Space Tourism is the term that's come to be used to mean ordinary members of the public buying tickets to travel to space and back. Many people find this idea futuristic. But over the past few years a growing volume of professional work has been done on the subject, and it's now clear that setting up commercial space tourism services is a realistic target for business today.
But this idea of Space Tourism isn't at all familiar to most people, including the space industry, who are used to the idea that space is for research or military activities. Few people are aware of how much work has been done to show that tourism is a realistic goal, and how rapidly this work is now progressing.
Once travel to orbit becomes a commercial service, the question of how to get to space will be mainly one of saving up for a ticket - or looking for work in one of the many space hotels that will be built. Space offers unique pleasures including the view, and zero gravity activities that provide a whole range of things to do on an orbital holiday - including space sports.
Importantly, and contrary to what many people assume, the space agencies are not at all interested in space tourism, and are not trying to bring it about. This is a pity because space activities will never be profitable until tourism services begin, remaining small-scale, expensive, and dependent on taxes which come from you - which would you prefer?
Introduction: Space Tourism
"Space tourism" is the term that has come to be used to mean members of the public travelling to and from space by buying tickets like an airline. It's a distinct category of "space travel" which also includes travel in space for work purposes - to date, mainly by government staff. In recent years it has become increasingly recognised that, although government space agencies are not interested in space tourism, it is a legitimate objective of space development - and it is likely to generate substantial investment funds that will help to develop space. As on Earth, so in Space
On Earth governments provide a number of services, defence, police, a legal system. But most activities are private - done by individuals and companies. Well, it's going to be the same in space. The Cold War is now over, and space agencies' budgets are being cut. True, so far, instead of using their huge funding to try to develop a profitable business like space tourism, the agencies are continuing the same activities - even though taxpayers aren't so interested any more. However, the general public are very interested in travelling to space for themselves. So after some false starts in the 1950s, 60s and 80s, work towards realizing space tourism is finally starting to gather some momentum (see the timeline). And the reasons why it is going to happen this time include: Because people want it
Because it's a realistic objective
Because it's the only way in which space activities can become profitable Because it's the quickest way to start to use the limitless resources of space to solve our problems on Earth Because living in space involves every line of business, from construction to marketing, fashion, interior-design and law And not least,
Because it will be fun!
Please note, developing low-cost passenger launch vehicles is not just to create a pastime for the rich. In business, the companies that make big money are the ones that serve big markets. Like tourism on Earth, there will be a small expensive segment for the rich - but the great majority of space tourists will be middle-class customers - the greater majority of us. But utilizing space depends on access. Until access is cheap, we can't make use of the limitless resources available in space to solve the problems of our ever-more-crowded Earth. But once access is cheap then we can. And to make it cheap we need large turnover. Tourism can generate the large-scale launch activity needed to reduce costs sufficiently...