There is little doubt that SpaceX is for the moment in a class by itself in developing partially reusable orbital space transportation, but it is interesting to note that the company has had very little to say regarding what if any role it sees for space tourism in the products it is developing.
The Dragon 2.0 capsule being developed for NASA’s Commercial Crew program is capable of carrying 7 people to the International Space Station, but in most cases it will only transport four astronauts for NASA, Russia and the program’s International Partners. The remaining three seats, subject to NASA cargo requirements, offer at least the possibility of paying passengers, but it is not a prospect the company, with eyes always on Mars, seems particularly enthused about.
Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and XCOR and on the other hand, are intently focused on space tourism, but each are following very different technological paths which promise equally different ways to experience sub-orbital spaceflight.
Here are two videos recently released by VG and Blue. Leaving aside the developmental difficulties the former has suffered, and assuming a rough parity in pricing, which experience holds the greater appeal; riding to launch altitude in a rocket plane slung under a carrier aircraft and a gliding back to Earth, or a closer recreation of Alan Shepard’s history making mission, launching and landing in a capsule, albeit without ocean recovery aided by the U.S. Navy?