In all geologic time, the responsibilities are on our generation ... including you ...

5.14 Space Tourism

Most people just want to go to space for a little while.

If you go to space, where will you go? How long will you stay?

Leaders of some emerging launch vehicles and tourist companies envision a next generation passenger vehicle whereby you will fly into space in a passenger cabin much like the first class section of a present day aircraft, and never leave this small habitat. Everyone has the same duration of stay.

It is my opinion that these systems won't be able to compete with permanent space hotels, in terms of both cost and quality of tourism.

If all passengers stay within one launched habitat, then everyone will be space constrained. The amount of space per person is inversely proportional to the number of tickets you sell. But by making good hotels in space to drop people off at, you can:

  • sell more tickets (i.e., pack them in like a commercial airplane's economy class)
  • immediately return the vehicle to earth to pick up more people rather than stay in space as the hotel itself (rapid turnaround and productivity of space vehicles is important to dramatically improving their economics)
  • offer more features for peoples' stays
  • offer any duration of stay

To make large, economical and safe space hotels, we're going to need a lot of asteroidal and/or lunar material to make:

  • structural materials
  • outfitting (tables, chairs, etc.)
  • shielding from space radiation, micrometeors and space junk
  • large, thick windows for great views (and optionally giant, flat, polished mirrors from asteroid nickel or lunar aluminum in order to protect large windows from direct exposure to micrometeors)
  • large agricultural areas to reduce expensive food imports
  • water, oxygen
  • a large solar power plant

These facilities will offer much greater comfort and privacy, as well as such things as human powered flight and zero gravity sports.

Indeed, the producers of space hotel components will also be the creators of the first factory dormitories, homes and community services in space.

Some people will buy a one-way ticket.

PERMANENT would like to invite submissions of ideas, designs and artwork regarding space hotels made from asteroidal and/or lunar materials.

Links to space tourism website

Artemis is promoting tourism to the Moon, whereby they would be building a lunar base and a transport vehicle from low Earth orbit to the Moon.

Space Future's Tourism page is an excellent general place to start finding out about space tourism.

The Space Tourism Society (STS) "is a new not-for-profit society specifically focused on space tourism... Our goals: To conduct the research, build public desire, and acquire the financial and political power to make space tourism available to as many people as possible as soon as possible... We are clearly focused, with a long term overall view, and are evolving a strategic plan to introduce many new industries to realistic space tourism... These include the travel and tourism industry, the financial community, the cruise ship and resort industry, and the entertainment industries." Most remarkable are their Board of Directors and some of their graphics.

The Space Transportation Association (STA) "represents the interests of organizations and people who are engaged in developing, building, operating, and using space transportation vehicles, systems, and services to provide reliable, economical, safe, and routine access to space for private users and government, civil, and military users." Founded by General Daniel O. Graham, who was a key person in the early 1980s for initiating SDI. This site includes a 1998 report by NASA and STA on Space Travel and Tourism.

The (CAC) Civilian Astronauts Corps "has contracted with Advent Launch Services to build the CAC -1, a rocket powered vehicle that can provide safe and economical rides into space." These will be suborbital flights, giving customers a ride up to 100 km (60 miles) and about 15 minutes of weightlessness for $3,500.

Kelly Space & Technology, Inc. has a team designing a potential tourism vehicle.

There's a quoted Hearst Corp. page which shows an artist's picture of a Japanese space tourism vehicle and which says "Led by engineers from Kawasaki Heavy Industries, researchers have put together plans for a single-stage-to-orbit vehicle for space tourism... Japanese tourist rocket would carry 50 sightseers into low-Earth orbit for a 24-hour period... The craft appears to draw inspiration from the Delta Clipper proposed by McDonnell Douglas [as part of a competitive bid to NASA for a next generation launch vehicle], with composite materials and a tail-first re-entry maneuver executed with aerodynamic control surfaces."

Third Millenium Aerospace, Inc., has design concepts for the X-Van and the SpaceVan.

Zegrahm Space Voyages has an interesting Space Tourism webpage and is now taking reservations for departures starting on December 1, 2001, according to a November 1997 press release. However, these are suborbital flights, and the package gives you 7 days of astronaut training plus one suborbital 100 km high flight which will have a short period of weightlessness. Vela Technology Development, Inc., has contracted with Zegrahm to sell the space experience which includes a trip into space in the Space Cruiser, which Zegrahm is building. AeroAstro has been selected as prime contractor for the effort, under the direction of Vela Technology. AeroAstro is a company founded in 1988 which has developed suborbital rockets and also orbital rockets for small payloads, as well as building a few satellites and supplying hundreds of components for others' satellites. One of their strengths is their PA-X engine, a liquid oxygen-kerosene low cost engine. The space tourism vehicle will be the two-stage Vela Cruiser.

Tour2Space has an interesting website.

The Space Tourism Initiative has some interesting resources.

Some serious commercial earth launchers which may be applicable to launching people:

Rotary Rocket is a serious effort by some well established professionals for launch to low Earth orbit for all kinds of payloads at greatly reduced costs. While not pushing tourism, they should substantially reduce the cost for people to get into space.

Pioneer Rocketplane is another serious effort by some well established professionals for launch to low Earth orbit, whereby a "Passenger Carrier" is just one of their potential cargoes.

Kistler Aerospace Corp. is another serious investor attempt that's currently bending metal for producing next generation cheap-access-to-space vehicles, though they don't market tourism.

Platforms International Corporation is an aircraft hardware development company which has recently joined the competition for launch to orbit, with a solid skills and manufacturing base. They have a horizontal takeoff and landing (HTOL) aircraft design -- just like today's airplanes -- which should have very rapid turnaround time. The aircraft is just the first stage. The cargo destined to orbit is perched on top of the aircraft along with a second-stage rocket which is air-launched when the first stage aircraft reaches maximum height. Launch capacity is a whopping 20,000 kg. Once this system is proven reliable, it could be a candidate for one-way tickets to space.

Much of the development of current launch vehicles is fuelled by the demand for launch capacity for low orbit satellite constellations. Competing investors are taking advantage of the latest in technology for next generation, cheaper launch vehicles.

To keep up on news on lower cost access to space, see:

The Space Access Society, whose "sole purpose is promoting radically cheaper access to space, ASAP." For example, see their 1997 on-line newsletter issue #74 which has their latest review of upcoming launchers (as of this writing).

See also Jim Kingdon's FAQ on space launchers > Products and Services > Tourism

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