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Space Future has been on something of a hiatus of late. With the concept of Space Tourism steadily increasing in acceptance, and the advances of commercial space, much of our purpose could be said to be achieved. But this industry is still nascent, and there's much to do. this space.
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J B Good, 1999, "Space: The New Tourism Market", World Travel Market 1999, Millennium Forecast Forum.
Also downloadable from the new tourism market.shtml

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Space: The New Tourism Market
John Brodie Good

"Heavier than air flying machines are impossible" said Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society in 1895, just over 100 years ago. A billion air passengers per annum have proved his lordship wrong.

In April 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to venture into Space. In July 1961 he stood in this very building and gave a press conference to over 2000 journalists from around the world. I beg no comparison but intend to follow Yuri, in subject and in going to space myself.

In the last 38 years 100s of people have followed, including man venturing to the moon. NASA and other government agencies run the current transportation systems however, and public space travel has never been on their agenda. NASA and others are heavily involved in reducing the cost of access to space, the biggest problem for the concept of space tourism to date. The cost, technology in most respects is not the issue, has been the problem up until now. NASA themselves are exploring a new generation of reusable spacecraft, the X33 their biggest current project. A joint NASA/Space Transportation Association report published in 1998 concurs that private enterprise will open space for tourism. Figures suggest the market could be worth $10 billion annually.

World-wide, consumers spend in excess of $3 billion annually on space related products and services. Over 1billion people have seen the recent major Space' movies. Over 20 million people visit the Space Museum in Washington, DC every year. In recent surveys the majority of US citizens said they would pay for a chance to go to Space. Japan is another Space tourism ready' nation, interest is large in Germany too. Space Adventures and Zegrahm Space Voyages, both US based, the world's first Space Tour Operators' along with their agents including WildWings started taking bookings in late 1997. In two years over 200 people world-wide have paid a $6000/3750 deposit for a $100,000/56,000 sub-orbital spaceflight, the first of which should be aloft within 5 years. These deposits are sitting protected in bank trust accounts. We expect a significant increase in bookings when the first prototypes are seen flying into space on TV News screens around the world in a few years time.

Prototypes of what? Private enterprise is going to take Joe Public to space in the next century, and this new space race is already well under way. The technology already exists, its proving there is a market to get investors to put up money to build vehicles and getting the regulatory bodies like the FAA and CAA to grant licenses that will give us all the opportunity to go. A major focus, especially in the US, of the current activity, is the X-Prize. A $10M cash pot for the first team which builds and flies 3 passengers into space within a 3 week period. Space is defined as 100kms/62 miles above the Earth. A wide-bodied jet crosses the Atlantic at just under 6 miles in altitude. The highest flying military jet attains just under 20 miles altitude, the Edge of Space. (An experience currently available from WildWings!) The US Space shuttle and MIR orbit the Earth much higher however, 150-200 miles. To go to orbit requires an even more powerful craft, and a higher cost again.

A sub-orbital space flight will involve take off from a conventional type of airport, an upward journey through the atmosphere up into space proper, at least 62 miles in altitude. External cameras will give stunning views to the passengers all the way up and back, in addition to the views from the windows of the craft. At the apogee of the flight, full weightlessness will occur, the occupants enjoying the oft quoted transformational' view back down to Earth from Space, the main reason for my own desire to go. The craft will return back into the atmosphere and land from the airport you took off from. Flight duration will vary from 35-90 minutes depending on design. These new craft will be designed for tourists' not highly trained astronauts. Medical criteria will of course apply but in general anybody of good health will be eligible to fly. A week's prior preparation and training is all that will be required, included in the current cost. In addition to suiting up' and safety briefings, participants will enjoy lectures from astronauts and astronomers to ensure they get the most from their forthcoming experience.

Over 15 teams have registered for the X-Prize so far, 11 from the US and including 2 from the UK. Ascender, a spaceplane, is the UK's leading contender, a design from Bristol Spaceplanes Ltd. A scaled-down radio controlled model flew last year in Wiltshire. Another model of Ascender can be seen in the Millennium Dome at Greenwich next year. Like all brilliant UK ideas, e.g. Richard Noble's Thrust'; Ascender is still seeking serious finance and could do with a lot more national support. Across the Atlantic, Rotary Rocket has started flight testing a scaled down prototype, and Kelly have successfully demonstrated the tow-launch principle for their Eclipse design. 2000 will see many more exciting developments. Many of these craft will also cater for the other existing market, small satellite launching.

Whilst we wait for this generation of craft to be built, Space Adventures have secured an unexpected, if very expensive, real opportunity for a lucky few to go to Space, not just sub-orbital but orbital. Guest cosmonaut' places may be available to future missions to the MIR Space Station, aloft since 1986, and to the International Space Station, currently under construction. Strict medical criteria, 3-6 months training and the $15M fare guarantee your place. Space hotels in orbit around the Earth will undoubtedly be the second step for Space Tourism, the following speaker, Howard Wolff will be telling you more about this shortly.

In the meantime, Space Adventures offer their Steps to Space' programmes, whilst their sub-orbital flight customers await their big day. Terrestrial Tours offer holidays with space themes here on Earth e.g. Shuttle Launch Tours led by former astronauts. Zero-G Flights allow participants to experience weightlessness in special parabolic flights in the same aircraft that Russia trains its cosmonauts, from 3240. US flights should be introduced in summer 2000, from approx. 2650. Journey to the Edge of Space offers an unforgettable supersonic flight in a MIG29 Foxbat to at least 80000ft above the Earth, black sky and the curve of the planet below you, from 7659.

I mentioned earlier that 2 US companies started taking bookings for Space flights, within the last fortnight, Space Adventures have acquired the business of Zegrahm Space Voyages, making them the world's only current Space tour operator, and WildWings the UK outlet. We shall shortly offer the Space Adventures product range through selected travel agents.

I for one will be firing a rocket into the sky this new years eve, it will symbolise a journey I intend to make myself in the next century, at least, unlike Lord Kelvin, I will know I will have the opportunity.


Other sources:


  • Orbit - "NASA Astronauts Photograph the Earth"
    (National Geographic) ISBN 0-7922-3714-5
J B Good, 1999, "Space: The New Tourism Market", World Travel Market 1999, Millennium Forecast Forum.
Also downloadable from the new tourism market.shtml

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