first organization specifically focused on the space tourism industry. Space Tourism Society - Wikipedia

The space tourism industry (see List of private spaceflight companies) is being targeted by spaceports in numerous locations worldwide. Spaceport - Wikipedia

Roscosmos also provides space tourism for fare-paying passengers to ISS through the Space Adventures company. Roscosmos - Wikipedia

Japanese fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa and his assistant lifted off on a Russian rocket en route for the International Space Station. The launch also marks Russia's return to space tourism after a 12-year pause. Deutsche Welle, 8 December 2021

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has been criticised on social media for continuing to cheer on his latest venture in space tourism amid the aftermath of a deadly tornado at an Amazon warehouse., 13 December 2021

▾  Dictionary entries

Entries where "space tourism" occurs:

space : …space simulator space station space suit space suppression space technology space tourism space velocity space walk space wave space weapon space weather…

tourism : …mass tourism medical tourism religious tourism romance tourism sex tourism space tourism suicide tourism sustainable tourism thanatourism tourist VFR…

Citations:Star Trekky : …is one of the key drivers of the future, where flying cars, internet capable contact lenses, resurrection of extinct life, the end of death, space tourism and everything else Star Trekky…

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Space Tourism Words

Words related to space tourism.

Below is a massive list of space tourism words - that is, words related to space tourism. The top 4 are: aerospace , space shuttle , virgin galactic and mir . You can get the definition(s) of a word in the list below by tapping the question-mark icon next to it. The words at the top of the list are the ones most associated with space tourism, and as you go down the relatedness becomes more slight. By default, the words are sorted by relevance/relatedness, but you can also get the most common space tourism terms by using the menu below, and there's also the option to sort the words alphabetically so you can get space tourism words starting with a particular letter. You can also filter the word list so it only shows words that are also related to another word of your choosing. So for example, you could enter "aerospace" and click "filter", and it'd give you words that are related to space tourism and aerospace.

You can highlight the terms by the frequency with which they occur in the written English language using the menu below. The frequency data is extracted from the English Wikipedia corpus, and updated regularly. If you just care about the words' direct semantic similarity to space tourism, then there's probably no need for this.

There are already a bunch of websites on the net that help you find synonyms for various words, but only a handful that help you find related , or even loosely associated words. So although you might see some synonyms of space tourism in the list below, many of the words below will have other relationships with space tourism - you could see a word with the exact opposite meaning in the word list, for example. So it's the sort of list that would be useful for helping you build a space tourism vocabulary list, or just a general space tourism word list for whatever purpose, but it's not necessarily going to be useful if you're looking for words that mean the same thing as space tourism (though it still might be handy for that).

If you're looking for names related to space tourism (e.g. business names, or pet names), this page might help you come up with ideas. The results below obviously aren't all going to be applicable for the actual name of your pet/blog/startup/etc., but hopefully they get your mind working and help you see the links between various concepts. If your pet/blog/etc. has something to do with space tourism, then it's obviously a good idea to use concepts or words to do with space tourism.

If you don't find what you're looking for in the list below, or if there's some sort of bug and it's not displaying space tourism related words, please send me feedback using this page. Thanks for using the site - I hope it is useful to you! 👾

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  • space shuttle
  • virgin galactic
  • space adventures
  • international space station
  • space station
  • christa mcauliffe
  • recreational
  • pseudospace
  • columbia disaster
  • spaceworthy
  • interkosmos
  • hammerspace
  • businesslike
  • nonbusiness
  • spacefaring
  • human spaceflight
  • astronavigation
  • entrepreneur
  • startup companies
  • heliosphere
  • subarachnoid space
  • businessperson
  • xcor aerospace
  • russian space agency
  • space simulator
  • businessman
  • corporation
  • screenspace
  • conservancy
  • commercial spaceflight federation
  • orbital spaceflight
  • interstellar space
  • businesswoman
  • dead air space
  • noncommercial
  • warsaw pact
  • transaction
  • exoatmospheric
  • space guidance
  • non-aligned movement
  • perestroika
  • multinational
  • astrophobia
  • commercially
  • space alien
  • partnership
  • space reconnaissance
  • kuiper belt
  • papermaking
  • space opera
  • european space agency
  • interplanetary space
  • payload specialist
  • shareholder
  • freemasonry
  • cooperative
  • outer space
  • dressmaking
  • tradesperson
  • ulf merbold
  • corporatism
  • commercialize
  • phase space
  • extragalactic
  • byron k. lichtenberg
  • macrocosmic
  • circumjovial
  • untradeable
  • syndication
  • many planet
  • massachusetts institute of technology
  • metric space
  • united states air force
  • intercourse
  • intertraffic
  • transactive
  • merchandise
  • journeywork
  • occupational
  • inertial space
  • sole proprietorship
  • transorbital
  • charles d. walker
  • thick space
  • corporisation
  • mcdonnell douglas
  • mastercraftsman
  • commercial enterprise
  • space satellite
  • proprietary trade
  • mathematical space
  • businesswear
  • cybercommerce
  • space velocity
  • bill nelson
  • enterprise union
  • depositary receipt
  • rockwell international
  • nonexchange
  • single space
  • big business
  • national space society
  • lunar orbit
  • chamber of commerce
  • hydrogen atom
  • space technology
  • space power system
  • do business
  • teacher in space
  • space redden
  • cosmic dust
  • business architect
  • walter cronkite
  • space communication
  • space perception
  • hilbert space
  • breathe space
  • molecular cloud
  • business girl
  • astronomical object
  • commercial activity
  • space capsule
  • insider trade
  • space polar coordinate
  • livery company
  • sam donaldson
  • market product
  • interstellar planet
  • challenger disaster
  • bragg's law
  • indoor space
  • barbara morgan
  • business trip
  • transportation
  • astronautics
  • accommodation
  • aeronautics
  • business activity
  • stock ticker symbol
  • space debris
  • stock company
  • dwarf spheroidal galaxy
  • initial public offer
  • other planet
  • joint stock company
  • stock exchange
  • mission specialist
  • outer solar system
  • ionize radiation
  • amorphous shape
  • hold company
  • vector space
  • business plan
  • dwarf galaxy
  • heavenly body
  • miles o'brien
  • purchase agent
  • slave trade
  • topological space
  • parallel universe
  • orbit earth
  • multiple star
  • lunar occultation
  • asteroid belt
  • euclidean space
  • ethical investment
  • planetary body
  • wander star
  • in universe
  • celestial body
  • spiral galaxy
  • sale activity
  • escort service
  • galactic halo
  • satellite planet
  • market share
  • term of trade
  • magellanic cloud
  • tokyo broadcasting system
  • black marketeer
  • balance of trade
  • factor market
  • quid pro quo
  • commodity exchange
  • toyohiro akiyama
  • cap and trade
  • free market

That's about all the space tourism related words we've got! I hope this list of space tourism terms was useful to you in some way or another. The words down here at the bottom of the list will be in some way associated with space tourism, but perhaps tenuously (if you've currenly got it sorted by relevance, that is). If you have any feedback for the site, please share it here , but please note this is only a hobby project, so I may not be able to make regular updates to the site. Have a nice day! 🐾


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  2. Everything You Need to Know About Space Tourism

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  3. Space tourism explained: What, why and where

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  4. Advantages and Disadvantages of Space Tourism

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  5. Advantages and Disadvantages of Space Tourism

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  6. What is Space Tourism? A New Definition ⋆ Space Tourism Guide

    space tourism word meaning



    Meaning of space tourism in English space tourism noun [ U ] uk / ˈspeɪs ˌtʊə.rɪ.z ə m / us / ˈspeɪs ˌtʊr.ɪ.z ə m / Add to word list the activity of travelling into space for pleasure and interest, rather than as a job: He believes space tourism has a great future. SMART Vocabulary: related words and phrases Space travel airlock astronaut

  2. What is Space Tourism? A New Definition

    The definition of space tourism is "the practice of traveling into space for recreational, leisure, or business purposes." Said another way, any space tourism definition should focus on going to space for fun. But is that all that space tourism is?

  3. What Is Space Tourism

    It's divided into different types, including orbital, suborbital, and lunar space tourism. However, there are broader definitions for space tourism. According to the Space Tourism Guide, space tourism is a commercial activity related to space that includes going to space as a tourist, watching a rocket launch, going stargazing, or traveling ...

  4. Space tourism

    Space tourism is human space travel for recreational purposes. There are several different types of space tourism, including orbital, suborbital and lunar space tourism. During the period from 2001 to 2009, seven space tourists made eight space flights aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station, brokered by Space Adventures in conjunction with Roscosmos and RSC Energia.

  5. Space tourism explained: What, why and where

    There are a total of 600 people that have been to space. The first man visited space in 1961, but it was actually long before this day that many people developed an interest in space. In fact, people have been star gazing as long as records go back. Heck, even the ancient pyramids of Egypt were built around the stars.

  6. SPACE TOURISM Definition & Usage Examples

    SPACE TOURISM Definition & Usage Examples | space tourism [ speys-t oor-iz- uhm ] show ipa noun commercial travel into outer space by members of the general public, as for adventure: spaceships built for suborbital and orbital space tourism. Recommended videos Powered by AnyClip AnyClip Product Demo 2022

  7. Space tourism

    Gregory Olsen Charles Simonyi space exploration tourism suborbital space tourism space tourism, recreational space travel, either on established government-owned vehicles such as the Russian Soyuz and the International Space Station (ISS) or on vehicles fielded by private companies.

  8. 'Space tourism' flying high: It's added to Oxford dictionary

    The ODO is separate from the Oxford English Dictionary, which focuses on the historical use of words. The addition of "space tourism" was a part of the ODO's quarterly update, which also included ...

  9. SPACE TOURISM definition and meaning

    noun travel into space for recreational purposes Collins English Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers Derived forms space tourist noun Examples of 'space tourism' in a sentence space tourism

  10. 'Space Tourism' Added to Oxford Dictionary

    The newly-added entry describes "space tourism" as "the practice of travelling into space for recreational purposes." Oxford Dictionaries Online also includes with the entry an example of the...


    C1 Translations of space tourist in Chinese (Traditional) 太空遊客… See more in Chinese (Simplified) 太空游客… See more Need a translator? Get a quick, free translation! Translator tool Browse space station space suit BETA space technology BETA space tourism space tourist space transport BETA space travel BETA space western space-age Word of the Day

  12. Space Tourism Definition & Meaning

    Space Tourism definition: Space travel for recreational , leisure or business purposes.

  13. Everything You Need to Know About Space Tourism Right Now

    Total run time: between two and three hours in flight, plus two-and-a-half days of training, with a price tag of $250,000. Virgin Galactic has been conducting test flights since 2010, but progress has been a bit slow—and deadly. In 2014, a test pilot was killed after a SpaceShipTwo vehicle broke apart during a flight, primarily due to pilot ...

  14. Space tourism

    Space tourism is human space travel for non-government reasons such as private or entertainment reasons. [1] There are many different types of space tourism, including orbital, suborbital and lunar space tourism. This is being done by aerospace companies like Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic. [2] SpaceX is planning to send a space tourist to the ...

  15. Space tourism: 6 key considerations for future space travel

    Space tourism will inevitably put pressure on Earth's environment - there are claims that space vehicles may one day become the world's biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions. We will need to manage space traffic carefully to avoid disastrous collisions and steer clear of space debris.

  16. Space Tourism Is Getting More Secretive

    Virgin Galactic October 19, 2023 Listen to this article 00:00 09:13 Listen to more stories on hark Of all the high-flying tourism ventures spawned by space-obsessed billionaires, Virgin...

  17. Glossary of tourism terms

    GLOSSARY Glossary of tourism terms Tourism is a social, cultural and economic phenomenon which entails the movement of people to countries or places outside their usual environment for personal or business/professional purposes.

  18. The future of space tourism: op-ed

    According to UBS, if even only 5% of the average 150 million passengers that travel on 10 hour or longer flights pay $2,500 per trip, then returns could skyrocket to $20 billion per year in today ...

  19. Space Tourism synonyms

    suborbital exploration suborbital journey suborbital mission suborbital space travel suborbital travel Another way to say Space Tourism? Synonyms for Space Tourism (other words and phrases for Space Tourism).

  20. space tourism: meaning, translation

    Space tourism is human space travel for recreational purposes. There are several different types of space tourism, including orbital, suborbital and lunar space tourism. Space tourism - Wikipedia. The Space Tourism Society (STS) was founded in 1996. It is the first organization specifically focused on the space tourism industry.

  21. Space Travel synonyms

    Space Travel synonyms - 250 Words and Phrases for Space Travel spaceflight n. # flight space flight spacefaring n. astronautics n. orbiting n. # flight rocket flight n. # flight shuttle flight n. # flight flight n. space navigation flying into outer space voyage outside the earth's atmosphere astrogate conquest of outer space cosmonautics

  22. Space Tourism Words

    Space Tourism Words Below is a massive list of space tourism words - that is, words related to space tourism. The top 4 are: aerospace, space shuttle, virgin galactic and mir. You can get the definition (s) of a word in the list below by tapping the question-mark icon next to it.

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