The very concept of space travel and tourism is very exciting and thrilling. With NASA’s budget being trimmed private players have slowly moved into the space and are working on solutions that is workable commercially. Celebrities like Aston Kutcher help the movement when they join Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic as their 500th customer to be propelled into space on their specially designed modern SpaceShipTwo. Events like these provide much needed publicity for the space travel programs being devised by private players. Another futurist and rocket entrepreneur Elon Musk has gone a step further and has announced a program to get passengers to a round-trip on Mars for just half a million dollars per person. It might sound like lofty futuristic ambition of an aggressive entrepreneur but people had similar thoughts when Branson had announces his space travel program. He is very close to turning it into reality as he has completed the first crewed flight of the ambitious program.
Elon Musk who owns and runs Space X has become NASA’s commercial partner and is working on solutions to take crew and cargo to the space stations. The research and development by his team has led to many technological breakthroughs that would bring down the cost of launches and space access. Musk has successfully developed his own rocket with a capsule. He has also drawn a road map for making a mission to Mars an affordable reality in the next twenty years. He is working on a reusable system which will be able to re-fuel on Mars itself. The concept seems rater futuristic and farfetched at the moment but it could become a reality in twenty years.
Musk is likely to unveil his overall strategy in detail later this year. SpaceX’s launcher Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule are being worked upon to make them capable of putting astronauts on Mars. If he succeeds in this mission he will immediately launch a commercial round trip service to Mars. The estimated price of a ticket to Mars and back is $500,000. Musk is confident that as the technology evolves the prices could come down further to make space travel affordable for a much larger section of the population. However, it is a very ambitious project and it has to cross many hurdles before it can become a reality. It could be in the year 2040 or it could even be 2060 when Musk is able to launch a commercial service to Mars.