16 December 1997
Media - Other (None)
Hotel Mir
Russia's potential space tourist trap
"Hotel Mir: The American Plan" by Harvey Wichman, Director of the Aerospace Psychology Laboratory, Huntingdon Beach, California published in Space News, included the comments:
"...about seven years from now, I predict the development of an exciting new travel market: space tourism. Now is the time for American entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to begin making plans to capture that market."
Dr Wichman proposed that the Russian space station Mir could be converted into a hotel:
"While Mir no longer will be needed as a laboratory, it would make a great hotel and space resort... Using Mir as the first space hotel could speed the day when many civilians who have dreamed of going into Earth orbit actually can do so. It is time to stop hoping that our grandchildren get to space and go there ourselves."
All that it needs to happen is the availability of low-cost launch vehicles. However, it's important to remember that once launch costs get low enough for tourist flights to and from orbit, launching the components of a space hotel will also be far cheaper than in the past. Consequently it will be possible to make "hotels" considerably more luxurious than Mir.

The basic technology was all demonstrated more than 20 years ago by the first US station "Skylab". So once orbital tourism starts, orbital accommodation will rapidly become a field of straight business competition: different companies will try different approaches, and the ones offering the best service - ie the best combination of safety, cost, comfort and entertainment - will get the most customers. Mir, Almaz, Skylab-clones, Spacehab modules, External Tanks and/or new ventures - Let 'em all roll!
Source: Space News, October 20, 1997, p 13

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16 December 1997
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