Sci Station Canada

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The birth of Space Tourism?

Did we see the birth of the Space tourist Industry on Monday with the Maiden spaceflight of SpaceShipOne? I'd bet money on it and I'm a tightwad of legendary proportions! The business analysts are weighing in already - The Space review ran a story last week entitled "How many winners?"
With more than 20 companies planning X Prize or similar vehicles, how many of them can actually be supported by the space tourism market? Sam Dinkin says that the magic number is most likely three.
... Space Adventures who were behind the tourist placements on the ISS has started taking bookings ...
Space Tourists Willing to Risk Their Lives
Summary - (Jun 21, 2004) Want to go to space? Well, you're not alone. More than 100 potential space tourists have put their money on the line, and have set aside a $10,000 deposit with Space Adventures so they can be one of the first to head up on a suborbital flight. The company recently did a survey with these clients to find out how much risk they'd be willing to take; 69% would be on the first flight of SpaceShipOne, regardless of the danger. The first flights on a suborbital spacecraft like SpaceShipOne are going to cost more than $100,000 initially, but prices should come down in the coming years.
... And what do the Canadian teams think? ...
"'I expect that by 2010 millions of people will have taken a flight into space,' Geoff Sheerin, team leader for Canadian Arrow - one of two Canadian teams vying for the prize - remarked to Asia Times Online." 'Most predictions of markets are either overly optimistic or pessimistic, I have never seen any experts in an industry get the future predictions correct.' Sheerin says that the market, though small, exists. 'Take for instance Mount Everest climbers; it costs $50,000 to get a license to climb it, not to mention all travel and logistical expenses, there is a five-year waiting list and a one-in-five chance that you won't make it back alive, and still there are over 200 attempts each year.' "
Feeney - ever the tease - is on-line as saying ...
"We're cheering him on," he said. "In fact, I will be down there for it. We're somewhere in the late summer time frame for an all-out manned flight into space. And knowing something of Burt's potential X Prize flights, we feel that we're actually extremely competitive against him on that."
In the Toronto Star, Sheerin is also quoted as saying ...
"I want to see people banging on Burt's door with cash in their fists, quite a bit of it, saying: `Can you take me next?'" said Sheerin, who plans to watch the flight live on television. What's good for one in this business, is good for all. Because it's profits that will inspire the industry. And that's the way to get the investment ... for people to see there's the potential for profit. If they see that, there will be people looking to invest in various sub-orbital tourist schemes."
..."Sheerin says that, in addition to rigorous technical safety analysis, engineers ask themselves a very basic question. What really drives the engineering team is: `Your mother's on board. Now how do you feel?'" he says. (The assumption, of course, is that the maternal bond is a good one.) ... Both Canadian teams, though they have dedicated sponsors, have yet to benefit from the Canadian version of Paul G. Allen, who invested a reported $20 to $25 million in Rutan's project. (If you happen to be such a person, Feeney or Sheerin would be delighted to hear from you.)
Feeney is even issuing a patriotic call for volunteers to help with his project. He's looking for people with special skills in composite materials like carbon fibre, along with skilled electricians, metal fabricators, welders and woodworkers. Good set builders from the film industry, he says, are welcome.
"It's a call to arms, in a way. It gives us a manpower fighting chance to beat the almighty (Burt Rutan) down south." If you're interested, show up next Saturday, June 26, at 60 Carl Hall Rd., Unit One, Downsview Park. Really.

Just like the aviation industry it will start off as the domain of the rich and famous - watch out for pop stars with astronauts wings - and eventually end up as another compenent of the Transport industry. The question is who will be the winners in the race to grab their section of this new industry? New Mexico? Saskatchewan? Woomera? [falls about laughing, thinking about the chances of that last one]
Yup, I've got my five dollars on it ... well I told you I was a tight wad!


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