The main problem about space is how much it costs to get there: it's too expensive! And that's mainly because launch vehicles are expendable - either entirely, like satellite launchers, or partly, like the space shuttle.

So we need reusable launch vehicles. The trouble is that these will not only reduce the cost of launch - they'll also put the makers out of business, unless there's more to launch than just a few satellites a year, as there are today.

Fortunately there's a market that will generate far more launch business than satellites ever well - passenger travel. Market Research has shown that the idea of space tourism is very very popular. And so, just like aviation, the launch industry is going to find that most of its business will be carrying passengers.

But this idea of Space Tourism isn't at all familiar to most people, including the space industry, who are used to the idea that space is for research or military activities. Few people are aware of how much work has been done to show that tourism is a realistic goal, and how rapidly this work is now progressing.

Once travel to orbit becomes a commercial service, the question of how to get to space will be mainly one of saving up for a ticket - or looking for work in one of the many space hotels that will be built. Space offers unique pleasures including the view, and zero gravity activities that provide a whole range of things to do on an orbital holiday - including space sports.

Importantly, and contrary to what many people assume, the space agencies are not at all interested in space tourism, and are not trying to bring it about. This is a pity because space activities will never be profitable until tourism services begin, remaining small-scale, expensive, and dependent on taxes which come from you - which would you prefer?

29 July 2012
Added "Space Debris and Its Mitigation" to the archive.
16 July 2012
Space Future has been on something of a hiatus of late. With the concept of Space Tourism steadily increasing in acceptance, and the advances of commercial space, much of our purpose could be said to be achieved. But this industry is still nascent, and there's much to do. this space.
9 December 2010
Updated "What the Growth of a Space Tourism Industry Could Contribute to Employment, Economic Growth, Environmental Protection, Education, Culture and World Peace" to the 2009 revision.
7 December 2008
"What the Growth of a Space Tourism Industry Could Contribute to Employment, Economic Growth, Environmental Protection, Education, Culture and World Peace" is now the top entry on Space Future's Key Documents list.
30 November 2008
Added Lynx to the Vehicle Designs page.
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Space Tourism - The Story So Far
Work towards realizing space tourism has moved forward a great deal in the last few years. Up until the end of 2000, only a few research papers had been published on the subject, and largely ignored.

There are now an increasing number of commercial enterprises starting up in the field. Even before the Ansari X Prize was won, space tourism had begun to achieve a much greater impact in the public mid, and is now frequently visited of printed and broadcast media.

Entire conferences have been dedicated to space tourism, an idea that was unthinkable as little as 5 years ago, and the number of publications has dramatically increased to the point that they are no longer events of significance to add to the timeline.

Please feel free to send in items for inclusion in order to make this timeline as comprehensive as possible.
Skip to:   1980s   1990   1991   1992   1993   1994   1995   1996   1997   1998   1999   2000   2001   2002   2003   2004   2005   2006   2007   2008
1950s The first wave of optimism about rocketry designs for space stations and Moon-bases. This mood gradually evaporated as cold war realities took over. For example, companies like "Aeroneutronic Ford" and the American Rocket Society no longer exist. If they'd hung in there a bit longer, and had more faith in the power of mass consumer markets...
1960s During the Apollo program, Philip Bono of Douglas Engineering proposed using some of the rocket engines and tankage that had been developed to build a reusable SSTO VTOL rocket - SASSTO.
1963 August 22, The USAF X-15 spaceplane sets the world altitude record at 354,200ft. The record remains unbroken until SpaceShipOne (367,442ft) 39 years later.
1967 Both Barron Hilton ("Hotels in Space") and Kraft Ehricke publish papers about space tourism, but there is no follow-up to their proposals.
1971 Design of the reusable SSTO VTOL " BETA" vehicle published by Dietrich Koelle at annual congress of the International Astronautical Federation ( IAF).
1984 First of a series of papers on 2STO HTOL vehicles for space tourism published by David Ashford of Bristol Spaceplanes in England.
1985 Design of " Phoenix" SSTO VTOL passenger vehicle published by Gary Hudson of Pacific American Launch Systems.
PALS and the US travel company Society Expeditions started " Project Space Voyage" offering short trips to low Earth orbit in the " Phoenix-E for $50,000. They collected several hundred deposits of $5,000 in the USA Europe and Japan, but failed to raise the investment to develop " Phoenix".
Panel discussion on space tourism held at L-5 Society Space Development Conference, at which Society Expeditions' market estimate was presented ( B Citron)
1986 "Potential Economic Implications of the Development of Space Tourism" presented at IAF Congress, including estimate of market
Book on space tourism published in Japan by Makoto Nagatomo.
1987 Design of passenger-carrying upper stage for German " Saenger" 2STO HTOL vehicle presented at IAF Congress by Dietrich Koelle.
'The Overview Effect' by Frank White is published by Houghton Mifflin, describing the psychological imact seeing the Earth from space.
1989 A design for an orbital hotel is presented in "Feasibility of Space Tourism - Cost Study for Space Tour" at IAF Congress by Shimizu Corporation, a major construction company.
1990 Publication of "Your Spaceflight Manual: How you could be a tourist in space within 20 years" by David Ashford and Patrick Collins
1991 Announcement of funding of McDonnell Douglas DC-X reusable VTOL test-rocket by US Department of Defence - not NASA.
November, at the International Space Conference Of Pacific-basin Societies ( ISCOPS) in Kyoto papers were presented on Phoenix ("History of the Phoenix VTOL SSTO and Recent Developments in Single-Stage Launch Systems", G Hudson), and Space tourism ("Benefits of commercial passenger space travel for society", M Nagatomo).
1992 "The Prospects for Space Tourism: Investigation on the Economic and Technological Feasibility of Commercial Passenger Transportation into Low Earth Orbit" presented at IAF Congress by Sven Abitzsch and Fabian Eilingsfeld
1993 April 14, the Japanese Rocket Society started a study program on the feasibility of setting up a space tourism business, and established its Transportation Research Committee to design a passenger launch vehicle.
JRS published first Special Issue on Space Tourism of its Journal of Space Technology and Science (Vol 9, No 1)
The first market research survey on space tourism was performed. 3030 people in Japan answered a written questionnaire, showing that the concept is extremely popular - the results are discussed in "Potential Demand for Passenger Travel to orbit" and also "Commercial Implications of Market Research on Space Tourism".
First flights of the reusable VTOL test rocket DC-X. These demonstrated that operating a rocket-powered vehicle need be no more complex or expensive than operating an aircraft.
1994 March, at the American Society of Civil Engineers ( ASCE) "SPACE 94" conference in Albuquerque, a paper was presented on the feasibility of commercial "space business parks" ( Chuck Lauer).
Space 94 papers were also presented on the results of the Japanese market research, and on the design of zero gravity sports centers by Hazama Corporation, a major construction company.
May, at the 19th International Symposium on Space Technology and Science ( ISTS) in Yokohama, 4 papers from the JRS study program, including the design of " Kankoh-maru", the JRS passenger launch vehicle to carry 50 passengers to and from LEO, were presented
May, The CSTS "Commercial Space Transportation Study Final Report" included the first study by major US aerospace companies of the potential market for space tourism. True, they came to the wrong conclusion - that space tourism wasn't feasible(!) But they made a serious start, and some of the member companies have continued.
JRS published second Special Issue on Space Tourism of its Journal of Space Technology and Science (Vol 10, No 2).
October, " Considerations on Vehicle Design Criteria for Space Tourism", presenting the design of Kankoh-maru, was presented at the annual IAF Congress.
1/20 scale model of Kankoh-maru was displayed at Farnborough International Air Show.
1995 May, JRS Transportation Research Committee starts second phase of work to estimate development and manufacturing cost of Kankoh-maru. JRS Business Research Committee established to study operation of Kankoh-maru and publishes "Study on Airport Services for Space Tourism".
September, the Space Transportation Association (STA) in Washington DC started a study of space tourism with cooperation from NASA.
August-September, market research on the demand for space tourism performed by telephone in Canada and the USA, and by direct interview in Germany showing a huge potential market world-wide.
October, US Office of Commercial Space Transportation (OCST) formally moved into the Federal Aviation Administration. This recognized that the aviation industry's enormous accumulated experience should be used to make space travel a commercial activity.
December, ISCOPS conference at Marina del Rey, JRS study of operating Kankoh-maru from airports was presented. It concluded "...there will be no substantial difficulty for airports to be used for space tourism vehicles."
"The ROTON Concept and its Unique Operations" describing the design of ROTON, an "orbital helicopter" presented at ISCOPS by Gary Hudson.
"Demand for Space Tourism in America and Japan, and its Implications for Future Space Activities" describing results of market research in Japan, America and Germany presented at ISCOPS. Discussion of space tourism on board Delta Clipper presented in "Designing User-Friendly Civilian Spacecraft" at ISCOPS by H Wichman.
1996 March/April, cover story of Ad Astra, the magazine of the US National Space Society (established by Werner Von Braun, and chaired by Buzz Aldrin), is "Space Tourism" - for the first time ever.
Draft paper " Space adventure travel: a working paper" circulated by Gordon Woodcock, concluding that it appears to be commercially promising.
May 15, results of Berlin survey are reported in "Prospects of Space Tourism" at the 9th European Aerospace Convention by Sven Abitzsch.
May 18, the "X" Prize project was publicly launched at a Gala Dinner in St Louis. Speeches were made linking the "X" Prize to space tourism. (Mr Goldin, Administrator of NASA also attended the press conference and spoke in favour, including: "I hope my grandson who is 2 years old will be able to go on a trip to a lunar hotel." Even just a few years ago such a speech was inconceivable; the topic of space tourism wasn't mentionable by "real" space industry people. Yet now the head of NASA can think of no more exciting space goal for his grand-child than to be able to stay in a hotel on the Moon. Quite right!)
At the 20th ISTS in Gifu, NASA's Barbara Stone presented " Space Tourism: The Making of a New Industry" which concluded "Studies and surveys world-wide suggest that space tourism has the potential to be the next major space business". Papers were also presented on the DC-XA and its future evolution (" The Road from Delta Clipper Experimental to Operational SSTO", Gaubatz), and on the regulatory reforms needed for space tourism ("The Regulatory Reform Agenda for the Era of Passenger Space Transportation", P Collins).
May 28, the JRS held the first of a series of Rocket Symposiums on the lessons for rocket engineering learned from its Space Tourism Study Program to date.
June, at the American Society of Civil Engineers' SPACE 96 conference, in the session on commercialization, a paper was presented on the legal issues that need to be resolved before private commercial facilities can be constructed in orbit by Chuck Lauer. It was said of space tourism that "The "T" word has come out of the closet".
July, NASA announces award of $900 million 3-year contract to Lockheed Martin to build and fly the " X-33" unpiloted, reusable rocket test-vehicle to speeds of Mach 15.
September, Kankoh-maru model is displayed again at Farnborough international Air Show, generating a number of newspaper articles and TV appearances.
STA-NASA space tourism study steering group meeting. Concluded that the obstacles facing establishment of a space tourism industry could be overcome "within 15 years".
2nd JRS Rocket Symposium
October, Space Frontier Foundation annual conference has space tourism as a major theme.
November, Aerospace America runs an article (" Japan plans day trips to space") on Kankoh-maru - the first time that a mainstream aerospace journal has done so. By coincidence, in the same issue is an article arguing that the "Venture Star" vehicle will probably not be built: the technology is feasible, but the demand for launch of uncrewed payloads is too small to justify commercial investment of $6 billion (" The rocky road to space-launch heaven", J Grey). Now, if Venture Star was being designed to carry passengers, there'd be no shortage of demand.....
November 25, 3rd JRS Rocket Symposium
December - January, Flurry of newspaper and magazine articles and radio interviews in Japan about Kankoh-maru project.
1997 February, At IEEE Aerospace Conference at Snowmass, Colorado, 3 papers deal with space tourism: "Space Tourism - How Soon Will it Happen?" by David Ashford, "Space Tourism - The Surprising New Industry" by Patrick Collins, and " Requirements and design for space tourist transportation" by Jay Penn and Charles Lindley.
STA-NASA workshop held in Washington DC to consider range of issues relating to establishing space tourism business.
National Space Society adds promotion of space tourism as one of the Society' s formal objectives.
Announcement of establishment of "Space Tourism Society" based in LA, chaired by Buzz Aldrin.
March, First International Symposium on Space Tourism held in Bremen, organised by Space Tours gmbh. 20 papers presented to 80 attendees. Very positive national press coverage in Germany.
March 25, 4th JRS Rocket Symposium
April 7, Aviation Week carries positive 3-page article " Studies claim space tourism feasible" about space tourism based on papers presented at the IEEE Aerospace Conference (February, above) - the first time they've covered the subject.
April 11, JRS project appears on national Japanese television.
April 21, The very first space burials are carried by Earthview 01, carrying the ashes of 24 people including Gene Roddenbery and Timothy Leary.
July, The RIBA Journal publishes a two page spread on a new hotel design presented by the architects Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo.
July 21/22, Cheap Access To Space (CATS) conference held in Washington DC jointly sponsored by NASA and the Space Frontier Foundation. Rotary Rocket and Pioneer Rocketplane both issue press releases. Oh, and Space Future opens!
July 23, JRS Transportation Committee publishes 2nd report on development and manufacturing costs of Kankoh-maru.
July 25, 5 papers presented at ISCOPS conference in Nagasaki Japan. The Kankoh-maru project is covered in the Nihon Keizai Newspaper for the first time.
October 5, In his opening speech to the annual congress of the International Astronautical Federation ( IAF) held in Torino, Italy, President Karl Doetsch refers to space tourism as one of the only businesses which will enable the launch industry to grow significantly.
October 6, Session on Space Travel and Tourism held at IAF Congress - the first time that an IAF Congress session has ever been held on this subject. Paper from the Aerospace Corporation concludes that passenger-carrying rockets are technically feasible today, but the space industry needs to change its way of thinking to become more like aviation.
November, Space Tourism is one of the themes at the Space Frontier Foundation Conference held in LA, at which most of the new reusable rocket companies appear.
"New Type" magazine in Japan asks its (mainly young) readers "What would you most like to do before you die?" The most popular ambition? To travel to space.
Extensive press coverage of plan by newly-founded Zegrahm Space Voyages to carry passengers to 100 km in a two-stage HTOL rocket-plane being designed by Vela Technology and Aeroastro Inc - supposedly to start service on December 1, 2001.
1998 January 1, Japan's first space travel company, Spacetopia Inc, founded, "dedicated to realising the new era of popular space travel"
January 21, Planned press conference to announce results of cooperative NASA/STA study on General Public Space Travel and Tourism is cancelled.
January 25-29, AIAA Workshop in Banff, Canada on international cooperation in space includes Space Tourism as one of 5 themes. Report to be published by the AIAA in 2-3 months.
Business Week, Fortune and Popular Science all publish articles on the US venture companies Kelly Space Technology, Kistler Aerospace, Pioneer Rocketplane and Rotary Rocket that are developing reusable launch vehicles.
Daimler-Benz Aerospace GmbH (with DASA, the major sponsor of the 1st International Symposium on Space Tourism held in Bremen in March 1997) starts formal in-house study of space tourism. The study is to run through 1998, and make recommendations to the company for future strategy.
March 25, Press conference held on Capitol Hill to announce the release of "General Public Space Travel and Tourism", the final report of a joint study by STA and NASA started in September 1995. An important landmark: NASA admits that space tourism is both feasible and economically desirable. [Commentary]
April, Suntory announces a campaign with Pepsi-Cola Japan in which winners will receive tickets for sub-orbital flights to space.
April 17-19, Space Access conference held in Phoenix. Attendees hear updates on the efforts of companies developing reusable launch vehicles, and those trying to create a supportive legal environment. Things are in the most promising state they've been to date. [Conference Report]
April 26-30, Space 98, biennial space conference of ASCE held in Albuquerque. Sessions on space tourism, space commercialization, space access and space ports, among many others. Special Invitation lecture on space tourism by Tom Rogers and Patrick Collins.
May 20, The X Prize Foundation announces the successful raising of $5 million towards the prize's target of $10 million and launched the "X Prize Sweepstakes", of which the grand prize is a flight into space. The sweepstakes are being sponsored by Space Adventures, Inc. and First USA Bank, who launched an X Prize credit card featuring space tourism artwork which automatically enters holders into the sweepstakes. [Press Release]
May, FAA starts study of extending air traffic management upwards to include low Earth orbit.
July, 1st Space Tourism Fair held on board the Queen Mary liner at Long Beach California, organised by the Space Tourism Society. Good company sponsorship and attendance led organisers to decide to hold the Fair again (bigger and better) in 1999.
Report on AIAA/ CEAS/ CASI Workshop on International Cooperation in Space published by AIAA. Recommends that "In light of its great potential, public space travel should be viewed as the next large, new area of commercial space activity". (See "Report of Working Group No. 4 of the AIAA/CEAS/CASI Workshop on International Cooperation in Space")
Space Policy Journal publishes article, "Space Tourism: a response to continuing decay in US civil space financial support" by Tom Rogers, President of the US Space Transportation Association.
September, Formation of Japanese Rocket Society's Commercial Space Transportation Legislation Research Committee
September 22, Financial Times newspaper publishes article on space tourism, "To boldly go away for the weekend."
September 27 - October 2, IAF Congress held in Melbourne. [Report]
First meeting of newly founded International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) Public Space Travel Group. (Once the group's initial plans are agreed, they will be posted on a dedicated area of the IAA's web-site.) Papers on space tourism dominate Session IAA.1.5 on Economics and Commercialisation Papers in other sessions deal with legal issues relating to space tourism.
Sept 28, Time Magazine publishes first article on space tourism, "Vacations in Orbit".
Japanese Rocket Society publishes Report of Space Tourism Business Research Committee.
Japanese Business Federation Keidanren publishes pamphlet " Space in Japan" including picture of " Kankoh-maru" over caption stating that they have expectations of space tourism for commercialising space activities - the only such project in the pamphlet's 10 pages.
Publication by Japanese Federation of " Space in Japan" pamphlet, ending with the sentence "Space tourism is expected to give a strong impetus toward the commercialization of space activities".
October 6, 1st UK-Japan Space Tourism Seminar held in Yokohama, Japan.
October 9-11, The 7th Space Frontier Foundation Conference includes a panel discussion on space tourism organised by Dennis Stone includes Tom Rogers, Buzz Aldrin, Eric Anderson, John Spencer, Patrick Collins, and Francis Domoy.
October 20-22, Papers on space tourism feature at ESA Workshop on Space Exploration and Resources Exploitation
IAF Congress hosts a session on space tourism.
NASA Administrator Goldin makes speech at NASA 40th anniversary gala dinner: " a few decades there will be a thriving tourist industry on the Moon."
November, Panel Discussion on Space Tourism at Space Frontier Foundation conference
November 3, Buzz Aldrin speaks for space tourism on The Late Show.
1999 February, Publication by NASA of 2nd volume of joint NASA-STA report "General Public Space Travel and Tourism".
March 1, Roll-out of Roton Atmospheric Test Vehicle at Rotary Rocket's Mojave center, followed by first test on May 22nd [More]
March 23, First flight of reusable VTOL rocket demonstrator by engineers from ISAS in Japan. [Photo]
April, Formation of Bigelow Aerospace Inc announced.
Formation of Virgin Galactic Airways announced.
April 19, 2nd UK-Japan Space Tourism Workshop, London. (Workshop Report due shortly)
April 21-23, 2nd International Symposium on Space Travel (ISST) held in Bremen, sponsored by Daimler-Chrysler Aerospace. [Report]
June 23-34, First Conference on Space Tourism held in USA in Washington DC by the Space Travel & Tourism Division of the Space Transportation Association. [Conference Report]
June 30-July 4, Tomorrow's World Live space tourism stand features 1/3 scale model of Bristol Spaceplanes' "Ascender" sub-orbital rocketplane at "Tomorrow's World Live" exhibition at Earl's Court Exhibition Centre, London.
September 23, Space Frontier all morning session on space tourism (for the first time). NASA administrator Goldin also stated he would put the NASA/STA report on the NASA web-site a promise he has still not kept as of August 2000.
October 7th Full session on space tourism at 50th IAF Congress, with 8 papers being presented as described here
October 18, San Francisco Chronicle runs article on space tourism stating: "NASA doesn't believe that its mission is to help taxpayers go to space."
2000 New Year, Various 'millenium' articles in newspapers and magazines refer to space tourism. [Report]
January 1, 90 minute TV program on space tourism broadcast on NHK. Norman Augustine, ex-CEO of Lockheed-Martin Corporation predicts that space tourism will become the main space activity in an article in 'Aviation Week'.
January, Formation of Mircorp announced to commercialise the MIR space station.
February 7, Forbes runs first article on space tourism: "The ultimate trip".
February 28 - March 2, The papers 'The Space Tourism Industry in 2030' and 'Orbital Sports Stadium' are presented at ASCE's 'Space 2000' conference in Albuquerque. The 'Great Debate' was won by the Moon team vs Mars.
March, Illustrations of the Japanese ' Kankoh-maru' and Bristol Spaceplanes' "Spacebus" appear here on the NASA web-site when searched for "space tourism".
April 4, Rodney Slater, US Transportation Secretary announces doubling of budget to the Office of Commercial Space Transportation (OCST).
May 23, Session on space tourism held at 5th International Benidorm Forum on the future of the tourism industry.
May 24-26, International Symposium on the Space Transportation Market held in Strasbourg. Most presentations concern the worsening squeeze in the satellite launch market due to the excess of suppliers over satellite launch customers, and the lack of demand for reusable launch vehicles for satellite launch. The only solution proposed was space tourism.
June 1, 3 sessions on space tourism held at 22nd International Symposium on Space Technology and Science ( ISTS) in Morioka, Japan. Presentations on Universal Spacelines, X-Prize, Airline operations, Insurance, and certification of Kankoh-maru for passenger carrying.
June, MirCorp announces the first fare-paying guest to visit MIR - Dennis Tito, founder of Wilshire Associates.
June 26, 2nd annual conference in Washington, DC of the Space Travel and Tourism Division of the Space Transportation Association (STA) hears all day discussion of progress towards and obstacles in the way of space tourism. STA Chief Scientist Tom Rogers states STA's policy that reusable launch vehicles (RLVs) cannot reduce launch costs unless they carry passengers, due to the lack of launch demand. Note all current space agency RLV work concerns satellite launch vehicles.
July 4, Report on space policy of the UK Department of Trade and Industry Select Committee published [Report]. Most importantly the committee recommends that the British government review its policy on launch vehicles (quoting from the submission by Space Future Consulting on the importance of space tourism), and that this should not be performed by the British National Space Centre (BNSC) which has blocked funding to Bristol Spaceplanes Ltd for several years.
July-August, International Space University Summer Session includes Design Project on Space Tourism (for the first time).
October 4, Space Tourism session at IAF congress well-attended. 8 papers presented.
October 20, First meeting on space tourism in France, held at the French space agency, CNES. Presentations by CNES, ESA, Astrium and ISU. Another meeting to be held at a later date.
October 21, All-afternoon session on space tourism at Space Frontier Foundation Conference in LA.
October 24, British government publishes reply to Select Committee - does not even mention passenger space travel, but commits to performing analysis of prospects for launch market. [Report]
October 30, Time Europe publishes first article on space tourism (Vol. 156 No. 18) "Destination: Outer Space: As tourism booms, travelers are lining up for a chance to sample the last frontier".
2001 February 6, Space Future's own Professor Patrick Collins gives a provocative, reform-oriented conference presentation in Washington D.C. for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's Administrator for Space Transportation entitled "The Prospects for Passenger Space Travel". Hundreds of aerospace professionals filled the auditorium where the AST's 4th annual conference on commercial space transportation took place. As Dr. Collins' presentation was one of the first of the entire conference, crowd attendance and attentiveness were at their peak. Taking advantage of the captive audience, the U.K.-born Dr. Collins raises issues not normally addressed in the United States regarding its previously relatively unquestioned space program. The key issues raised about NASA's "underperformance" resonated with nearly everyone, both during the conference and in several cases beyond.
February 28, Under the title "Money Could Buy Next Giant Leap In Space, Aldrin Says", Reuters' Dayan Candappa reports meeting between Buzz Aldrin and Arthur C Clarke in which they agree that space tourism is crucial to the future of space travel. [Article]
March 1, NASA cancels X-33 and X-34 RLV technology demonstrator programs after spending over $1 billion US and encountering numerous technical problems. Later, the US Air Force will consider and then reject plans to make X-33 a military project. [Article]
April 28, Dennis Tito becomes humanity's first paying space tourist, launching from Baikonur aboard a Russian Soyuz bound for International Space Station Alpha. MirCorp and Space Adventures helped organize the trip with Russian Aviation and Space Agency. Tito and two Russian cosmonauts later dock to Alpha, and Tito enjoys several days aboard the orbiting outpost. He returns safely after 128 orbits in 8 days. [Article]
June 20, For the first time in NASA's more than 40-year history, NASA funds are used to ask US citizens whether they would like to take a trip to space - and the results strongly endorse Space Future's position. Some of the results are accessible by downloading a PowerPoint file on the Web site of Kelly Space Inc. These include some key tables from a market survey performed of 2020 US citizens by Harris Polls. That survey confirms the potentially huge market for space tourism and leads to the report's conclusion that only space tourism offers a large enough market to enable reusable launch vehicles to reduce the cost of getting to orbit. This result of course invalidates all of the projects such as X-33, X-34 and SLI that NASA claims are intended to reduce launch costs - since they all focus on unpiloted satellite launch vehicles.
June 26, First US Congressional hearing on space tourism at the House subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, attended by reporters, space activists, and a large number of young people. The panelists are Mr. Dennis Tito, the world's first paying space tourist; "Buzz" Aldrin, the second man on the moon; Mike Hawes, NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Station; and Rick Tumlinson, founder and President of the Space Frontier Foundation, an activist group promoting commercial space activities. Tito calls for use of American and Russian spacecraft to cultivate passenger space travel and open up the International Space Station to more private citizen visits. [Report]
July 10, Representative Nick Lampson introduces House Resolution 2443, the 'Space Tourism Promotion Act of 2001', in the US House of Representatives. It is then referred to the Committee on Science and the Committee on Ways and Means. [Article]
July 25, NASA finally makes "General Public Space Travel and Tourism" -- the very positive report on feasibility of space tourism originally published by NASA in 1998 -- available via NASA's web-site. [Article]
July 25, Reusable VTOL rocket developed and first flown in 1999 at the Institute for Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) in Japan is upgraded and reflown successfully. Only 3 metres tall, the vehicle nevertheless uses a liquid hydrogen fuelled engine, and is designed for operability - quick turnround, easy maintenance and check-out. The ISAS' vehicle is currently the only reusable VTOL rocket vehicle in the world - since NASA cancelled the DC-XA project in 1995 after it had flown successfully a dozen times, having spent some $40 million on the project which it inherited from the US Department of Defence. [Article]
August 24, MirCorp announces agreement with the Russian government and with RSC Energia to design, develop, launch and operate the world's first private space station, Mini Station 1. MirCorp signs the agreement with the Russian Aviation and Space Agency, Rosaviakosmos, authorizing the mini station's development and the use of Soyuz spacecraft. The Russian-language document was signed by Yuri Koptev, director general of Rosaviakosmos, Yuri P. Semenov, president and director general of Energia, and MirCorp President Jeffrey Manber. [Article]
October 1, 52nd IAF Congress convenes in Toulouse, France. The topic of reusable launch vehicles (RLVs), as opposed to currently used expendable launch vehicles (ELVs), is developed in several symposia dedicated to space tourism and other possible new space markets. Most studies credit the RLV as the potential progenitor of such markets as tourism, solar power, medical services, entertainment, and even industrial production.
October 3, XCOR Aerospace successfully completes first phase of its flight test program for the EZ-Rocket. The EZ-Rocket is the world's first privately built rocket powered airplane. The EZ-Rocket took off from the Mojave Civilian Flight Test Center to an altitude of 6,200 feet before gliding back to Runway 30. The EZ-Rocket is powered by twin 400 pound thrust rocket engines designed and built by XCOR Aerospace. The flight test program passed its first milestone by flying with both engines for an engine run time of 96 seconds and total flight time of five minutes and twenty seconds. XCOR will use the EZ-Rocket to build experience for developing spaceplanes for space tourism. [Article]
October 5,, features headline article, "Space Tourism: Feasible or Flights of Fancy?" To assess the economic challenges facing space tourism, writer Leonard David interviewed scholars Geoffrey Crouch and Jordan Louviere. The two academics said that governments, regulators, insurance industries, and financial markets need to join forces to pave the way for the new industry. [Article] [Paper]
November 17, Space Adventures, Ltd., commissions market survey on space tourism. The result of the study indicates tremendous potential of space tourism market. Space Adventures' market analysis states that, at the price of $100,000, more than 10,000 people per year would purchase billion annual yield solely from sub-orbital tourist flights. Overall, 86% of those surveyed were interested in traveling into space for leisure and tourism. [Article]
November 21, MirCorp announces plans to launch winners of a prime time television game show to the ISS in 2003. The company receives permission from the Russian Aviation and Space Agency.
November 22, X-Prize competitor Starchaser Industries successfully launches its Nova single-seat suborbital rocket for first time. The unpiloted test from Morcambe Sands, England, reaches 1688.8 meters (5541 feet) and validated the rocket's airframe, mobile launch tower, parachute recovery system, and avionics. [Article]
November 27, The Presidential Commission on the Future of the US Aerospace Industry holds its first hearing. Buzz Aldrin, who is himself one of the Commissioners, presents the first testimony. He argues the case for the importance of developing "high volume human space transportation."
December 4, South African businessman Mark Shuttleworth signs contract with Russian Aviation and Space Agency to become second space tourist to ISS (after Dennis Tito). He is scheduled to launch aboard a Soyuz on April 20, 2002.
December 18, President Bush chooses Sean O'Keefe to be next NASA administrator; he later receives Senate ratification. O'Keefe is a former Deputy Director of the US government's Office of Management and Budget (OMB). A professional public sector manager, O'Keefe has said of the over-budget International Space Station project "...technical excellence at any cost is not an acceptable approach...." [Article]
2002 February 4, Aviation Week and Space Technology publishes an item by Boeing about recent work on space tourism vehicles. Boeing, who are the recipient of significant funding from NASA, conclude that the vehicle could not be developed commercially although the figures they quote support commercial viability. [Article]
March 15, Myasishchev Design Bureau (former builders of the Buran) and the Cosmopolis Suborbital Corporation announce C-21 Aerospace System for sub-orbital space tourist flights. Full-scale mockup is unveiled at Zhukovsky Air Base outside Moscow. [Article]
March 28, ABC's World News Tonight features a segment focused on space tourism and notes that NASA is not offering space tourism but that the Russians are. [Article]
April 25, Mark Shuttleworth becomes the second paying space tourist (although he insists that he isn't a space tourist but a cosmonaut), and also the first South African to visit space. [Article]
May 20, Zogby International announces preliminary results of the Futron/Zogby Space Travel Poll. 19% of the interviewees, comprising 450 adults with income of $250k/yr or net worth of $1m, said they would be likely to pay $100k for a suborbital trip, and 7% would pay $20m for a 2-week visit to orbit. [Article]
July 22, The Russian Aviaton and Space Agency announces plans for Lance Bass to become next fare-paying space tourist. [Article]
August 6, XCOR announces Xerus sub-orbital spaceplane project. [Article]
December 6, The Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry urges the US government to support space tourism in its Final Report. [Article]
2003 January 31, 'The Analysis of Space Concepts Enabled by New Transportation' (ASCENT) Study is published by Futron Corporation, showing strong support for a commercial RLV market. [Paper]
February 1, Space Shuttle Columbia breaks up over Texas on re-entry after completing it's 28th mission to orbit. The tragedy grounds NASA's Shuttle fleet and brings in to question the private commercial space industry.
February, Imperial College Press publishes 'Spaceflight Revolution' by Bristol Spaceplanes managing director David Ashford
April 3, Starchaser Industries shows off Nova II manned rocket capsule to the public. [Article]
April 20, Scaled Composites unveils the SpaceShipOne suborbital spaceplane, and its carrier White Knight, at the company's site in Mojave. [Article]
April 27, Space Tourism Society presents the first Space Tourism Pioneer Awards. [Article]
April 28, Blue Origin, backed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, announces it is joining the ranks of space vehicle developers. [Article]
August 10, Yuri Malenchenko, aboard the ISS, marries Ekaterina Dmitrieva (who was on the ground, in Texas).
December 17, SpaceShipOne breaks sound barrier (the first private commercial small aircraft to do so). [Article]
2004 January 9, Pioneer Rocketplane sign deal with Oklahoma Spaceport to develop passenger-carrying 'XP' rocketplane. [Article]
January 19, The Space Show celebrates its 300th show with guest Space Future's Dr. Patrick Collins. [MP3]
March 4, H.R.3752 'The Commercial Space Launch Ammendments Act of 2004' passes House, although it does not subsequently pass the Senate (but see also December 23 - H.R.5382).
April 7, FAA grants first ever commercial RLV license. [Article]
June 15, Armadillo Aerospace carry out a successful test flight of sub-orbital X-Prize contender Black Armadillo.
June 21, SpaceShipOne makes first flight to space. [Article] [Commentary]
May 12, X-Prize is renamed Ansari X-Prize after Anousheh and Amir Ansari provide the full funding for the $10m prize.
September 1, Space Tourism Society founder John Spencer's book 'Space Tourism - Do You Want To Go?' is published by Apogee Press.
September 14, The FAA gives approves Zero G Corporation's plans to offer weightless parabolic flights to the general public.
September 27, SpaceShipOne makes first qualifying flight to win the Ansari X-Prize. Pilot Mike Melvill becomes first to earn astronaut wings flying a private vehicle. [Article]
October 4, SpaceShipOne wins the Ansari X-Prize with its second qualifying flight. [Article]
October 7, Robert Bigelow of Bigelow Aerospace announces a new $50m prize, the Americas Space Prize, to spur development of a manned orbital RLV capable of serving space stations like the ones Bigelow Aerospace is planning to launch. Only US companies are elegible, and the prize expires if unclaimed before 2011.
December 23, H.R.5382, The Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act 'To promote the development of the emerging commercial human space flight industry, and for other purposes', is passed into law. The act sets out the legal framework and obligations of the FAA to start regulating private space flight operation while allowing for the risks associated with developing new reusable space vehicles.
2005 May 11, Space Adventures expands operations to Tokyo. [Article]
July 27, Scaled Composites and the Virgin Group announce the formation of jointly-owned The Spaceship Company to develop SpaceShipTwo and White Knight 2.
October 1, Dr. Greg Olsen becomes the third space tourist to visit space as a fare-paying passenger.
October 9, The inaugural X Prize Cup event is held in Las Cruces, New Mexico and is widely covered in the popular press.
October 17, Virgin Galactic starts accepting reservations for suborbital space flights.
November 3, Daisuke Enomoto is announced as the next space tourist, but later withdraws for reasons of health.
November 10, The British Interplanetary Society (BIS) holds a one-day conference dedicated to space tourism. Speakers include Will Whitehorn of Virgin Galactic, Chris Faranetta of Space Adventures, David Ashford of Bristol Spaceplanes and Dr. Patrick Collins of Space Future Consulting.
December 15, New Mexico announces plans for spaceport, with construction to start in 2007.
2006 February 17, Space Adventures announces plans to develop commercial spaceport in Ras Al-Khaimah (United Arab Emirates). [Article]
February 27, Rocketplane Inc (formerly Pioneer Rocketplane) buys out Kistler Aerospace and renames it Rocketplane Kistler (RPK).
May 4, The second Orbit Awards are awarded by the Space Tourism Society. Space Future is one of the recipients. [Article]
June 7, The Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) holds a conference dedicated to space tourism entitled "Space Tourism: From lofty dreams to commercial reality"
July 12, Bigelow Aerospace launches Genesis I from the ISC Kosmotras space and missile complex in Russia. The Genesis I is a 1/3 scale protype of a proposed space station module that uses an inflatable design which expands after the module reaches orbit.
August 24, Futron Corporation publishes a revision of their 2002 white paper. According to their analysis, 2008 will be the year in which tickets to space will become accessible to the public. However, they raise the cost estimate for a suborbital ticket from $100k to $200k.
September 19, Iranian-American entrepeneur Anousheh Ansari, already a well-known figure in space tourism for backing the X-Prize, becomes the fourth paying customer to visit the ISS.
October 3, Arthur C. Clarke Foundation awards Bigelow Aerospace with an Innovator Award.
October 20, Contestants compete for $2.5m in prize money at the Second X Prize Cup in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
February 12, Technologies of the Frontier (TDF) launches a petition to grant Europeans a constitutional right to space.
November 13, Blue Origin's Goddard vehicle is test-launched in Texas (although details are only released to the press in January of 2007).
December 15, FAA publishes rules and regulations for commercial space flight.
2007 January 3, Blue Origin, founded by's Jeff Bezos, briefly breaks its customary silence to release a video of a November test flight of its Goddard demonstrator.
January 9, Professor Stephen Hawking uses his birthday to announce his intention to become a space tourist aboard Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo in 2009. Like Toyohiro Akiyama, his trip is being sponsored, this time by Sir Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Galactic. ( Akiyama's flight to Mir was paid for by his employer, Tokyo Broadcast System).
March 21, SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket successfully reaches space but fails to achieve orbit.[Article]
March 26, Virgin Galactic agrees to pay $27.5m over 20 years to lease facilities at Spaceport America, located near Las Cruces, New Mexico.
April 3, Residents of Dona Ana County, New Mexico, vote to approve a 0.25% increase in sales tax to help fund Spaceport America.
April 7, Dr. Charles Simonyi becomes the fifth "space tourist" to visit the ISS and blogs about it. [Article]
June 28, Genesis II is successfully launched into space by Bigelow Aerospace.
June 14, EADS Astrium, builders of the Ariane rocket, announces plans for the single-stage four-person Astrium Space Jet. [Article]
July 5, Northrop Grumman buys Scaled Composites, creators of SpaceShipOne. [Article]
July 26, Three employees killed during a propulsion system test at Scaled Composites' facility in Mohave. [Article]
September 13, The $30M Google Lunar X Prize, a sequel of sorts to the Ansari X Prize, is launched. The deadline to win the prize is 31 December, 2014.
October 5, Travelex announces 'QUID' currency for use in space. The lozenge-shaped currency was developed in parnership with the UK's National Space Centre. [Link]
2008 January 31, 50th anniversary of the US in space. [Article]
January 23, Scaled Composites releases design details and pictures for SpaceShipTwo and White Knight Two.
March 26, XCOR Aerospace reveals a new spaceplane design updating their previous announced Xerus, called Lynx.
May 28, The IAA holds the first symposium on Personal Access to Space in Arachon, France. [Report]
July 28, The completed WhiteKnightTwo carrier vehicle is rolled out at Mohave Air and Spaceport in California. [Article]
July 29, Rocket Racing League debuts at the EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Washington. [Article]
September 28, SpaceX's expendable Falcon 1 rocket reaches orbit on the fourth attempt, becoming the first privately financed vehicle to do so. [Article]
October 10, Jim Benson, founder of SpaceDev, dies at age 63. [Article]
October 12, Video game pioneer Richard Garriott, son of astronaut Owen Garriott, becomes the 6th "space tourist" to visit the ISS. [Article]
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