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Space Tourism

G. Clay Whittaker
From the Print Edition:
Cigar Aficionado's 20th Anniversary, September/October 2012

Ready to blast off on the adventure of a lifetime? The sky is no longer your limit. The North Pole, Everest, deep-sea diving: these things are all the achiever’s treks of the past. And there’s only one elite destination left that’s truly like no place on earth: space.

Space Adventures offers the intrepid (who have a spare $50 million) the opportunity to blast off in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and be sent into orbit where they will dock with the International Space Station, and spend time doing barrel rolls and catching fantastic hang time on that wadded up ball of paper destined for the trash bin. What’s more, you’ll travel at 17,500 miles an hour and orbit the earth in 90 minutes.

As of today, the company is the only extant provider of arranged spaceflights for self-funded adventurers. They’ve got the numbers on their side, with seven customers amassing a cumulative total of three months in space—and 36 million miles logged. Starting in 2013—after flights were suspended in 2010 for a number of reasons—Space Adventures will once again book seats in the spaceship it has used in previous explorations. For more patriotic passengers, the company says that their launching Boeing CST-100 capsules is just three to five years away.

Don’t expect amenities for the hefty price tag. Going to the bathroom will be a bit difficult, but at least you have better beverage
options than Tang. Oh, and for an extra $15 million the folks at Space Adventures will have you certified for extravehicular activity. Yes, that means outside the spacecraft. Ninety minutes of absolute infinity as your weightless body spins 230 miles above the earth.

For the weaker of stomach, atmospheric (and affordable) options are also available. Zero gravity flights take a modified airplane on series of hilly maneuvers designed to induce a feeling of weightlessness. You can secure a slot (there are no seats in the cabin) for a little over five grand.

But for the most adventurous among you, bragging rights are still available for the top-shelf experience. Space Adventures offers a $300 million circumlunar flight, and only one of the two seats has been sold for the inaugural flight. Do you hear your T-minus clock ticking?

Visit spaceadventures.com.

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