1 November 1998
Media - Tourism (Strange)
Space is Hip Once Again
John Glenn Revives Space Interest, Could Space Commercialization be Far Behind?
by Sam Coniglio
At 2:19 pm today, the Space Shuttle Discovery carried US Senator John Glenn and six other astronauts into orbit in a nearly flawless launch. Glenn, the second American in space in 1961, returns to space at age 77.

The nostalgia machine is running full steam ahead. TV shows and newspapers have been playing the John Glenn story all week. His life and achievements were repeatedly portrayed while giving NASA a big morale boost. In a nutshell the media says "John Glenn is good. NASA is good. Old people can do things."

The debate about whether John Glenn going into space is a boondoggle was lightly covered on TV. On FOX News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor," Bill O'Reilly defended John Glenn's mission with generalizations. His opponent, Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union, astutely argued against the mission, and promoted private commercial space. O'Reilly countered that corporations would only pollute space, and it is too dangerous for anyone other than the government to go there.

The Cavuto Business Report on FOX News Channel had a discussion with Jim Benson, President and CEO of SpaceDev. Mr. Benson described how NASA Director Dan Goldin has encouraged commercial space development, and his Near Earth Asteroid Prospector is the first commercial space probe.

The same news show discussed space merchandising. QVC and the Home
Shopping Network were selling space souveneirs to millions of TV viewers. Kodak is making money by selling images from the mission.

Steve Lipman, president of Creation Creations of Watertown, Massachussetts, was on the show explaining how his space souveniers were selling like hotcakes. His company makes space souveneirs for the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center. He said he is making a huge profit from the public's interest in John Glenn's flight. He also said that space souveniers are popular all the time, not just because of the Glenn mission.

Private business is already profiting from space. They do not need to be there to make money. If only we can direct some of those profits into private rocket development.
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Sam Coniglio 1 November 1998
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