Space Travel Opportunity for Public?

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Since space is still inaccessible to all but the rich, is there a way for us to experience space travel in a more affordable fashion?  Yes, it is possible. The general public can experience space travel through immersive technology as a “pre-trip”—virtual space travel in the metaverse.

The integration of technology into tourism gave birth to a relatively new type of tourism based on virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and self-service technology. Practitioners in the hospitality and tourism fields have started to apply the metaverse in their business operations, including museum exhibitions, virtual flights, and virtual hotels. For example, Millennium Hotels and Resorts opened M Social Decentraland and it is the world’s first hospitality group to operate a hotel in the metaverse virtual world. The virtual hotel blends real and virtual experiences in ways designed to intrigue and engage. Guests can tour the hotel with an avatar, which resembles real-world Millennium properties. Qatar Airways also launched the Q Verse, where tourists can virtually tour and navigate the check-in area at Hamad International Airport, and a Metahuman cabin crew member will offer a digital interactive customer experience.

Thanks to immersive VR and AR technology, the general public can experience space travel in an affordable fashion.

More recently, Felix & Paul Studios, in collaboration with PHI Studio, created the world’s largest in-person VR experience of space —The Infinite, which is a 60 minutes immersive location-based experience of the International Space Station (ISS). With 12,500 square feet of walking room, it allows 150 visitors to simultaneously go into space and visit the ISS by using Oculus VR headsets. Can we bring the virtual space station into our home? Yes, the 3-D VR scenes from the station can also be seen in “Space Explorers: The ISS Experience,” an immersive series available for Oculus headsets users.

However, would visitors explore the space virtually no longer be interested in visiting the space physically in the future? I conducted a survey in 2022 by inviting 120 participants to experience a 5-minute virtual space tour for enjoying the Earth view. After experiencing the immersive VR space tour, more than 80 % of participants were excited and indicated that they would travel to space physically if they could afford it. Therefore, using immersive technology as a “pre-trip” of space can attract tourists to travel to space physically.

To find out more about a specific topic, click on the links below to navigate to the relevant chapter:

INTRODUCTION – Space Tourism Isn’t Science Fiction Anymore

PART I – Consumer Reactions to Space Travel across Cultures

PART II – Space Hotel and Space Food

PART III – Space Travel Opportunity for the Public?

CONCLUSION – Future Direction for Space Travel