Re: 22 May 2000 Los Angeles Times "Column One" article on SpaceTourism
Thanks for that, Sam!
I was particularly interested to see
John McCain and the Commerce Committee's staff director,
Mark Buse beginning to take an interest.
Unlike NASA they should be interested to see
> Here's yet another partially accurate space tourism news article.
> At least the reporter could get his quotes correct. I recognize the
> astronaut quotes from my time at Space Adventures. They used these quotes
> over and over in their propaganda.
> >From: WSpaceport@xxxxxxx
> >Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 06:51:12 EDT
> >To: so-cal-space@xxxxxxxxxxxx,
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> >Subject: 22 May 2000 Los Angeles Times "Column One" article on Space Tourism
> >Just in case some of you missed seeing this. . .
> > SPACE -- TOURISM'S HOT TICKET
> >Fly you to the moon? Some 1,200 are on one waiting list. 'Space hotels will
> >open in my lifetime,' vows an entrepreneur who's investing $500 million.
> >By JOHN M. GLIONNA, Times Staff Writer
> >LAS VEGAS -- Robert Bigelow has this vision: He and fellow space tourists
> >orbit the moon aboard a luxury liner rocket ship with wall-to-wall windows
> >on deep space. The five-star accommodations include gambling, gourmet food
> >and romantic weightless encounters. For additional thrills, laser light
> >shows illuminate the far side of the moon.
> >It all sounds like a pure reverie, except that Bigelow, owner of the Las
> >Vegas-based Budget Suites of America hotel chain, is putting $500 million
> >into development of technology to hurl a hotel into orbit and back again.
> >"As an investment, it's beyond risk. It's crazy," he said. "But I'm a
> >practical businessman; you can't be prone to fantasy and survive in the
> >finance field. Mark my words: Space hotels will open in my lifetime."
> >Crazy maybe. But Bigelow is among a growing galaxy of competitors who have
> >set their sights on the stars in a new, privately funded space race.
> >Amid lampooning from critics who point out that there is still no such thing
> >as a safe, reusable rocket, this new drive is being piloted by entrepreneurs
> >who have long stood on the launch pad sidelines.
> >In February the Netherlands-based MirCorp announced that it will
> >commercially operate Russia's Mir space station and begin delivering
> >tourists for brief weightless stays in space. A Japanese TV reporter and a
> >woman from England recently spent eight days aboard Mir at a cost of $10
> >million each.
> >Already, tourists are willing to pay big bucks just to come close to
> >entering Earth orbit: 144 have paid $98,000 apiece to reserve seats on a
> >trip to the very edge of space aboard a craft that has yet to be built.
> >Space Adventures of Alexandria, Va., hopes to offer a two-hour flight that
> >will soar high enough above the Earth to enter space but not travel fast
> >enough to go into orbit. Six companies are vying to develop the rocket that
> >will take customers on the brief voyage.
> >Christopher Faranetta, the company's space flight program manager, said
> >Space Adventures already takes people for jaunts inside the cockpit of a
> >Russian MiG-25 military jet. More than 4,500 people have paid $11,900 for
> >the trip, which tops out at 85,000 feet. An additional 1,200 are on a
> >waiting list for an eventual trip to the moon.
> >Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin--the second man to step on the moon--has formed
> >a nonprofit organization, ShareSpace, to promote space tourism. Aldrin said:
> >"This is completely within the realm of possibility."
> >Even more fantastic plans come from people like Gene Meyers, a West Covina
> >engineer whose Space Island Group wants to open a space resort by 2007
> >fashioned from "space junk," discarded space shuttle fuel rockets connected
> >in a wheel-shaped design "like something from '2001: A Space Odyssey.' "
> >Meyers said there are people already trying to figure out how to run the
> >place--in a course in space resort management at the Rochester Institute of
> >Facing Up to Some Practical Questions
> >Some major corporations have dabbled in futuristic plans. Virgin Atlantic
> >Airways wants to build an orbiting Virgin Hotel--reached by a new airline
> >called Virgin Galactic Airways--if the right technology can be developed.
> >Last fall, Hilton Hotels announced an interest in developing an orbiting
> >hotel, but has since expressed doubts about the potential market. "Once a
> >consumer climbs aboard that spaceship, are they going to be able to get
> >back?" asked Hilton spokeswoman Jeannie Datz.
> >Good question.
> >The space shuttle makes trips to space and back, but the current cost of
> >putting people and payloads into orbit is stratospheric: $10 million per
> >flight, or $10,000 a pound.
> >"If the good Lord had meant for us to become space tourists, we would have
> >been born with more money," said John Pike, space analyst for the Federation
> >of American Scientists. "After four decades of space flight, there still has
> >been no improvement in the cost of getting into Earth orbit. That's not
> >going to change any time soon. Not in our lifetime, anyway.
> >"They say the best way to earn a small fortune in commercial space tourism
> >is to start out with a large fortune," Pike said.
> >A 1998 NASA study concluded that the space tourism industry could one day be
> >worth billions. But the economics of space travel is "a 'chicken and egg'
> >problem," said Jay Penn, senior project engineer with Aerospace Corp. in El
> >Segundo. "To get people into space, you need to get the cost down. But to
> >get the cost down, you need to get people into space."
> >Peter H. Diamandis, chairman of the X Prize Foundation, agreed. To solve the
> >problem, his group has offered a $10-million prize to inspire engineers to
> >design a rocket to carry the first space tourist.
> >The X Prize is modeled after the $25,000 Orteig Prize, which inspired
> >Charles Lindbergh to cross the Atlantic Ocean on his 1927 New York-to-Paris
> >flight. Erik Lindbergh, a grandson of the historic aviator, is a board
> >member of the foundation offering the prize. Competitors include 17 teams
> >from a dozen countries.
> >Diamandis hopes to award the prize no later than 2003.
> >"I'm one of the millions who assumed that our landing on the moon was only
> >the beginning of space exploration--but once we got to the moon, we won the
> >race and the game was over," said Diamandis, a Harvard and MIT graduate who
> >once dreamed of becoming an astronaut.
> >"Now I no longer believe our government is going to help open space for the
> >rest of humanity. I'm sick and tired of waiting for them to do it."
> >Working everywhere from backyard garages to behemoth airport hangars, the
> >aspirants for the X Prize have their work cut out for them.
> >Current rockets fail about 5 times out of 100 and the projected fail rate of
> >the space shuttle is 1 in 454 missions. Engineers designing NASA's X-33
> >rocket plane, the prototype for the Venture Star reusable launch vehicle,
> >are aiming for a failure rate of 2 in 10,000.
> >"A launch vehicle is like a commercial jetliner; the average plane failure
> >rate is 1 in a billion," said Tony Jacob, a business development analyst for
> >Lockheed Martin Corp.'s X-33 program. "So you can see how far we have to go
> >to reach aircraft-like reliability."
> >The rocket race may soon be getting some help. Arizona Sen. John McCain,
> >chairman of the Senate's Commerce Committee, is pushing Congress to consider
> >ways to fund space development. Still, "one concern is creating a toy for
> >the ultra-wealthy and no one else," said the committee's staff director,
> >Mark Buse. "Will space tourism jeopardize scientific missions? Is the
> >government liable if some tourist boards one of its rockets?"
> >If tourists do arrive in space, one former astronaut says, they will be in
> >for an unforgettable ride.
> >"It's the highlight of a lifetime to look back at Earth from space--to see
> >this glowing, beautiful ball of blue with white swirls and land masses
> >against a background of pure blackness," said Carl Meade, a three-time
> >shuttle astronaut and the first to venture outside an orbiting NASA craft
> >untethered, zipping about with a jet-powered backpack device.
> >Space travel isn't for the faint of heart--or stomach. No amount of training
> >can prevent the sickness caused by a dizzying dual punch of G-forces and
> >"If you don't like camping, you're not going to like space travel," Meade
> >said. "Because all the experiences you have while roughing it in the woods,
> >like 'Where's my toothbrush?' will be amplified in space. You can't put
> >anything down without having it float away. Some people will find this a lot
> >of fun; others may not."
> >Some swear by the floating euphoria of zero gravity. Experiencing the
> >sensation in a diving airplane while filming "Apollo 13," director Ron
> >Howard said: "Saying something is better than sex rarely lives up to that
> >claim. Weightlessness came awfully close."
> >Texas computer magnate Richard Garriott said his MiG-25 ride to the
> >threshold of space was worth every penny. "A flight to 85,000 feet is just a
> >tiny taste of what space must feel like," he said. "You're up dramatically
> >higher than any commercial jet, so high you can see the curve of Earth. Up
> >there, the clouds below look like snow plastered on the ground."
> >Garriott is the 38-year-old son of a former Skylab astronaut who calls
> >himself a "sports adventure nut." He has attended astronaut training camps,
> >worn authentic space gear inside a neutral buoyancy tank to mimic zero
> >gravity aboard the Mir space station, and has done simulated space walks.
> >At camp, he played physics tricks in zero gravity, trying to drink a drop of
> >water suspended in space. "It's impossible to do," he said. "Once you get
> >the droplet before you and go to put your head forward, the other side of
> >your body floats away. It's maddening."
> >Garriott so enjoyed his first space flight that he wants to go again: He has
> >paid a refundable $98,000 for a trip to the moon.
> >"I think it's more than a fair price and I would personally pay more," he
> >said. "It's a huge amount of money, yet other experiences of the same
> >magnitude--guided tours to Mt. Everest or the South Pole--cost almost as
> >much and still a large number of people line up year after year."
> >West Covina engineer Meyers believes he can put together a ring-shaped
> >resort by connecting shuttles' spent external fuel tanks. He already has one
> >sure-fire customer: noted space adventure writer Arthur C. Clarke, whose
> >novels have long evoked images of far-flung worlds. The 83-year-old Clarke,
> >who collaborated with director Stanley Kubrick to make the film "2001," has
> >told Meyers he would like to spend his 90th birthday in Earth orbit.
> >"I'm ready to become a space tourist," Clarke said from his home in Sri
> >Lanka. "Actually, I never dreamed astronauts would go to the moon in my
> >lifetime. So, for the rest of us to go to space is all truly amazing."
> >From his headquarters here in the land of big dreams and outrageous gambles,
> >Bigelow insisted that private enterprise will make space tourism a reality.
> >"With profit calling the shots, this industry is going to take off,"
> >Bigelow, 55, said during an interview at his sprawling Tudor-style offices
> >near the Las Vegas Strip.
> >The Las Vegas native has long been fascinated by outer space--ever since he
> >was 8 and his grandparents told him of seeing a glowing red ball hurtle
> >menacingly toward their car in the Nevada desert. He has since spent $10
> >million backing research into UFOs.
> >Despite Bigelow's fascination with UFOs, space tourism advocates and
> >engineers--including former astronaut Aldrin--take him seriously. "Sure,
> >he's a real wild card," said James George, director of the Los Angeles-based
> >Space Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes space travel.
> >"But half a billion dollars makes anybody legitimate. And along with the
> >money, Bigelow has a commitment that's unshakable."
> >A businessman whose earthbound empire is worth about $900 million, Bigelow
> >said the key to his space tourism vision is a massive orbiting "Hudson Bay
> >Co." warehouse that will service his fleet of spacecraft.
> >The facility would be positioned at what Bigelow describes as one of five La
> >Grange points between the Earth and moon--locations in space with no
> >gravitational pull from any surrounding planets "so it will take zero fuel
> >to maintain its location."
> >These days, Bigelow is cranking his vision into high gear. He's hired a
> >30-year aerospace veteran from Houston's Johnson Space Center to become his
> >vice president of spacecraft development. He also is recruiting researchers,
> >engineers, architects and scientists.
> >His company, Bigelow Aerospace, will soon break ground on a new Las Vegas
> >headquarters--a mammoth rocket-shaped building--surrounded by a moat to give
> >the impression of a launch pad. Bigelow hopes the facility will rival those
> >of aerospace giants Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
> >Bigelow hopes his moon-bound ship will eventually be equipped with all the
> >amenities of an opulent ocean liner, including an observation deck and
> >portals for viewing the Earth, moon and planets. The craft may also supply
> >the means for a brief passenger walk in the cosmos.
> >Bigelow said one fascinating facet of his lunar adventure will be a ceremony
> >held on the captain's bridge as the ship approaches the moon. "Because
> >arriving at the moon is going to be an epiphany for most passengers," he
> >said, "a very, very profound moment."
> Samuel Coniglio -- Technical Writer, Photographer, Space Activist
> Email: spaceman@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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