$250,000 is the price paid by Ketty Maisonrouge in 2005, when she purchased her ticket to become the first space tourist.
The 61-year-old business school professor has waited 15 years to experience five minutes in zero-gravity.
Time has come as the company who sold the ticket, Virgin Galactic, has finally scheduled their first journey for 2020.
“Hopefully it will be as amazing as I think,” says Maisonrouge.
Space Tourism Industry Taking Off
Despite the prohibitive cost, Maisonrouge is not the only pioneer space tourist to have purchased a ticket. According to Virgin Galactic, 600 people have already planned their futuristic journey, including celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Bieber.
Its founder, Sir Richard Branson, will be the first to travel out of the atmosphere.
“To be able to put products as expensive as space on the market in the first place does include a high premium,” explains Julia Hunter, a senior vice-president at Virgin Galactic responsible for the running of the human spaceflight programme.
Space Tourism Companies : Sound Investment?
Sir Richard is not the only billionaire to watch the space tourism industry closely. Wall Street investors are sniffing around the business. Virgin Galactic was the first human space flight company to list its shares on the stock market in October 2019.
Read our guide to Space Travel : the Final Frontier in Tourism.
Last year, Swiss bank UBS estimated that the space tourism industry might be worth $3 billion within the next decade.
Rival space tourism company Blue Origin, initiated by Jeff Bezos the founder of Amazon, also expects flights to commence this year. While SpaceX, founded by Tesla’s Elon Musk, announced last year that a Japanese billionaire would be its first passenger to fly around the moon.
How to Become a Space Tourist
Unlike trained astronauts who undertake months of rigorous training, space tourists will have just three days to prepare for their trip.
They will take off at Virgin Galactic’s terminal at Spaceport America, in the desert of New Mexico. From here, the spaceships will start their 90-minute round trip with just a few minutes in low-orbit.
Maisonrouge has confessed that her love of space started many years ago, in 1969, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon.
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” said Armstrong as he first touched lunar soil.
She couldn’t imagine then that 50 years later she would follow in their footprints, as a pioneer space tourist.
Cover image : Moonrise from the International Space Station.
Ilaria D Cafaro
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