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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. So...watch this space.
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"What the Growth of a Space Tourism Industry Could Contribute to Employment, Economic Growth, Environmental Protection, Education, Culture and World Peace" is now the top entry on Space Future's Key Documents list.
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T Rogers, 30 November 1997, "Why It Is Important To See A Potentially Large Space Travel And Tourism Business Created In The United States", 30 November 1997.
Also downloadable from http://www.spacefuture.com/archive/why it is important to see a potentially large space travel and tourism business created in the united states.shtml

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Why It Is Important To See A Potentially Large Space Travel And Tourism Business Created In The United States
T F Rogers

Of all the people who have traveled to space, almost all have been professional astronauts -- fewer than a half-dozen have been "ordinary people". The Shuttle has carried a Senator, a Representative and an Arabian Prince; a schoolteacher was killed during such a trip. Two private individuals have been carried to the Russian space station MIR, one from the United Kingdom, the other from Japan.

These numbers stand in sharp contrast to the number of people who have expressed an interest in taking a space trip:

Of all the people who have traveled to space, almost all have been professional astronauts -- fewer than a half-dozen have been "ordinary people". The Shuttle has carried a Senator, a Representative and an Arabian Prince; a schoolteacher was killed during such a trip. Two private individuals have been carried to the Russian space station MIR, one from the United Kingdom, the other from Japan.

These numbers stand in sharp contrast to the number of people who have expressed an interest in taking a space trip:

  • Several polls conducted in the United States in the 1980's suggest that some 40% of our adult population wished to do so, i.e., some 80 million people; and

  • Space tourism market surveys made in Japan and the United States in the past several years suggest that many 10s of millions of people in each country wish to go and would be willing to pay to do so.

Why is it important that a potentially large space tourism business be created in the United States?

  • The United States already has a thriving terrestrial space tourism business -- 10-12 million people spend an estimated $1 billion per year visiting our Air and Space Museum, rocket launches at Cape Kennedy, space camps, NASA centers, . And this business could be expanded.

    Based upon the market surveys, a ticket price of $10-20,000 seemingly would generate a trip-to-space business gross revenue stream of $10 billion per year or more -- an annual sum commensurate with today's United States satellite communications business gross revenues.

    This would represent a distinct economic gain to the United States. Jobs would be created, our tax base would be enlarged, and people from other countries would travel here to take a space trip, thus assisting our international trade balance circumstances.

  • Today two aerospace industry-NASA cost sharing surface-low Earth orbit vehicle R&D programs -- with Lockheed-Martin for the X-33 and Orbital Sciences for the X-34 -- and private ventures by a half-dozen new space transportation companies are exploring the possibility of providing new and markedly improved kinds of vehicles than today's expendable launch vehicles and those of the Shuttle fleet.

    These companies will have to obtain private financing for the production and operation of their vehicle-fleets. If financial interests could see a potentially large private space tourism market coming into being, the prospects for this private financing being made available would be strengthened.

  • Despite its large and continuing general interest in space, during this decade the general public constituency in support of our Federal civil space program has continued to decline; the NASA purchasing power has eroded and recent OMB projections suggest that the erosion rate may well quicken in FY 99.

    If great numbers of people could become directly and personally involved in space activities, by taking a trip to/from space and seeing space infrastructure and its use there, the prospects for general public support of our civil space program would be enhanced.

  • And if great numbers did so, undoubtedly new ideas for space-related activities would be imagined by the travelers that cannot be expected of our space scientist-technology community -- ideas that would translate into additional space-related businesses.

  • A large-scale space tourism business cannot come into being unless the vehicle-fleets created to serve it are more safe and reliable than today's Shuttle fleet, and are less costly to operate per person/pound, by orders of magnitude. And, compared with today's Shuttle fleet trip rate of some eight per year, individual space tourism trips could be taking place every week, indeed perhaps every day.

This kind of technological-operational-economic capability, perhaps modified somewhat to meet other specific space-related needs, would hold great import for other space interests in addition to tourism:

  1. The cost of installing and operating a space-based system that defends against missile attack could be sharply reduced, and its operational utility and reliability be more easily maintained.
  2. The cost of low Earth orbit life science, biotechnology and other kinds of scientific-technology investigations, and commercial and industrial activities, would be reduced, their magnitude expanded and their conduct eased, and it would cost much less to install and maintain satellites at altitudes higher than LEO.
  3. People could travel, and cargo could be delivered, to any surface destination within a trip movement interval of an hour.
  4. Solar power generation and/or transmission space segments of great magnitude could be installed in orbit at an acceptable economic cost;
  5. Storage of hazardous nuclear waste on the Earth's surface remains a vexing and expensive problem. But the concept of dispensing it safely in space at an acceptable cost then could be revisited.
  6. The cost of human exploration and initial settlement of other bodies of the solar system would be greatly reduced.

That is, the creation of a potentially large general public space travel and tourism business is an important end in itself, and it would be a means to the attainment of other important space-related ends as well.

Further, in order to see a large space tourism business created, two fundamental institutional changes will have to take place:

  • As was done in the information area (which includes satellite communications, navigation, position-fixing, remote sensing, and surface and atmospheric activity prediction) human space flight activities then would have to be conducted for the most part by our private sector. These activities, and the infrastructure used to support them, would be privately financed.

    While continuing to provide technological support to the development of space tourism, this would allow our civil space program to concentrate upon "far-out" space activities and would both free up and create the financial resources to do so.

  • We will have to think "big" about space.

    Over a generation, the weight of U.S. space payloads has gradually increased to a total of roughly 500 thousand pounds per year. This annual payload weight, on average, could perhaps double, roughly, if the ambitious of those in the LEO/MEO orbit satellite communications business area are realized.

    But, if we were to see the number of people taking trips to/from orbit eventually reflect the conclusions reached in recent space tourism market studies, today's annual payload weight would increase by roughly 100X! That is, the space community would have to adjust its thinking about space-related production and operations in a most fundamental manner.

In brief: seeing a large space tourism business created would be a fundamental step forward for the United States space-related interests. It could enhance our national security, increase our Country's wealth, and allow a new generation of space activities to take place with potentially great tangible value.

And our Country's economic and cultural image would be enhanced, nationally and internationally, by seeing space opened up to the general public.

T Rogers, 30 November 1997, "Why It Is Important To See A Potentially Large Space Travel And Tourism Business Created In The United States", 30 November 1997.
Also downloadable from http://www.spacefuture.com/archive/why it is important to see a potentially large space travel and tourism business created in the united states.shtml

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