23 October 1997
News - Other (None)
IAF Chair supports SPS and Tourism
SPS and Space Tourism instigators of cheaper space transport
by Patrick Collins
At the opening ceremony of the Annual Congress of the International Astronautical Federation ( IAF, the leading international body representing the "space industry" world-wide), the President of the IAF is one of the people to make a speech. This year, the 48th Congress was held in Turin, and on October 6th Karl Doetsch, the current President, made a speech on this year's Congress theme "Developing Business from Space", which included the following comments:
"Launchers are the lynch pin of successful space programs. They are entering an interesting commercial period and we should expect costs related to access to space to drop as the launch volume increases. But what could cause the type of dramatic increase in traffic volume that air transportation has seen since the 1950s?

Probably not the launch of satellites alone. However, on the horizon I anticipate significant demands arising from the eventual development of space-based power systems that could provide much-needed clean energy to developing nations, thereby dealing with one of the greatest disparities between developed and developing nations.

I also foresee a desire for space tourism that could spur the development of space transportation systems in much the same way that modern fleets of transport aircraft were spurred on by the tourist and business traveler. Will such potential commercial needs allow the next generation of space transporters to be developed?

If so, we could see commercial potential driving space exploration, rather than exploration spawning industry, as in the past."

Quite so. It's excellent to see a senior figure such as Karl Doetsch publicly lending support to the credibility of SPS and Space Tourism - subjects which many, many people in space agencies still snigger at. But people who snigger should be put on the spot: "Okay, how do YOU suggest that space activities are going to get off taxpayers' backs?" If they say "They shouldn't - taxpayers should just keep on paying for space agencies", then they should be pressed to explain why. WHY should space agencies receive $25 billion every year to perform activities that are NOT leading to public access to space; are not economically profitable; are not urgent; and could all be done MUCH more cheaply once low-cost launch systems are available.

So hats off to Karl Doetsch who is facing the key issue of space activities - HOW are they going to be made to PAY? - instead of just eating up taxes.

Let's hope his support (republished in Space News) helps these ideas to trickle down through the members of the companies and organizations involved in (mainly government-funded) space activities.
Source: Space News October 13-19, p 15

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Patrick Collins 23 October 1997
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