Will Space Tourists Need Astronaut-Level Training?

When the US and the Soviet Union embarked on the “Space Race” roughly 60 years ago, nobody had thought about the prospects of space tourism. Today, it’s a different story. Following the success of the Virgin Galactic sub-orbital space flight in July, WION reported early this month that Richard Branson’s company has restarted ticket sales for the next flight – at $450,000 each, almost double what was paid by those who joined the maiden flight.

Who is qualified to become a space tourist?

Literally anyone with the interest to visit space and can afford the ticket is welcome to join the upcoming private space flights by Virgin Galactic and SpaceX, among others. It’s worth noting that Inspiration 4, a SpaceX flight scheduled to launch next month, has a crew member who is a cancer survivor and had a disability when she was a child. There were, however, height requirements imposed on those that joined the raffle for Inspiration 4. They had to be less than six feet and six inches in height, and, as Elon Musk said, could endure a super “intense roller coaster ride.” For safety, however, physicians screening applicants for the missions looked out for conditions like irregular heartbeat and hypertension on account of the physical stress during launch.

As early as now, single individuals and families planning to go on a space adventure must make a commitment to change their lifestyles, especially their diets. Both arrhythmia and hypertension can be avoided by eating healthy foods, especially foods that are low on fat and bad cholesterol. It’s also possible to make the heart healthier by maintaining an active lifestyle. Exercise burns a lot of calories, including fat, which both reduces the strain on the heart and lowers blood pressure. A great idea to start is by brisk walking every afternoon, or once every two days. Once one feels that their bodies are getting stronger, it would be time to begin doing high-impact aerobic exercises like Zumba, ballroom dancing, and running. These are great for shedding excess weight too, if paired with a healthy diet. Most importantly, the commitment must begin as early as now.

How space tourists are preparing for SpaceX’s Axiom-1 flight

On the upcoming Axiom-1 flight to the International Space Station, three civilians with no experience in space will train for 6 to 7 months before the expected launch early next year. According to Technology Review, the civilians will be led by an experienced astronaut, Michael López-Alegría, and will train at Johnson Space Center. Majority of the training will focus on memorizing the layout of the International Space Station and its shipboard systems, as well as adapting to the weightlessness of space.

The space tourists will be given training, while on the ground, to build their endurance for the elevated g-forces during launch and re-entry. There will also be drills in dealing with emergency situations in space, and training on “mission-specific” tasks. Of course, training also focuses on physical fitness as well. There’s no room for frailty when the astronauts are preparing to fly into space, so these new astronauts must be maintaining a rigorous exercise regime as well behind the scenes.

How healthy will space tourists need to be? 

Again, people who are planning to purchase tickets for space travel family vacations should maintain good health as early as now. Because blood pressure is one of the factors in selection, they should make sure to avoid a diet that contributes to high blood sugar, which is almost always paired with hypertension. Endurance should always remain a top priority.

Space tourism was something hinted at in science fiction novels in the past, but now it’s a reality. Anybody who’s looking to visit the physically demanding environment of space should start thinking about conditioning their body for the trip as early as now. The astronauts did, after all, and so are the new space tourists training for the upcoming flights.


By Jess Walter