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|Origin:||presented at 1997 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Snowmass, Colorado, Feb 1-8.|
The assumption is made that reusable launch vehicles will one day approach airliner standards of maturity. They will be able to make several flights per day to and from orbit, and will have a design life of 20 years. Given this assumption, we can postulate a space tourism business with one million or more tourists per year spending a few days in a space hotel at a cost of around $10,000.
The next step towards this goal should be a "re-invented X-15", designed for quick turnaround, and capable of carrying four people. It would be used initially for space research, and after a few years would be certificated for passenger carrying. It would thereby allow a space tourism business, albeit sub-orbital, to be started. This could happen in about seven years, given the required funding. Full orbital tourism could be approaching the $10,000 mature level of cost fifteen years from now. The resulting market is likely to be at least 1 million tourists per year. The immediate requirement is for space tourism to be included in the mainstream space policy agenda.
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