Astronaut floating in space

Space Tourism

Space tourism is just around the corner, and for years pollsters asked Americans if they would go to space if they had the opportunity.

And? A majority said no.

Now in 2021, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX projects are soon to make space tourism a reality–at least for those willing to pay for it. The price tag for the 2022 Virgin Galactic suborbital space tourism flight is $250,000 for a three hour flight.

They’ve already sold 600 tickets.

With these companies making space tourism more than just a science fiction novel, is it a trip Americans are interested in taking? Let’s take a look back into Americans’ opinions of this issue with the price tag stripped away.

Starting in 1986, Americans were asked in a CBS News/New York Times Poll, “If you had a chance in your lifetime to travel to outer space, would you do so, or not?” At that time as the Space Shuttle program had made space travel routine, 54% of Americans said they would NOT go.

Almost a decade later in 1994, CBS News again asked the question and again roughly the same number (58%) said they had no interest in blasting off into space.

Once again in 1999, CBS News surveyed Americans on this question and the answers didn’t really change: 57% said they wouldn’t go into space, if they had the opportunity.

Two years later, the first “space tourist” paid $20 million to spend 8 days on the International Space Station (ISS). From the first recreational launch in 2001 to the last in 2009, there were six additional civilian visitors that paid a cool $20 million to spend a week in space.

But, did that change Americans’ minds about travelling to space? A 2004 CBS News Poll found the answer was no. This time 60% said no space travel for them.

And then CBS stopped asking the question.

So, a lot has changed since 2004. With commercialized flights to space being launched as soon as late 2021, space tourism is about to be an expensive new reality. Virgin’s short flights will cost a quarter million, but SpaceX’s 10-day trip to the ISS may cost as much as $50 million…per person.

Who’s going to pay that? Rumors say Leonardo Dicaprio, Tom Hanks, Justin Beiber, and Rihanna have all lined up to head into space with, at least, one of the companies.

If all goes well, though, prices would likely drop as space tourism becomes more common. And, Musk is already working on a rocket that can take 100 people to space at a time.

So, is it time to ask that question again? Would YOU go to space if you had the opportunity? Especially if someone else was paying?

Let’s find out. WE will be asking the question in an upcoming poll, 35 years after CBS asked the question for the first time. And, we’ll let you know what we find.

This post was written by Marist Poll “College 2 Career” intern Gabi Gervasi.