This story is one in a series about the US spaceflight.
Only 560 people were ever in space. That sounds like a lot, but in reality it's about the number of people who could fit into a very large passenger plane or attend a middle-grade elementary school.
Since Yuri Gagarin flew in 1961 in orbit around the earth, people have gone into space. Since then rocket launches are rare. Only twelve of NASA's astronauts entered the Moon during the Apollo era of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Space Shuttle flew in his 30-year career only 135 times or an average of five times a year.
But now there are some companies trying to open up to ordinary people, maybe even one day for kids. Two of them – Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin – want to take tourists to the edge of space when traveling. These people would not orbit the earth, but would fly up and then come down again. (Jeffrey P. Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, also owns the Washington Post.)
However, they would move far from the Earth's surface to release gravity and experience weightlessness. For a few minutes, passengers could unbuckle their seat belts, hover around the spacecraft's cabin, and even perform somersaults.
In front of her window you have a fantastic view. They would see the curvature of the earth. They would also see the thin line of the atmosphere, the layer of gas that surrounds the planet and absorbs harmful radiation from the sun, allowing life on Earth to exist.
And even if it was the middle of the day, the sky behind it would be dark.
Another company, SpaceX, wants to take people on a journey into space with their massive rocket. Elon Musk, Chief Executive of SpaceX, recently said he would fly a Japanese billionaire named Yusaku Maezawa on a lunar journey. Maezawa wants to invite several artists, including sculptors, painters, architects and film directors, to come with him and hopes the journey would help their work "to inspire the dreamer in all of us".
Flying into space is very expensive. Virgin Galactic charges a ticket worth $ 250,000. For so much money you could buy a house in some places. Getting to space is also dangerous. In 2014, one of Virgin Galactic's test pilots died when the spaceship he was flying suddenly broke apart in mid-flight. The company said it fixed the problem and resumed its testing program.
By the next year, all three companies hope to bring people into space. It promises to be an exciting adventure, full of risk and thrill.
Would you go?