Space Tourism Takes Off

Here’s how firms like Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and SpaceX are making sure visitors’ bodies can survive the trip.

Companies like Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin are gearing up to send tourists to the edge of space — and eventually, beyond — as soon as 2022. But for ordinary citizens, zero gravity and long flights could wreak havoc on their bodies.

Getting to space is a naturally challenging experience, especially for the human body. That’s why the firms hoping to sell trips are taking a page from NASA’s playbook and undertaking a rigorous training program for would-be travelers to mitigate things like muscle atrophy and bone loss that studies show can happen on trips outside the atmosphere.

Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are setting out to take tourists to the very edge of space. Virgin’s 90-minute tour will give customers “several minutes of weightlessness,” and a flight onboard Blue Origin’s will give you an 11-minute tour, neither of which are even close enough to the time for muscle atrophy or other effects to set in.

Still, both companies are requiring customers to take a training course prior to the expedition.

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