space tourism

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The curvature of Earth seen from orbit provides one of the main attractions for tourists paying to go into space


Space tourism is the recent phenomenon of individuals paying for space travel, primarily for personal satisfaction.

As of 2007, space tourism opportunities are limited and expensive, with only the Russian Space Agency providing transport. The price for a flight brokered by Space Adventures to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft is now $30 million. Flights are fully booked until 2009.

Among the primary attractions of space tourism are the uniqueness of the experience, the thrill and awe of looking at Earth from space (described by astronauts as extremely intense and mind-boggling), the experience's notion as an exclusive status symbol, and various advantages of weightlessness. The space tourism industry is being targeted by spaceports in numerous locations, including California, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, Alaska, Esrange in Sweden and Wisconsin, as well as Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. Some use the term "personal spaceflight" as in the case of the Personal Spaceflight Federation.

Early dreams

After initial successes in space, many people saw intensive space exploration as inevitable. In the minds of many people, such exploration was symbolized by wide public access to space, mostly in the form of space tourism. Those aspirations are best remembered in science fiction works (and one children's book), such as Arthur C. Clarke's A Fall of Moondust and also , Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Joanna Russ's 1968 novel Picnic on Paradise, and Larry Niven's Known Space stories. Lucian in 2 A.D. in his book True History examines the idea of a crew of men whose ship travels to the Moon during a storm. Jules Verne also took up the theme of lunar visits in his books, From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon. Robert A. Heinlein’s short story The Menace from Earth, published in 1957, was one of the first to incorporate elements of a developed space tourism industry within its framework. During the 1960s and 1970s, it was common belief that space hotels would be launched by 2000. Many futurologists around the middle of the 20th century speculated that the average family of the early 21st century would be able to enjoy a holiday on the Moon.

The end of the space race, however, signified by the Moon landing, decreased the importance of space exploration and led to decreased importance of manned space flight.[1]

Precedents

The Soviet space program was aggressive in broadening the pool of cosmonauts from the very beginning. Many Westerners believed that Valentina Tereshkova was less qualified than other cosmonauts of the era and as such was a kind of space tourist. The Soviet Intercosmos program also included cosmonauts selected from Warsaw Pact members and later from allies of the USSR and non-aligned countries. Most of these cosmonauts received full training for their missions and were treated as equals, but especially after the Mir program began, were generally given shorter flights than Soviet cosmonauts. The European Space Agency took advantage of the program as well.

The U.S. Space Shuttle program included payload specialist positions which were usually filled by representatives of companies or institutions managing a specific payload on that mission. These payload specialists did not receive the same training as professional NASA astronauts and were not employed by NASA, so they were essentially private astronauts. NASA was also eager to prove its capability to Congressional sponsors, and Senator Jake Garn and (then-Representative, now Senator) Bill Nelson were both given opportunities to fly on board a shuttle. As the Shuttle program expanded, the Teacher in Space program was developed as a way to expand publicity and educational opportunities for NASA. Christa McAuliffe would have been the first Teacher in Space, but she was killed in the Challenger disaster and the program was canceled. During the same period a Journalist in Space program was frequently discussed, with individuals such as Walter Cronkite and Miles O'Brien considered front-runners, but no formal program was ever developed. Eventually, McAuliffe's backup in the Teacher in Space Program, Barbara Morgan, would train and fly as a full-fledged NASA astronaut. She launched aboard STS-118 as a payload specialist and spoke to many students as an educator during the trip.

With the realities of the post-Perestroika economy in Russia, its space industry was especially starved for cash. The Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) offered to pay for one of its reporters to fly on a mission. For $28 million, Toyohiro Akiyama, was flown in 1990 to Mir with the eighth crew and returned a week later with the seventh crew. Akiyama gave a daily TV-broadcast from orbit and also performed scientific experiments for Russian and Japanese companies. However, since the cost of the flight was paid by his employer, Akiyama could be considered a business traveler rather than a tourist.

In 1991, British chemist Helen Sharman was selected from a pool of public applicants to be the first Briton in space.[2] As the United Kingdom had no space program, the arrangement was by a consortium of private companies who contracted with the Russian space program. Sharman was also in a sense a private space traveler, but she was a working cosmonaut with a full training regimen.

Private space tourism

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The FAA's commercial astronaut wings for those involved in the space tourism industry who went beyond 62 miles; only 2 people have been awarded it
While it is sometimes jokingly argued that John Glenn was essentially a tourist on his 1998 shuttle flight (STS-95), space tourism did not resume for another three years. MirCorp, a private venture by then in charge of the space station, began seeking potential space tourists to visit Mir in order to offset some of its maintenance costs. Dennis Tito, an American businessman and former JPL scientist, became their first candidate. When the decision to dismantle Mir was made, Tito opted to book a trip to the International Space Station through U.S.-based Space Adventures, Ltd., which remains the only company to have sent paying passengers to space.[3][4][5]

In conjunction with the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation and Rocket and Space Corporation Energia, Space Adventures facilitated the flights for the world's first private space explorers: Dennis Tito, Mark Shuttleworth, Gregory Olsen, Anousheh Ansari and Charles Simonyi. The first three participants paid in excess of $20 million (USD) each for their 10-day visit to the ISS.

On April 28, 2001, Dennis Tito became the first "fee-paying" space tourist when he visited the International Space Station (ISS) for seven days. He was followed in 2002 by South African computer millionaire Mark Shuttleworth. The third was Gregory Olsen in 2005, who is trained as a scientist and whose company produces specialist high-sensitivity cameras. Olsen planned to use his time on the ISS to conduct a number of experiments, in part to test his company's products. Olsen had planned an earlier flight, but had to cancel for health reasons.

After the Columbia disaster, space tourism on the Russian Soyuz program was temporarily put on hold, because Soyuz vehicles became the only available transport to the ISS. However, in 2006, space tourism was resumed. On September 18, 2006, Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian American (Soyuz TMA-9) became the fourth space tourist (she prefers spaceflight participant). On April 7, 2007, Charles Simonyi, an American billionaire of Hungarian descent, joined their ranks (Soyuz TMA-10).

In 2010 space tourism to the ISS could become much more common as NASA hopes to rely on COTS (commercial orbital transportation systems) to send both astronauts and cargo to the ISS. Furthermore it is quite likely other vehicles will be ready by then.

In 2003, NASA and the Russian Space Agency has agreed to use the term 'Spaceflight Participant' to distinguish those space travelers from astronauts on missions coordinated by those two agencies. Tito, Shuttleworth, Olsen, Ansari, Simonyi, and Muszaphar were designated as such during their respective space flights.[6] lists Christa McAuliffe as a "Space Flight Participant" (although she did not pay a fee), apparently due to her non-technical duties aboard the STS-51-L flight.

The X Prize

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The X-Prize being awarded to the Scaled Composites team
On October 4, 2004, the SpaceShipOne, designed by Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites and funded by Virgin Galactic, won the $10,000,000 X Prize, which was designed to be won by the first private company who could reach and surpass an altitude of 62 miles (beyond the Karman line, the arbitrarily defined boundary of space).[7] The first flight was flown by Michael Melvill on June 21, 2004 to a height of 62 miles, making him the first commercial astronaut.[8] The prize-winning flight was flown by Brian Binnie, which reached a height of 69.6 miles, breaking the X-15 record.[7]

List of flown space tourists

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Space tourist Mark Shuttleworth
All six tourists flew to and from the International Space Station on Soyuz spacecraft:[10]
  1. Dennis Tito (American): April 28 - May 6, 2001
  2. Mark Shuttleworth (South African / British): April 25 - May 5, 2002
  3. Gregory Olsen (American): October 1 - October 11, 2005
  4. Anousheh Ansari (Iranian / American): September 18 - September 29, 2006
  5. Charles Simonyi (Hungarian / American): April 7 - April 21, 2007[11]

Future space tourist candidates

The following people have been named as possible future commercial passengers on Soyuz spacecraft to the ISS: First Russian space tourist will not lift off until 2009. RIA Novosti (2007-10-05).
14. ^ TALIS Institute. Retrieved on 2007-05-20.
15. ^ (2006-10-12) "Scotland 2040: Spaceships head for Moon with lunar golfers and crater ramblers aboard". 
16. ^ (2004-09-28) "British tycoon wants to fly you to space: Virgin Galactic plans to sell $200,000 rides". 
17. ^ X PRIZE Foundation.
18. ^ Space Adventures.
19. ^ Zero Gravity Corporation.
20. ^ The Last Frontier Of Tourism (article by Stefan Tiron, published by monochrom)
21. ^ Article on Civilians in Space.
22. ^ The New Space Race Chad Vander Veen, January 2007, Government Technology
23. ^ Space tourism: Space.com.
24. ^ "Electronic Code of Federal Regulations". 
25. ^ (2004-12-09) "Congress Passes Space Tourism Bill". 
26. ^ Virgin Galactic - Virgin Galactic
27. ^ (2004-12-09) "Flight to Orbit". 
28. ^ Doligosa, Felix, Jr.. "[http://www.bakersfield.com/102/story/199769.html Query into tragic test begins: But finding the cause of the deadly blast may take up to six months, officials say>]", Kern County news, 2007-07-27. Retrieved on 2007-07-29. 
29. ^ Europe joins space tourism race, Times online, June 10, 2007
30. ^ An interview with Michael Gold about Bigelow Aerospace.
31. ^ (2005-08-10) "$100 Million Moon Trip: Space Tourism's Hot Ticket?". 
32. ^ Space Tourism Society The Space Tourism Society (STS) is a California 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to encourage as many people to travel into Earth orbit as soon as possible for the space experience. STS aims to provide the vision and voice for the evolution of humanity off-world in a humane, fun, and beautiful direction. STS was created to inspire people to build real products for future use in space.
33. ^ Space Future Journal.
34. ^ (2007) "Space Tourism: Personal Spaceflight for you ...". 
35. ^ Space hotels.
36. ^ (2006-10-06) "A Room with a View of Mars, Please". 
37. ^ Hilton to back space hotel (1999-03-09). Retrieved on 2007-05-20.
38. ^ The Space Island Group's Mission (2006). Retrieved on 2007-05-20.
39. ^ "[2] 
40. ^ "Space Future - Prospects of Space Tourism] |date=1996=05-15 |url=[3] | year =". 
41. ^ "[4] 
42. ^ www.anoushehansari.com. Retrieved on 2006-09-22.

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For travel through space, see space travel.


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