10 December 1998
Online - Tourism (Good)
Historic article on space tourism accessible on WWW
by Patrick Collins
The classic article "Studies Claim Space Tourism Feasible" published in 'Aviation Week & Space Technology' the leading aerospace industry magazine on April 7, 1997, pp 58-60, is now available on the Internet here. The 3-page article, by Aviation Week reporter William Scott, described 3 presentations at the 1997 IEEE Aerospace Conference held in Snowmass, Colorado, and is of considerable historic interest in being the first article about space tourism to be published in Aviation Week (though not the first time that the words have been used).

The first page shows the "Ascender" sub-orbital rocket-plane being designed by Bristol Spaceplanes Ltd as a candidate for the X Prize competition, and describes the presentation "Space Tourism - How Soon Will it Happen?" made by David Ashford, Bristol Spaceplanes' Managing Director. Ashford's Conference paper outlines Bristol Spaceplanes' low-cost approach towards 2-stage HTOL passenger-carrying launch vehicles. Since then a 1/5 scale model of "Ascender" has started flight testing, as reported in Aviation Week on July 27, 1998, testifying to the technical credibility of the project.

The article "Studies Claim Space Tourism Feasible" also describes some of the work of the Japanese Rocket Society ( JRS) in its "Space Tourism Study Program" started in 1993, and market research on the potential demand for space tourism carried out in Japan and the USA by Patrick Collins, then at the University of Tokyo, and colleagues, as described in his IEEE Aerospace Conference paper "Space Tourism - The Surprising New Industry ".

Finally the article also covered the presentation by Jay Penn of the Aerospace Corporation on " Requirements and Approach for a Space Tourism Launch System" in which he and Charles Lindley report on detailed parametric studies suggesting, like the JRS study, that space tourism could be a profitable business. Like the other two contributors, Penn and Lindley argue that the key is to adopt the aviation approach, recognising operability and large scale operations as the (only) way to reduce the cost of space travel. They conclude: "There are no fundamental technical obstacles to such a development. Probably the largest obstacle is the complete culture change that would be required before the rethinking and redesign of all major components of the system can begin."

In view of the endorsements of space tourism published in 1998 by both NASA/STA and the AIAA, this article is likely to be the first of many that will appear in Aviation Week in future as passenger travel grows into the largest use of space transportation.
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Patrick Collins 10 December 1998
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