Once you’ve traveled the world, the only logical place to go next is off of it. With public interest in space travel soaring and the one percent itching to conquer more turf in the galaxy, private space companies are clamoring to build lavish vehicles that will take adventurers out of our atmosphere. They’re also jockeying for an elusive contract with the U.S. government.
Ever since the U.S. Space Shuttle Program was cancelled in 2011, NASA has scrambled to find another spacecraft capable of transporting American astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station (ISS)—and beyond. The agency now rents rides to the ISS on Russian Soyuz space capsules for $70 million per seat, but Washington doesn’t want U.S. crews dependent on Russian whims. So by 2017, NASA plans on operating a new transport aircraft built by a private company. That private company—along with its competitors—will also sell off seats to other destinations in low-Earth orbit, like space hotels, built for adventurous Earthlings like you. Except not you. A richer version of you.
Here are eight promising crafts that could launch Rich You into orbit in the very near future.
Alyson Sheppard is a contributing editor at Playboy.com. Her work has appeared in Maxim, Popular Mechanics, Mental Floss, McSweeney’s, National Geographic Adventure, and more. Follow her on Twitter @amshep.