5 October 2001
Online - Tourism (Good)
Space.com Highlights Space Tourism
More Market Research Needed
by Alan Breakstone
by Alan Breakstone

Space tourism has received the attention of the high-profile space news Web site, Space.com, which features the headline article, "Space Tourism: Feasible or Flights of Fancy?" To assess the economic challenges facing space tourism, writer Leonard David interviewed scholars Geoffrey Crouch and Jordan Louviere. The two academics said that governments, regulators, insurance industries, and financial markets need to join forces to pave the way for the new industry.

Crouch and Louviere also stressed that if entrepreneurs want to convince investors of space tourism's feasibility, they need to produce more reliable studies to determine the market for space tourism. These studies would follow previous research done noteably by Dr. Patrick Collins and others and is available here in the Space Future archive. Although simplistic by professional market research standards, these surveys demonstrate a compelling justification for carrying out even more research: The market is clearly there.

David also interviewed veteran space engineer Bill Gaubatz for an assessment of the technological road ahead. Gaubatz is designing a family of SpaceClipper sub-orbital and orbial tourist vehicles. He believes that the breakthrough to achieving space tourism may come from sub-orbital flights before expanding into orbit and beyond--a strategy frequently espoused here at Space Future. The designers of theAscender and the Michelle-B vehicles thought of this years ago; both are currently X-Prize contenders.

MirCorp, Space Adventures Ltd., and SpaceHab are moving ahead with exciting new space tourism projects, according to the article. Help for these and other struggling space tourist enterprises might come from an unlikely source: NASA. In an about-face from its hostility toward space tourism pioneer Dennis Tito, the US space agency is drafting a new business plan in which it pledges to help space tourism businesses and even renew its Spaceflight Participant Program aboard the Shuttle. Time will tell if NASA remains true to its word.
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Alan Breakstone 5 October 2001
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