There's no doubt what the most popular Christmas present will be this year. Influenced by the launch of the first manned mission to Mars next month, you will most likely get a present with stars, a gift card for a spacetrip.
The interest in the suborbital trips (100 km above the surface of the Earth) have grown steadily since the launch 20 years ago, but the market has basically exploded this year since the official announcement of the Mars mission. More low cost spacelines have entered the market and you can now find suborbital flights for as low as US$ 3,495.
Space tourism is one of the markets that have developed the most during the last decade, with the opening of the Starbright Hotel on the moon, as well as the low orbital hotels that started accepting guests. However, accommodation in space is still expensive for the average household, so the suborbital flights with thirty minutes weightlessness during the three-hour flight, with four hours preparation, will for some time be the most popular trip.
The spacelines might however in the future face fierce competition from space elevators, like the one that are projected for construction start within a couple of years. Once it is fully functional it will start to ship cargo to space, but it will as soon as possible accept passengers to get back the giant investment. Even though the elevator become successful, it will take several years before there will be more elevators in the world, to get in the competition for the space traffic with the spacelines.
Pontus Edenberg is the editor of News of Future, a publication about the future of space tourism and news about society, health, environment etc. People of the world are invited to comment on the news and take part in shaping their future.