What if Europe has its own base from which to send tourists into space? And what if Sweden became Europe’s door to outer space tourism? Somewhere near North Sami, Swedish scientists have worked tirelessly to give life to this crazy project in a domain previously dominated by Americans.
It’s not news that the Americans are pretty much ready to launch its first commercial space tourist flight out of Earth’s atmosphere. The first flights are scheduled already for 2014. Last year, Richard Branson, head of the most advanced company in this field – Virgin Galactic – inaugurated the first space airport in a desert in New Mexico.
“Spaceport Sweden” was created in 2007 and has been developing plans to launch its first space flights within ten years.
“More than a hundred kilometres above the Arctic Circle, in the land of the Northern Lights and the midnight sun, a project is underway that has the potential to chance the way people identify with their planet in the universe,”
reads the website of the company who is developing the project. Based in Kiruna, there is already a small international airport built which can connecting flights to London, Copenhagen and Tokyo as well as the Swedish space centre (officially the Swedish Institute of Space Physics) which has been conducting research since 1957.
Experience no gravity
What can a space tourist expect? First of all you’ll blast off in a space shuttle that looks a lot like what you’d expect in a science fiction comic; half-plane, half-space shuttle, for a suborbital flight at 100km altitude and experience a few minutes of true weightlessness. But the “technology is not there yet. Flight tests are currently being performed in the USA,” says the director of the company.
As you can imagine, this kind of joy ride won’t be in the budget for just any traveller. To blast yourself up into orbit isn’t like booking a Ryanair flight. In the US, more than 1,000 tickets have already been reserved with flights going for an average of $200,000.
Up in Lapland
Spaceport Sweden already offers a hot of attractions and activities for visitors in the beautiful region of Lapland, the land of space exploration and incomparable wilderness.
For example, visitors can combine stays at the iconic ICEHOTEL with passes to the local ski resorts, trips to Abisko National Park, a discovery tour of the space facilities and test training for a future space flight. The best part: spotting the Northern Lights will be the icing on the cake.Earth, like you’ve never seen before
If money were not an issue, would you sign up for space flights?