While the space race of the 1950s and 1960s was an exciting time to be alive, humanity has never lived through a more fast-paced period of space exploration and human spaceflight. It seems almost impossible to catch up on the news without seeing a headline about a new Mars Rover, space telescope or astronomical event – and the public clamors for all of it.
We're finally on the cusp of a huge leap in space exploration: commercial spaceflight, also known as space tourism. But advances in space tourism are mostly due to billionaires and private development, and tickets have been primarily bought by the ultra-wealthy — for instance, it costs $250,000 to book a seat on Virgin Galactic for a trip to space. And when NASA said in 2019 that it would allow private citizens to fly to the International Space Station (ISS), it put the cost to stay there at $35,000 a night, and the price to get there at around $50 million.
However, while we wait for prices to come down, there are still ways to experience space tourism on Earth. These earthly adventures cover the range of experiences you could have in space, while still fitting the budget many people have for other "bucket list" travel, like visiting Antarctica.