As private astronauts become more of a reality, the cost for a ticket to space is in another galaxy.
As space business companies like Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX are increasingly close to making private flights to space a regular thing for those who can afford it, but the cost of leaving planet has not exactly come down to Earth.
That hasn't dampened enthusiasm for private space travel -- from the CEOs leading the charge and -- especially -- for the affluent aspiring astronauts who always wanted to go and who are now finally readying themselves to make their childhood dream come true. Even NASA is getting in on the trend -- announcing in June that it will have "up to two short-duration private astronaut missions per year to the space station" via SpaceX and Boeing.
The price for short flights to the edge of space to stays at the International Space station cost hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. Overcoming Earth's gravity is the greatest obstacle. For example, NASA's Saturn V rocket, which carried astronauts to the moon was mostly fuel tanks, according to Stephanie Schierholz.
The cost to launch typical cargo into space for NASA is about $3,000 per kilogram, and that doesn't recover most of the space agency's costs
From that, one can certainly infer that it is expensive to launch anything to space from Earth," Schierholz said. "That is largely a result of the 'gravity well' of Earth. Our gravity and the atmosphere that protects the planet also makes it challenging to leave it."
So, what does all this cost?
Virgin Galactic's current ticket price for going to space is $250,000 per person and could soon climb higher than that, according to The Washington Post. The company stock opened on the New York Stock Exchange at $12.01 a share, on Monday.
"We feel that the hard work has been done," Branson said on Cavuto Coast to Coast. "Now, today, we can enjoy the public investing in the company, which will then enable us to expand the company rapidly and bring the prices down."
The flight about Spaceship Two will take passengers to the edge of space and immediately return to Earth without completing an orbit. The company has sold 600 tickets so far.
Branson said that the $250,000 ticket is equivalent to the cost of crossing the Atlantic Ocean 100 years ago. Branson said that over time the cost of a ticket to space could cost about $30,000, which would make the trip much more affordable for many people.
A media spokesperson for Blue Origin was not immediately available to comment for this report.
NASA can only say what a night in space will cost, since private companies will be doing the flying there.
Based on NASA's pricing policy, a one-day stay at the International Space station will cost about $35,000, a NASA spokesperson told Fox Business. However, the actual flight to get to the ISS will reportedly cost $52 million.
Here's the breakdown of costs for a stay on the ISS:
- Life support and toilet: $11,250 per person a day
- Crew supplies like food, air and exercise equipment: $22,500 per person a day.
- Storage: $105 per cargo transfer bag equivalent, or CTBE, a day.
- Power: $42 per kilowatt-hour.
- Data downlink: $50 per gigabyte.
Despite the cost, Branson said that he believes that many people want to go to space and they will be willing to save up for a trip like they might save for any other once-in-a-lifetime vacation.
Dee Chester, a retired schoolteacher from Newport Beach, California, told The Washington Post that she purchased her ticket to ride to space upon inheriting some money two years ago: “I want to do the Superman pose, and look at the Earth and see the very thin bands of the atmosphere. I just hope I’m not crying and miss it all because it’s a big wet blur.”