I was so excited to read in the Economist about Virgin Galactic's progress on space tourism. In the next year or so, they will begin taking regular ol' people up into space for a few minutes. Virgin is using an interesting system whereby the space ship is dropped from a mother plan then launched into space. Very efficient. As it turns out, they will be able to launch from any commerical airport.
I know what you are saying: Only the super rich can afford the $200,000 to go up. Yes, that is true. However, it has been that way for a long time. You could risk you life and go up in a Russian rocket if you paid enough. However, this is different. In this case, it is the goal of Virgin Galactic to get you into space. Whereas with the Russians, it was just about the big payoff.
For those of you who think this is just a waste of money for people to get shot into space, consider this: you need the early adopters to pay the big bucks early so later on, the regular guy can do it.
Just like in the case of air travel, early on only crazy people and the rich could go flying. Now, everyone with teeth has flown at some point in their lives.
Would I spend big bucks to fly into space? You bet! What an opportunity! Imagine doing something that was only dreamed about two generations back. Even if it is only for a few minutes, the idea of breaking the confines of this planet would be incredible. Yes, it is tourism and a little kitchy. Who cares? It is space...the final frontier and all.