Sputnik: Will SpaceShipTwo be able to reach the edge of space?
Dr Alice Gorman: Virgin Galactic and the SpaceShipTwo project have had a few problems — so we know about those, but so many rockets and other kinds of vehicles have in fact reached the edge of space, there are several orbital flights going on all the time. So theoretically there shouldn't be any real difficulties with achieving this milestone.
Dr Alice Gorman: I would say within the next decade. It would be possible for regular people to be able to afford to take one of these orbital flights, and have that experience of space. There are so many other factors at the moment: everybody is going to the moon, people are planning all of these Mars projects. This is only one part of the mosaic of putting this entire space ecosystem together, and my prediction is: within a decade.
Sputnik: How likely is it for this form of tourism to become more mainstream, hence cheaper and more accessible to the masses?
Dr Alice Gorman: The cost of getting into space is coming down all the time. There's been a whole group of people just waiting in the wings for this sort of thing to happen. With any space-related activities — our whole modern world relies on data from satellite systems and telecommunications from satellite systems, but none of that replaces the excitement of physical being in space. And this is really what we are talking about: we are talking about space becoming something potentially achievable for any person within their lifetime, if they save up. So it's going to be the luxury holiday that people wait for a lifetime. It's just going to be in space this time.
Sputnik: How will space tourists train to take part into a space journey?
Dr Alice Gorman: The average space tourist is not going to be called upon to fix an engineering problem. Their sole purpose is going to be to pay the money to have the experience they want to have. So the training requirements would be much, much less. They are going to be in space for hours, days, a couple of weeks at most perhaps — because it's not going to be the cheapest holiday they ever had — so the long-term effects will not be as severe as for professional astronauts. But people don't go on holiday to have injury or disease, so there will be a different kind of biomedical industry that will relate to the physical requirements of regular people.
The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.