5 February 1999
- Tourism (Good)
"T word" spotting
by Patrick Collins
Readers will have noticed that more and more people are using the "T word" - that is "tourism" in the context of "space tourism", and using it positively, to support tourism as an objective of space development activities.

Leaders of the ever-widening movement to make space accessible to the general public - such as Tom Rogers and colleagues at the Space Transportation Association (STA), Ivan Bekey, Bill Gaubatz at the Universal Space Clipper Company, Dietrich Koelle of TCS Transcost Systems, companies developing piloted reusable space vehicles, and of course Space Future - have been using it for years. But it's still new to the tongues of most people in the space industry, including both the space agencies and the companies to which they give contracts.

However, NASA Administrator Goldin, spoke in favour of space tourism 3 times in 1998, as reported in the newsletter STA SpaceTrans (an excellent report on current space transportation matters available by subscription). STA SpaceTrans lists up several more, including Gary Bachula, Under Secretary for Technology in the Department of Commerce, a senior editor at Newsweek, and Pete Eldridge, President of the Aerospace Corporation.

ESA*s Angelo Atzei, summing up the (ExploSpace) Workshop held in Sardinia in October, also recognised the potential of space tourism.

And most recently Arthur C. Clarke, the science fiction author, has added his weight in favour of space tourism and the X Prize in Space News, February 1, middle page.

Use of "the T word" is an excellent marker by which to judge where people stand in relation to space development. If they can bring themselves to use it at all, and even speak in support of it, then they're on the way to understanding humans' true "space

Of course, if they really "get it" - ie understand that tourism is going to become the major activity in space, generating 10s of $billions of commercial turnover - more than all other space activities put together - then they'll get crazily busy trying to bring it about as soon as possible.

Those who are still shy of the real thing, or who are trying to persuade people (usually senior) who are still holding out against it, tend to use euphemisms like "passenger space travel", "public space travel", "commercial space travel" or "popular space travel". But even this is notable progress.

Readers are warmly invited to send us references to uses of "the T word" or alternatives that they spot in speeches by people in government, NASA, the media, business and elsewhere.

It's also fun, since it's coming to them all - it's merely a question of how long each of them continues to resist the inevitable!
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Patrick Collins 5 February 1999
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