Spacetrans" also noted that Mr Goldin repeated this remark before the House Subcommittee on Science on October 1, and during NASA
's 40th Anniversary Gala in Washington, D.C. on October 16 he said that in a few decades there will be "...a thriving tourist industry on the Moon."
This too is welcome (and a considerable advance on his estimate of 50 years for a space hotel broadcast a year earlier).
But in all honesty we should add "...little thanks to NASA". This is because, if Mr Goldin genuinely believes that lunar tourism is going to be a thriving business - and it most certainly is
- then, if he was genuinely concerned to do his best for the American taxpayer (which he should be, shouldn't he, rather than for NASA stakeholders?) he would immediately establish a group within NASA to work on how to bring this highly desirable new field of economic activity to reality as soon as possible.
Instead of that Mr Goldin oversees the spending of $14 billion every year on everything except
making space accessible to the taxpayers who support him. And he's spending $50+ billion of US taxpayers' money on a space station that will be useful for little else except research aimed at sending some government researchers to Mars.
Important note: while lunar tourism is sure to become a major business, since a round-trip conveniently takes less than 1 week, and the technology needed is already 30 years old, Mars is 1 year away
from Earth - and so will never become an economically significant tourist destination.
Note also that the cost of tourism in low Earth orbit will be much less than that of a trip to the Moon
, and so is likely to grow into a large business before lunar tourism reaches a significant scale. However, there will be considerable synergy between low Earth orbit tourism and lunar development.
Mr Goldin is frequently praised for being a reforming Administrator of NASA. But even allowing for all the many constraints that prevent someone in his position from doing what they want, 3 passing mentions of tourism - coupled with no funding at all (out of $14 billion/year!) - hardly entitles him to claim to be a friend of the US taxpayer. Actions speak louder than words.
It's still an open question whether Mr Goldin will be recorded in history as the first NASA Administrator who embraced space tourism - or as the last one who held out against it. The choice is his.