Is there any evidence to support the likelihood of widespread consumer space travel in, say, the next 20 years? I attempted to do some research on commercial space travel, and came across Virgin Galactic's website, where you can book a flight to space for a cool quarter million USD. However the website seemed to be missing two vital pieces of information: when flights would actually commence, and where said flight takes you. What are we talking about here, a trip up to the space station? To the moon and back? Just a bit further than the current airplane flights that take you just outside the atmosphere?
A bit more googling found an article which claims Virgin Galactic will commence flights this December. But I wasn't able to unearth any information about exactly where the flights will take passengers, and honestly—there isn't a huge subset of people who can afford $250,000 tickets. So, my questions:
- Is Virgin Galactic the only company reportedly working on consumer space travel, or are there others?
- Is there any information on where exactly these flights will take you? If the current vehicles are only capable of near-Earth travel, is there any information about plans/research to achieve craft that can fly further (ex. to the moon)?
- I assume the $250 grand price tag is in part to make up for the costs of creating the craft, and in part due to cost of fuel. Are there plans in progress anywhere for consumer spacecraft that are cheaper to build/fuel so that the price could drop down to something more budget-friendly for the average person?
Essentially I'm just looking for any hard facts and information that can be provided about current and near-future plans for consumer space craft in the areas of launch timeline, route/distance from earth, and pricing. It would be nice to know if I'm likely to get the opportunity to go to space in my lifetime :)