The first flights of the new airlines that will take tourists past the threshold of space are poised to take off in 2012, and getting a seat on one is not all that different from booking a trip someplace on Earth. You can sign up on the Web site of, say, Virgin Galactic, the most prominent of the new space tourism companies, or go to a travel agent and put down a hefty deposit. Soon you will be able to buy travel insurance, just as you can for any other vacation.
Virgin Galactic intends to start offering flights just beyond the space barrier on a rocket ship it has built, featuring five minutes of weightlessness during a two-and-a-half hour jaunt. At $200,000 a seat.
When the question of whether to offer space travel insurance first came up three or four years ago, “we said it was a joke at that time,” recalled Erick Morazin, global accounts director at Allianz Global Assistance.
Currently, Virgin Galactic, XCOR and Space Adventures refund almost all of the deposit if someone wants to cancel, but Mr. Morazin said he expected their policies to become less forgiving in the future. “We will be prepared for this milestone,” he said.