Planet Earth is host to a literal world of attractions, sights, and experiences for curious travelers to explore. There are natural wonders, from mountains to rainforests to deserts, for outdoor enthusiasts and endless cultural and culinary exploits to be discovered among the many peoples and places that make up mankind's home planet. Some tourists can spend a lifetime delving into just one locale, country or region while others prefer to branch out and expand their horizons to see and do as much as they possibly can. The advent of new technology has allowed a new breed of traveler to develop a taste and ambition for travel beyond all typical conceptions, though, and excursionists looking to pioneer a new kind of experience have turned their gaze towards the stars.
Space Tourism - It's Closer Than You May Think
The idea of traveling into space used to be restricted to science fiction novels and films but rapid development of new technologies in recent decades has opened up a spacious new market for would-be cosmonauts. Ever since NASA's famed moon landing in 1969, the long dreamt-of notion of traveling into space has become a reality; and not just for pilots and astronauts, either! An undertaking normally reserved for national governments and international alliances, space travel has been pursued in the modern day by everyone from communications companies to individuals wealthy enough to fund their own lunar-bound exploits. Although private ventures have yet to land a tourist on the moon, the private space travel industry continues to grow, absorbing responsibilities from the government-funded NASA over time and expanding the scope and initiative of prospective possibilities for traveling into the cosmos.
A myriad of independently funded enterprises pursuing space travel have sprung up in the past decade and with the new associations have come new objectives and initiatives. One US company, Golden Spike, in 2012 declared its plans to have commercial flights available to the moon by 2020 and in 2013 the Inspiration Mars Foundation announced that it will be sending a 2-person team to travel to Mars and back to Earth on a 500+ day round trip in 2018. Entrepreneurs and organizations around the world have made significant stakes in privatized space travel and the industry is increasingly viewed as an opportunity for investment as the possibility for affordable travel beyond our atmosphere becomes more and more viable.
Making the Move to the Moon and Beyond
Perhaps the most intriguing plans of all are those aimed not only at visiting outer space, but rather living there permanently. In 2012, the Dutch non-profit, Mars One, announced the beginnings of a long-term program aimed at eventually sending humans on a one-way trip to colonize Mars by 2023. Other ambitious pioneers have also taken up the idea of outer space colonization, promoting the notion with ever-increasing intentness.
The thriving space exploration technologies corporation, SpaceX, has proven how serious they are about establishing cosmic settlements with a recent job posting seeking skills one wouldn't typically expect to find a need for at a rocket development and testing facility. Among the many listings of available openings on SpaceX's careers website seeking highly qualified individuals with advanced technical skills, such as "avionic vibration isolation engineer" and "computational physicist", an uncommonly simple listing stands out; "farmer". Despite the humble job title, though, the responsibilities and opportunities entailed seem to take on much more epic proportions; applicants are prompted to "advance the course of human history and pave the ways to mars". SpaceX tempts prospects with grandiose opportunities to have a place in their pioneering cause; "Playing a direct role in advancing the course of human history is no small endeavor. Join us, and find your place in the SpaceX legacy".
Even though travel to Mars and concrete plans on colonization are being put into action, outer space exploration is still inaccessible to the vast majority of everyday travelers. With price ranges in the tens of millions of dollars for a trip to the stars, such a journey, while fun to think about, is simply not feasible for any average family. While a visit to the moon may someday be a commonplace venture for vacationers looking to get away from it all, the modern day traveler still has plenty to explore right here on Earth!