There was also an earlier report that two
potential space tourists were already in training. (This training
can also be arranged as an "adventure" experience
for its own sake and doesn't necessarily mean that it will
lead to a flight.)
It is well known that Titanic director James
Cameron has been trying to arrange a trip to the station.
However, he wants to carry out an extensive
film project that includes a spacewalk for himself. This
involves far more training and use of the station facilities
and crew time than the other space tourists. While he would
pay for the trip, this will be more of joint NASA/Cameron
documentary production than a space tourist trip and will
take a long time to arrange if ever.
As indicated in the Space
Tourism section, there are also plans by other
TV production companies to send game show and "reality
TV" contest winners to the ISS.
So a rough estimate indicates at least a dozen
seats can be filled already with just the currently publicized
requests for space trips.
Space Tourist Business - Not for the Fainthearted
The space tourism business is certainly undergoing
a tumultuous birth. Dennis Tito's flight, for example, was
famous not just because it was the first tourist trip to space
but also because of the the huge battle that NASA fought to
block his flight.
NASA has since become reconciled to tourist
visits to the ISS. Recently a set of guidelines were agreed
to by all the station partneres NASA
Releases Space Traveler Guidelines - Spaceref - Feb.1.02.
Meanwhile, the business of arranging flights
on the Russian rockets to the station continues to provide
a separate source of entertainment. For the next several years
there will be two Soyuz taxi flights per year that will have
a spare seat available for tourists. The exact rules, if there
are any, for reserving those seats are only known to the Russian
Space Agency Rosaviakosmos.
The primary players competing for those seats
(and its partner travel agent company Incredible
Adventures) and Space
Adventures. MirCorp started the whole space tourism business
by attempting to arrange a flight for Tito to the Mir station.
When Mir was de-orbited, though, he switched to Space Adventures
who set up a trip instead to the ISS.
Space Adventures offers many different exotic
tourist packages and has led the way in offering space related
tourist adventures such as zero-gravity plane flights, cosmonaut
training, and high altitude MIG jet fighter flights. It is
even taking reservations for sub-orbital rocket rides in a
few years when a suitable vehicle is available.
There apparently is some bad blood between
the two companies over the Tito arrangements. Walt Anderson,
the billionaire investor in MirCorp, wrote an angry letter
to Aviation Week & Space Technology last summer stating
that Space Adventures had little or nothing to do with Tito's
When MirCorp announced that it was negotiating
the seat for Lance, a spokesman for Rosaviakosmos angrily
proclaimed that MirCorp had no right to sell seats on the
says 'N Sync's Bass will not blast off - Reuters/Yahoo - Feb.21.02.
However, these statements are probably just the opening salvos
in negotiations to sell the seats to the highest bidder. Similar
announcements were made during the long period leading up
to Tito's flight and last fall we heard that Stallworth's
flight had been canceled after his requests for extra time
on the station and other requirements were rejected.
Start of Something Big?
While the current space tourism situation
is messy, it is tremendously encouraging that even at $20
million per shot there exists such a big demand for seats.
This indicates that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg
and a huge market awaits for those who can lower the launch
For interesting discussions on the future
of space tourism, see the proceedings from the Space
Tourism Conference, June 25, 2001
held in Washington, D.C.