Holiday on the Moon or a first-class cruise to Mars – this is what people most likely associate with the term ‘space tourism’. But the times when space tourism was all but something in the imagination are gone with commercial spaceflight becoming a concrete option for developing a large-scale business.
ESA to deliver opening speech
The space tourism community will gather at the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) – a multidisciplinary professional institution dedicated to the global aerospace community – which is hosting the conference “Space Tourism: From lofty dreams to commercial reality”, on 7 June 2006 in London, England. The symposium represents a forum for parties interested in the future of commercial passenger spaceflight.
Frank M. Salzgeber, Head of Commercial Development in ESA’s Human Spaceflight, Microgravity and Exploration Directorate, will give the opening speech at the event. Titled “Human Spaceflight in Europe, Institutional and Commercial Missions”, Salzgeber’s presentation will elaborate on ESA’s experience and role in this sector.
Private spaceflight since 2001
The age of space tourism was heralded by American millionaire Dennis Tito, who was the first to buy a 20 million dollar seat on a Russian Soyuz launcher to go on a one-week trip to the International Space Station in April 2001 through the space tourism company ‘Space Adventures’.
Since then, three other private spaceflight participants paid their own way to the International Space Station, with Japanese Daisuke "Dice-K" Enomoto being the next to fly in late 2006.
Since Burt Rutan’s ‘SpaceShipOne’ won him the 10 million dollar Ansari X Prize, awarded to the first person able to build a re-usable spacecraft for suborbital flights, the number of space tourism’s potential customers grew considerably.
Another company, ‘Virgin Galactic’, is seeking to explore the promising private spaceflight market: current studies estimate approximately 1000 paid-for suborbital flights between now and the end of the decade and a commercial space travel market worth 1 billion dollars by 2021.
The RAeS Space Tourism conference aims at bringing together parties that have a stake in Space Tourism’s future, to break down barriers and push the boundaries of the development of private spaceflight to a new level.