5 September 2001
News - Habitat (Good)
The Return of Mir
Space Tourism To Get Destination
by Carol Pinchefsky
Amsterdam-based MirCorp and Russia's Energiya have signed a deal to build and launch a commercial space station. This tourist destination will replace Mir, the Russian space station that almost-but-not-quite accepted paying guests before it was nudged into the atmosphere.

Russian Space Agency (RSA) spokesman Sergei Gorbunov said MirCorp was "jumping the gun". What the RSA is failing to realize is that MirCorp, rather than jumping the gun, is running the race. Private enterprise, not government-sponsored programs, will win both the financial support and enthusiasm of potentially millions of people.

At the moment, the International Space Station ( ISS) cannot easily accept tourists because of the enormous expense and bureaucratic interference involved. This new station, however, will be designed for tourism, which means it will be commercially oriented (and therefore designed to make a profit). The presence of a bona fide space hotel in orbit also gives reusable launch vehicle developers a tangible target and investors a demonstrable bottom line.

Some Americans worry about NASA's lack of reponse to this new challenge. Our tip to them--forget about NASA. People can and will go to space. It should not matter who takes us there.

Besides giving us the chance to see space for ourselves, a commercial space station built and run by Europeans will give us one added bonus: It will spare us Dan Goldin's petty and childish comments against Dennis Tito for daring to want to go to space, as this CNN article reported:
"NASA chief Dan Goldin constantly took swipes at Tito before reporters and congress, referring to the gigantic ego and space unworthiness of the Wall Street investor."

Click here for the press release.
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Carol Pinchefsky 5 September 2001
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