Perhaps one day space travel for tourism will be a common thing. In the here and now, there are select few companies pushing the idea, including Blue Origin, a privately-funded aerospace manufacturer and spaceflight services firm founded and run by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. For the right amount of money—a lot of money, no doubt—you can book a flight to space as a tourist, just make sure you go tinkle before hopping on board New Shepard, the space vehicle that will lift you above the skies.
While early space tourism is separated by wealth—Blue Origin's ticket prices have not yet been announced, though competitor Virgin Galactic charges up to a quarter of a million dollars—Mother Nature (and anatomy) does not discriminate. When nature calls, rich or poor (or somewhere in between) it is time to find a bathroom. Only there is not one on New Shepard.
"Go the bathroom in advance, Bezos said. "The whole thing, from boarding until you're back on the ground, is probably 40 or 41 minutes. So you're going to be fine. You could dehydrate ever so slightly if you have a weak bladder."
The other concern with space travel is getting sick. It is not uncommon for people to feel nauseous when experiencing weightlessness. And not to, uh, make light of the situation, but there is even a clever nickname for the phenomenon—vomit comet. Without a bathroom on board New Shepard, you might think things could get a little gross if and when somebody gets sick. However, Bezos does not anticipate that happening.
"[People] don't throw up right away," Bezos said. "We're not going to worry about it... It's a delayed effect, and this journey takes 10 or 11 minutes. So you're going to be fine."
These 11-minute flights take passengers up above the Kármánline, which is some 62 miles (100 kilometers) above the surface of the planet. It is considered the boundary between Earth's atmosphere and space. At that altitude, passengers will experience weightlessness. They will also get to see the curve of the planet.
New Shepard can accommodate six passengers at a time. Each passenger is strapped into a black leather seat that is reclined to around 70 degrees. When the capsule reaches space, passengers are free to unbuckle and float around the capsule for about 4 minutes.
Blue Origin isn't quite ready to send humans into space for tourism (it's shooting for 2018), but since New Shepard is autonomous, the company can continue to run tests without any crew on board. The same will be true once it's ready to take passengers into space—there will be no escort on board. As for training, Bezos says it will be minimal, mostly consisting of knowing how to buckle up and a few other things.