Gopi Thotakura could be the first Indian space tourist.

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  • Blue Origin, a company founded by Jeff Bezos, who is also the founder of Amazon, revealed the six-person crew that will be flying on its NS-25 mission.
  • This mission could be special because it could launch the first Indian space tourist. 
  • Entrepreneur and aviator Gopi Thotakura is part of the NS-25 mission that will carry six astronauts beyond the edge of space before bringing them back to Earth.
  • But interestingly, he is not the first Indian space tourist candidate. That would be Kerala-based veteran travel documentary producer and businessman Santhosh George Kulangara.
  • The NS-25 mission carrying Thotakura will only spend about an hour in flight from takeoff to landing
  • The mission will be the first crewed flight for the fully-reusable New Shepard rocket since NS-22 in 2022.
  • This mission will be the seventh human flight for the New Shepard programme and the 25th in its history.
  • New Shepard’s engine is allegedly fuelled by highly efficient liquid oxygen and hydrogen. During the flight, the only byproduct is water vapour with no carbon emissions.

Key facts

  • First Indian to go to space: Rakesh Sharma flew to the Soviet Union’s Salyut-7 space station in 1984 on a Soviet Soyuz T-11 rocket
  • First Indian space tourist candidate: Santhosh George Kulangara.
  • Could be the first Indian space tourist: Gopi Thotakura

What is space tourism?

  • Space tourism is essentially a section of the aviation sector that seeks to provide tourists with the opportunity to become astronauts and experience space travel.
  • In 2023, the space tourism market was valued at $848.28 million and is expected to grow to $27,861.99 million by 2032.

Types of space tourism

  • There are two main types of space tourism: sub-orbital and orbital. 
  • The sub-orbital spacecraft takes passengers just beyond the Kármán line which lies nearly 100 kilometres above the earth’s surface . It is considered to be the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space.
  • The orbital spacecraft, on the other hand, takes passengers much further than the Kármán line. In September 2021, Space X’s Falcon 9 took four passengers to an altitude of 160 km, where they spent three days orbiting the Earth.
  • The NS-25 mission, which Thotakura is a part of, is a sub-orbital mission.

Challenges in space tourism

  • It is extremely expensive as passengers generally have to pay at least a million dollars to reach outer space.
  • It may lead to environmental damage as rockets emit gaseous and solid chemicals directly into the upper atmosphere.
  • A 2022 study found that the soot emissions from rocket launches are far more effective at warming the atmosphere than those from other sources.
  • Safety is also a major concern when it comes to space tourism. Despite high safety standards, a total of 676 people have flown into space, and 19 of them have died as of November 2023.


The prospect of Gopi Thotakura becoming the first Indian space tourist underscores the burgeoning interest in space tourism and the advancements in commercial spaceflight. As we venture further into the cosmos, it’s essential to balance exploration with responsibility towards our planet and ensure the safety of all those who journey beyond Earth’s bounds.

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