9 May 2002
News - Tourism (Good)
Space Future Founder Receives Space Tourism Society 'Pioneer Award'
Acceptance Speech
by Patrick Collins
To commemorate the first anniversary of the historic first space tourist flight by Dennis Tito, the Space Tourism Society held its first annual awards presentation ceremony on April 27 at the Santa Monica Community College Concert Theatre, Santa Monica. Featuring a speech and video presentation by Dennis Tito, and speeches by other leading figures in the growing field of space tourism, the evening included the presentation of the 2002 Space Tourism Pioneer "ORBIT" Awards to (in alphabetical order) David Ashford, Bob Citron, Patrick Collins, Peter Diamandis, William Gaubatz, David Gump, Jason Klassi, Chuck Lauer, Tom Rogers (lifetime award) and John Spencer.

Listing these ten peoples’ achievements in the field of promoting space tourism would fill several pages, but many can be found in the Space Future archives. Many other equally important contributors to the field will be similarly honoured at the 2003 Awards Ceremony, which readers are urged to attend.

Several of the recipients were unable to attend the ceremony, including Space Future’s Patrick Collins, whose acceptance speech was made for him by Tony Materna, the Chairman of the event:

“Good evening everyone.

I am of course very disappointed not to be able to attend tonight's party. However I'm pleased to have the opportunity to say a few words.

So first, I'd like to offer my warmest congratulations to the Society for surviving in the present thin times. This of course is due to the heroic efforts of the officers of the Society, without whose vision and effort we wouldn't be here. These include especially founders John, Tony and Jason and their indefatigable team, including Bill, webmaster Peter and many others - and not forgetting Charlie who died so tragically before we got to where we're going.

I'd also like to add my congratulations and thanks to Dennis Tito for getting us off the starting block - Wonderful work! I much look forward to seeing your video in due course.

And I'd like to offer the same sentiments to tonight's Guest of Honour, Buzz Aldrin, one of the still very small number of people who've been to space who "gets it" about the vital importance of enabling as many as possible of the general public to travel to space for themselves - as we know they want to. And I wish Buzz luck in your important but 'uphill' work trying to educate the other members of the Presidential Aerospace Commission about this.

I also want to say a warm "Thank You" to all the members of the STS, without whom it wouldn't be; please continue and expand your support. For all the flaws of economically advanced societies today, under democratic capitalism consumers can get what they want if they keep on demanding it. When there are special interest groups working against you, as there are in the case of space tourism, it can be hard work and take a long time. But we are winning! So please hang in with us.

And finally I of course want to say "Thank You" for the Pioneer Award. I'm honoured and very gratified at the recognition for my work in this field. It's a cliche to say that innovation is hard: we face resistance from all those who benefit from the way things are. And we do without many benefits that those working in already mainstream activities have - like budgets and secretaries and plush offices and big salaries! In this situation the good opinion of valued colleagues is particularly important to us, and it helps to keep us convinced that we are indeed doing the right thing - costly though it is in some ways.

And as many of you will have realised, if you get involved working to realise space tourism you meet wonderful colleagues - imaginative, energetic, resourceful, optimistic - just the best people; and of course they are all dedicated to the most important cause in the world - getting everyone who wants to visit space out there.

And if I may put on my economist's hat for just a moment, it's worth noting that unemployment is at a record high in most of the rich countries, and deflation is spreading world-wide due to excess capacity in older industries and a lack of new ones.

If you ask "Where is the next wave of economic growth going to come from?" you can be sure that we in the rich countries are not going to get the older manufacturing industries back from Asia - and that now includes not just clothing and bicycles, but televisions, cameras, computers and a rapidly-growing range of high-technology products.

Some people claim that with the IT revolution, in future we're all going to spend our time just looking at screens. But I don't buy that at all. Passenger air travel revolutionised the 20th century, and created enormous wealth as it did so. The growth of passenger space travel is going to revolutionise the 21st century in just the same way - while being equally beneficial for the world economy.

The case for this is now pretty well overwhelming. The space agencies which use $25 billion of our taxes every year, but spend none of this on work to aid the commercialisation of space travel, are silent in the face of this claim. They no longer dare to respond, since they know they cannot win that argument. They're just hunkered down hoping that we're going to go on letting them have all that money.

But, kicked off by Dennis, the next steps are taking shape even as I speak. Invaluable competition from Russia is adding progressively to the pressure for change.

As space agencies' budgets continue getting cut around the world, and with a bit more help from the media, the 'penny is going to drop' - a few more heroic investors are going to step up to the plate - and the public are going to get the chance to do what they have wanted to do for decades, but didn't know was possible.

And then we're going to go all the way - to orbital resort hotels, zero gravity sports centres and a lunar sports stadium.

It's going to be the greatest of times - a real Golden Age to look forward to beyond the present recession. Saving the world economy by offering people the greatest fun of their lives! What a wonderful prospect to offer young people - in sharp contrast to the totally mistaken idea that humans are going to end up in a battle between haves and have-nots over the so-called 'dwindling resources' of Earth.

My thanks again, and I wish you all many great space trips!”
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Patrick Collins 9 May 2002
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