Central New York, Technology, Transportation

Space Tourism Expected to Change Commercial Air Travel

SpaceX Prepares to Send Tourists to the Moon

NCC News' Brendan Tierney reports that technology that SpaceX is using to send tourists to the Moon, may be coming to a commercial airplane near you.

By Brendan Tierney SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Vacations to the cosmos will soon become a reality when SpaceX launches two people on a weeklong trip around the moon in late 2018, according to a company statement.

SpaceX did not release the price of the trip, but it is likely something that the extremely wealthy can only afford, Sean O’Keefe, former NASA and aerospace executive, said.

America is at the same point with space travel that airlines were in the 1970s before they became accessible to almost everyone, O’Keefe said.

“This was something that was only reserved for the very, very wealthy, who were the very determined,” O’Keefe said.  “Over the course of time, that has made it so much more possible for all of us in order to avail ourselves with that kind of ability that was just dreamed to be impossible at the time.”

As space travel becomes more accessible and commercialized, technology will trickle down to everyday airplanes since many of the components are similar, O’Keefe said.

“It’s the same basic principles,” O’Keefe said.  “Same laws of physics, same material sciences, and so forth that are going into this, that are just now much more accessible and much less expensive to do.”

Many space age concepts have been implemented in commercial airlines after the Apollo and Shuttle programs, O’Keefe said.  These include size and weight reductions as well as material strength advances.

The next wave of space exploration, from tourism, will create even more advanced and innovative concepts that can be applied to everyday travel, O’Keefe said.

SpaceX predicts a market potential for space tourism and it motivates it to pursue commercial activities such as large investment in this initial trip around the Moon, O’Keefe said.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, like this one, will be used to fly two tourists to the Moon in 2018, according to SpaceX. (c) 2016 Bill Ingalls/NASA via Associated Press