28 November 2000
- Tourism (Bad)
Mr Goldin's Broken Promise: 1 Year and Counting
Nasa's Space Tourism Cover-Up Continues
by Patrick Collins
After more than a year, it seems fair to promote Nasa administrator Goldin's unkept promise to make the path-breaking report "General Public Space Travel and Tourism" (NP-1998-03-11-MSFC) available on Nasa's web-site to a broken promise.

This report was published in March 1998, and it confirms that passenger space travel by the general public is entirely realistic; it can start soon, in the form of sub-orbital trips (like Nasa's first space flights); and it is likely to grow into the largest business activity in space. In the report Nasa endorses space tourism in such positive terms as "Generally available trips to orbit and week-long stays in LEO hotels now can be seen as certainly feasible".

In economics, the value of an activity is a very straightforward concept - it is the present value of the profits to which that activity will lead in future. Thus the Nasa report is clearly the most economically valuable report Nasa has ever published - since it identifies what is going to be the largest business in space, and includes a long list of recommendations on how to help bring it about. Consequently Nasa adminstrator Goldin's cover-up is greatly against the economic interests of the American people.

Goldin promised to make NP-1998-03-11-MSFC available on Nasa's web-site in answer to a question from Space Future's correspondent at the Space Frontier Foundation conference in L.A. on September 25, 1999. At the US Space Transportation Association's 2nd Conference on Space Tourism in Washington, D.C. on June 26, 2000, your correspondent pointed out to the audience that, if Nasa was even neutral towards space tourism, it would make it possible to find this extremely valuable report via the search function on its web-site.

In response, associate Nasa administrator for policy and plans Lori Garver, who has stated in articles and interviews that she and Nasa support space tourism, stated that it had now been 'put up' - at http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/codez/misc.htm - and this URL does indeed contain a further hyper-link to the report at the Space Transportation Association's web-site. But this is meaningless, since you can't find it via the Nasa web-site search function. Like Goldin in September '99, Garver succeeded in giving the audience the impression that Nasa was thereby making the report available, which was all that mattered to her.

Since then Space Future has written to associate administrator Garver, pointing out that US taxpayers should have easy access to this report, and should be able to find it by entering any of a wide range of terms such as space tourism, space travel, passenger space travel, tourism, space trips etc into the Nasa web-site search function. But Garver has not replied, and thereby joins Goldin in taking responsibility for this cover-up which is designed to delay the realisation of space tourism, which they see as against Nasa's interests.

Goldin, Garver and their Nasa colleagues' suppression of NP-1998-03-11-MSFC reveals how very strongly they wish to keep it unread - by journalists, by schoolteachers, by political aides, by the general public - by anyone. What they are so desperate to hide from US taxpayers is the fact that, for an investment of much less than a single year of Nasa funding, we could have a thriving space tourism industry - with passenger flights to and from orbit, orbiting hotels, and eventually leading to scheduled round-trips to the Moon. Most of the investment needed to provide such services will be paid for by the private sector, not out of taxes - but it can't start so long as Nasa keeps blocking the way with disinformation and with its continuing threat to develop a successor to the space shuttle - which has already destroyed several private companies.

Goldin, Garver and their cronies also don't want US citizens to know that Nasa refuses to implement any of its own recommendations for helping to realise passenger space travel - although Nasa is required by law to aid the commercialisation of space, and NP-1998-03-11-MSFC confirms that space tourism is going to become the largest business activity in space.

This truly 'Kafkaesque' situation - in which a government space agency is the main obstacle to the public having access to space - may seem hard to believe, but it is simply explicable by recognising that Nasa's primary economic interest, like that of every monopoly, is to preserve its monopoly status.

The existence of NP-1998-03-11-MSFC gives the lie to all of Nasa's work on reusable launch vehicles - including the X-33 and X-34 fiascos, the 'Space Transportation Architecture Study' and the forthcoming 'Space Launch Initiative' - since they all entirely ignore the demand for passenger space travel. And without aiming at passenger space travel it is impossible to reduce launch costs substantially. For this reason Nasa is keen to keep its own 'Space Tourism Report' hidden from the taxpayers who paid for it, and from the legislators who oversee Nasa - and so the cover-up continues.

The deliberate concealment by administrator Goldin and colleagues of this very important information proves that these Nasa programs, which have already cost US taxpayers more than $1 billion and 5 years, and are planned to cost another $5 billion and 10 years, are deliberate frauds on the US public. If they weren't, why will Goldin not keep his promise? Readers are invited to ask him this question for yourselves.

It will no doubt be additonally irritating to the current Nasa 'leadership' that when NP-1998-03-11-MSFC does finally become available on the Nasa web-site, it will include a reference to our own www.spacefuture.com It is notable that the report contains few references to Nasa work, because little of it is relevant to the general public traveling to space, but Spacefuture is of course a unique resource on space tourism (and space power), with an archive of more than 100 published papers on the subject, and is deservedly referenced.

Notes for surfers:

1) If you persist in trying various search engines on Nasa sites, you may come across Volume 2 of the report, which has been made accessible periodically. A more useful annotated version is here in the Spacefuture archive. But Volume 2 is a report on a workshop - and so Nasa can claim that it doesn't represent Nasa's views. Volume 1 is the real McCoy - it represents what Nasa staff studying the feasibility of space tourism (for the first and only time in Nasa's 40 year history) concluded: namely that it's entirely realistic, it can start soon, and it will grow into the largest business in space.

2) Curiously, since sometime early in 2000, the first link coming up on the Nasa web-site if you search for 'space tourism' gives links to two pictures - one of the ' Kankoh-maru' ( VTOL SSTO) passenger launch vehicle design by the Japanese Rocket Society ( JRS), and one of the 'Spacebus' ( HTOL TSTO) passenger launch vehicle design of Bristol Spaceplanes. Both organisations are good friends and colleagues of Space Future - but the irony that what is supposedly the world's leading space organisation should give links to Japanese and British work in this field is rather striking! Apart from that, the links that come up by searching for 'space tourism' are to irrelevant Nasa reports, tourism in Florida(sic) and other unrelated matters.

Space Future will be very pleased to hear from anyone who finds anything else interesting concerning space tourism on NASA's web-sites.
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Patrick Collins 28 November 2000
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