How can I get into space?
In the past the only way of getting into space would have been to become a government astronaut. However the chance of becoming one is really very very small. With training lasting for years and costing millions of pounds.
But now, with commercial space tourism, the only thing you have to do is save. Ok you might have to save quite a lot initially, Virgin are talking about offering sub-orbital flights for $200,000, with a $20,000 returnable deposit up front. You can even fill in a form and book your seat right now on their website. Over time though they do plan to bring down costs and streamline the whole operation to make it more and more affordable for the ordinary person.
Infact by 2050 it wouldn't be unconcievable to think that up to 1 million could be visiting space every year, but how is this possible and why now? Well we have much to thank a few daring individuals for, such as Paul G. Allen, who funded one of the greatest aviation designers of our time, Burt Rutan, and his quest to win the Ansari X Prize and create a craft called SpaceShipOne. The key to Rutans success with SpaceShipOne is in its design. His vision for mass space travel began in the early days of interplanetary transport. The space race of the 1960's and the Cold War meant that governments focus was towards their military and budgets and development effort were going towards creating missiles and weapons. This then impacted and had a huge influence on space development.
We are no longer needing to rely on governments to take us into space, and technology has come on far enough for privately funded companies to take up the challenge, and go back to the drawing board to create a new breed of space ships. Rather than sending people into space strapped to the back of huge missiles, kind of Whiley Coyote style, they are employing new, environmentally friends and renewable means.
This is particularly true for Rutans SpaceShipOne, which uses a completely new means of propulsion. Rather than using unstable and expensive rocket fuel or liquid propulsion systems, he combines nitrous oxide (laughing gas) with rubber, two insert things which when combined create a huge energy source.
Advances in technology and the added ability to carry passengers who haven't undergone extensive and expensive training means that space travel will soon become a reality for many millions of people from all around the world, not the select few.