The travel experts at Cheapflights.ca have been thinking about the world beyond our own and did a little stargazing to come up with the “Top 10 Space Tourist Hot Spots” where travellers can get in touch with their inner rocket scientist and explore the final frontier.
From space travel to UFO discoveries here on earth, tourism opportunities for space enthusiasts may be closer than you think as you will see in these six places and experiences that made the list:
- Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida – Since opening in 1967, Kennedy Space Center has attracted space enthusiasts to the Space Coast in central Florida. More than a million people annually visit the 70-acre facility named for U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Visitors can stand nose to nose with the Space Shuttle Atlantis, one of five space shuttles used by NASA that travelled 202 million km during 33 space missions. Guests can also partake in 60 multi-media exhibits and simulators. The campus also gives visitors the chance to touch a moon rock, stand under the largest rocket ever flown and experience what a shuttle launch is like through the five-minute simulator ride Shuttle Launch Experience. Space enthusiasts can also make reservations to have lunch with an astronaut.
- Area 51, Great Basin Desert, Nevada – Area 51 is an Air Force base in southern Nevada’s Great Basin Desert. Conspiracy theorists believe Area 51 is home to the hidden wreckage of UFOs and that extraterrestrials are kept in alien autopsy rooms and their space crafts are parked in lots. Folks started claiming to see UFOs in the area beginning in the mid-20th century and the US government’s classification of details here continues to fuel speculation by some that we are not alone in the universe. UFO hunters often drive State Road 375, which the state designated as the Extraterrestrial Highway in 1996 for the numerous UFO and alien sightings purportedly witnessed along the road and its close proximity to Area 51. The nearby town of Rachel (population 98) caters to UFO hunters with local businesses like Little A’Le’Inn, an alien themed motel, trailer park, restaurant and gift shop.
- H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, Vancouver – A gift from lumber magnate H.R. MacMillan to the citizens of Vancouver, the iconic planetarium opened in 1968. The centre includes a planetarium, exhibit gallery and theatre that features star shows and space-themed movies. For a full on out-of-this-world experience, opt to spend the night. Overnight guests will explore the Cosmic Courtyard, create their own bottle rockets, view the night sky through a special telescope and end the night with a Planetarium presentation.
- Zero-G Experience, multiple locations – Space enthusiasts who want to experience weightlessness without going to space have the chance to do so at a fraction of the cost with the Zero-G Experience. During a pricey 90- to 100-minute flight (a ticket is $4,950), passengers experience multiple periods of 30 seconds of reduced gravity or weightlessness achieved with 15 aerobatic maneuvers or parabolas performed during the flight. Travellers must be at least eight years of age to fly on the modified Boeing 727. The five-hour experience includes an orientation, light breakfast, group photo, flight and a “Regravitation Celebration,” which includes refreshments and distribution of photos. The price of the flight includes orientation, flight, refreshments, photos, a video of the flight, a certificate and a Zero-G suit. Flights routinely take off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Las Vegas, and San Jose, Calif.
- Roswell, New Mexico – The city in southeastern New Mexico was made famous when a flying saucer or, as the military reported, a weather balloon, crashed at a ranch near Roswell in 1947. Authorities in Roswell handled the wreckage and investigation of the crash, which became known as the 1947 Roswell UFO incident. Visitors can learn more about the incident at the International UFO Museum and Research Center, which aims to educate visitors on all aspects about UFOs.
- Space Adventures, Russia – For those who have dreamed of being an astronaut and taking flight, Space Adventures offers the chance for wannabe astronauts who have $35 million (price depends on trip length among other factors) to fly in the Russian Soyuz space craft to the International Space Station alongside professional astronauts for missions lasting 10 days or more. The company has booked eight flights to date sending seven wealthy citizens into space. Singer Sarah Brightman is currently undergoing training, and she is slated to fly with Space Adventures this year. Space Adventures will soon offer a journey around the far-side of the moon, coming within 100 kilometres of the moon’s surface. The first lunar mission is scheduled to launch by 2018.
Rounding out the list of places where earthlings can get a taste of the world beyond our own are: Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England; Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico; Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, Canary Islands, Spain; and Australian Astronomical Observatory, New South Wales, Australia.