One of the typical images of the future, in the collective unconscious,
is the possibility of space flight and even of living in space for
work or for tourism.
After the historic flight of Dennis Tito, this is not just a dream
anymore. And many are already prepared to seize the opportunities
offered by this new fronteer.
The Russians and the Japanese are among the pioneers in the commercial
exploitation of space, but also senior american experts like Edwin
Aldrin (second man on the moon) have their plans.
Rumors keep on surfacing about the involvement of Hilton Hotels,
British Airways and Virgin with the Japanese, regarding a space
hotel. Plans are rather advanced.
Since 1993, the Japanese Rocket Society have been working very hard
indeed on their Kankoh-maru SSTO VTOL, a vehicle designed to carry
50 people up to space at a time from more or less any airport anywhere.
Another project involves the construction of a permanent resort.
According to Gene Meyers, president of Space Island Group, the space
resort will be assembled by using external fuel tanks from NASA's
space shuttle that will remain in orbit until at least twelve are
assembled end-to-end to form a ring. Two additional tanks will be
joined together to create a center column, with several small tubes
connecting the outer ring with the center column. Space Island Group
is a leader in developing a plan to design, build and operate commercial
space transportation systems and destinations dedicated to commerce,
research, satellite repair, manufacturing, tourism and many other
uses in space.
wheel shaped stations rim interiors would have the "feel" of 1/3
normal gravity. Dining, bathing and other activities would be practical,
and would avoid the harmful physical effects of zero-g. The central
column could receive and store the station’s supplies, and house
its mechanical and electronic systems. Zero-g suites or work areas
could be built into several free-floating ETs drifting a few hundred
yards from the wheel, guided by the wheel-station's crew. The President
recently signed legislation allowing commercial shuttle launches
at rates "substantially" below NASA’s costs, whatever those costs
are found to be. While each shuttle can deliver up to 50,000 pounds
of cargo to orbit, the fact that it also delivers a 66,000 ET having
nearly 90,000 cubic feet of safe, habitable interior space to orbit
on each flight has been completely overlooked. An Aft Cargo Carrier
is essentially a storage compartment added to the rear end of a
standard ET, serving much the same function as a trunk serves on
a car. The Wheel Stations Hydroponics rooms will be able to grow
a variety of vegetables, fruits and seafood allowing the stations
Aldrin, of Apollo 11, Starcraft Enterprises and ShareSpace, spoke
of his long-standing efforts to generate expanded efforts for space
development. In recent years these have extended to include support
for the development of space travel and tourism services for the
general public. Buzz focussed particularly on his efforts to get
the "Starbooster" family of general-purpose boosters developed in
order to reduce the launch costs of existing rockets. More recently
Buzz has been working to realise his idea for ShareSpace - an international
lottery organisation that would provide prizes of space tourism
and related services. If this can get under way, it could play a
significant role in actualising the potential demand for space travel
services so that it can help to generate the credibility and funding
needed for the development of passenger launch vehicles. (The idea
is well-described in the early part of Buzz's novel "Encounter with
Tiber" - though there's apparently an even better one on the way!)