Being an astronaut is the archetypical dream of boys the world over until they grow up to the reality that medicine or banking makes for more viable careers.

But now, thanks to the availability of commercial space flights, professional success can be the means to achieving personal aspirations. United States-based Space Adventures, for example, is offering a 10-day trip to the International Space Station (ISS), 400km away from Earth, for US$52 million (S$74 million). From 2017, they will offer fly-pasts around the Moon for a cool US$150 million.

Trips to ISS are carried out on board the Russian-built Soyuz spacecraft and training for the flights takes place at Star City outside Moscow and can last up to a year. Prospective customers will undergo the same training as professional astronauts, and will learn how to fly the Soyuz spacecraft and complete a spacewalk.

A visit to the ISS, as space tourist Dr Anousheh Ansari tells The Peak, is an experience like no other. When you reach Earth’s orbit, you will be travelling at 28,000kmh, over 400km above Earth; you will be weightless inside your spacecraft and viewing the planet as few have done in the history of mankind. Only eight tourists since 2001 have made the trek to Earth’s only space outpost. Besides, world-changing visionaries never did stay within their comfort zone.

(header image credit: Roger Ressmeyer / Corbis)