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The Space Gazette

Space for Everyone      -     June 1, 2002     -         Vol. 2 No.11

Art in Space * Microgravity Experience

Dance the Flight Fantastic
Kitsou Dubois Dancing Weightless
Arts Catalyst
Kitsou Dubois dancing weightless.

Arts -Catalyst: the science-art agency is a British based organization that sponsors projects that combine art and science.

With the support of the European Space Agency and Russian space organizations, they have sponsored several space related projects such as Kitsou Dubois's: Gravity Zero.

The zero gravity projects involve participants riding in airplanes, like the ones used to train cosmonauts, that fly a series of parabolic trajectories. These produce near weightlessness for about 20 seconds at the top of the curves and double gravity at the bottom.

The objectives of the flights include developing a new medium of expression - Zero-G Dancing - and also the study of how the body moves in weightlessness.

Dancer and choreographer Kitsou Dubois of France collaborated on Gravity Zero with the Imperial College Biodynamics Group. During the weightless periods she would carry out particular movements as planned with "neurologists, physiologists and other specialists investigating the control of movement of the body in altered gravities."

As described in the article A Marriage Made in Heaven - Wired - May.17.02, the studies could help develop techniques for astronauts to adapt better to microgravity and could also produce clinical benefits such as helping patients with neurotrama regain back muscle control and good posture.

Earlier this year the zero gravity projects were showcased in the Art in Zero Gravity exhibition in London. During "four evenings of film, performance and talks" the dancers, scientists and cosmonauts presented the results of their projects and discussed new projects in development.

For more about art in microgravity and space, see the Art in Space section.

The Spacefaring Web
John Carter McKnight is taking a break from his column

Space Tourism

Sub-orbital Space Tourism Market Larger than Expected

Pioneer Rocketplane XP
Pioneer Rocketplane
The Pioneer Rocketplane XP would provide
sub-orbital flights for space tourism and other applications.

A poll of 450 wealthy individuals has found surprisingly high interest in short sub-orbital flights.

Building a high altitude sub-orbital vehicle would be far cheaper and quicker for private launch firms to accomplish than orbital vehicles.

However, the companies need a market of sufficient size to convince investors to give them the $25 to $50 million needed to develop a fleet of reliable and safe sub-orbital RLV's.

Sub-orbital space tourism could very well be that maket.

Passengers traveling to 100km or so in altitude would experience weightlessness, see the curvature of the earth and the black, starry sky of space. Plus they would be among the few to feel the kick in the pants acceleration of a rocket ride.

The trip would no doubt be combined into a package that included a week or so period of training and buildup to the flight.

There has been skepticism, however, about the size of the market for sub-orbital space tourism. The flights would be very short - 15 minutes to an hour depending on the system - and provide less than 5 minutes of weightlessness at the top of the arc.

Nevertheless, the flights would still be quite expensive.

The price must pay for the development of the vehicles and their operations. Space Adventures, as reported here many times, will charge $98,000 for its suborbital package (which will not offer actual flights until a vehicle is developed by someone else.)

Even though Space Adventures has reported that over 100 people have placed deposits for its suborbital vacation package, this anecdotal information hasn't been sufficient for launch companies to convince potential investors to provide the bucks to start building ships.

Tito and Shutteworth paid a lot for their trips but they got to spend a whole week in space.

At a recent lecture, Dennis Tito, in fact, said he considered sub-orbital flights to be mere "joyrides" and he didn't see a market for them.

So to convince the skeptics, a serious, professional survey has been needed to measure the potentital market with enough information to get a real picture of its size.

Fortunately, such a poll has now been carried out by the survey firm Zogby International. It was commissioned by Futron with funding by NASA's SLI project. Preliminary results were recently announced:

Futron/Zogby Public Space Travel Poll Space travel is new exciting option for those who can afford it; 7% of affluent would pay $20 million for 2-week orbital flight; 19% would pay $100,000 for 15-minute sub-orbital flight - Zogby PR - May.20.02

The survey shows that 19% would pay as much as $100,000 for a 15 minute sub-orbital flight. The number of households in the US with net worth over $500,000 is approaching 30 million households. If you assume that only those with wealth of at least a million or two would actually spend this much, it still implies a market of at least million potential customers for sub-orbital flights.

A market of that size is plenty big enough to sustain a profitable sub-orbital industry.

More info on this poll and sub-orbital rockets can be found at:

New Space Hobbies Article

The article Space Fun for Everyone: A brief survey of space hobbies and activities by Clark S. Lindsey was just published in the latest issue of National Space Society Ad Astra Magazine- May/June 2002 (pp.10-11) under the title Unconventional Space: Amateur Spacers?.

Submitted over a year ago, a few of the references are a bit dated and the piece covers some of the same ground as an article in Spaceflight Magazine. However, the latter article concentrates on the technical hobbies whereas this piece discusses a wider range of activities including many non-technical ones accessible to just about everybody.

Space Music , Filk & Folk

Space Filk Rising

The National Space Society (NSS) Space Songs CD was recently discussed here. Three of the songs come from a contest the NSS held in 1998 to "raise filk songs from obscurity". Filk refers to music inspired by science fiction and fantasy.

HobbySpace has itself now raised filk from an obscure entry hidden in an unrelated section to a page of its own (along with a short discussion of space songs in folk music.) The Filk & Folk page provides song listings, links to filk artists, audio file links, and other resources for this fun and often inspiring music.

Listings are given for the finalists in the song contest, the NSS Space Songs CD, and the first space songs anthology - Minus Ten and Counting - released way back in 1983.

Other Highlights in HobbySpace

Follow the Bears - follow the wanderings of the polar bears Louise & Gro as they explore their arctic world. The Earth Viewer in the Living Space section provides links to the World Wildlife Fund's project that tracks the polar bears via satellite transmitters attached to them.

Rocket Racing - Check on the latest news about the development of a rocket racing organization in the Future section.

Action in Activism: A number of interesting articles, essays and news have recently appeared recently with regard to humanity's move to space. Here is a sample:

Find previous space news in
Articles Index 1999-2002


See also  
Space Headlines
RLV News
News Links

Eyes in the Sky

Room for a View
And what a view it is!

During his flight on the International Space Station, Dennis Tito said his favorite activity was simply looking out the window and taking pictures of the fascinating earthscapes below.

Astronauts have long spoken about the mesmerizing beauty of the earth as seen from space.

In fact, one of the earliest suggestions for human tasks in space was to carry out earth observation for both military and civilian applications.

The human eye provides tremendous discriminatory ability and can still detect unusual features far more quickly and efficiently than autonomous analysis systems.

However, as manned flights remained infrequent and expensive, unmanned military spy sats and remote sensing sats came to dominate earth observation.

Now, though, humans are making a comeback. With astronauts working for long periods on the ISS, which has an observation window with exceptionally clear glass, they are starting to show the power of human observation.

Photos taken by the astronauts have reached resolutions of 6m, in the range of the best remote sensing satellites.

Astronauts can spot interesting ephemeral events that stand out but would usually be missed by RS satellites.

If allowed to develop, researchers on the ground could eventually interact in real time with the astronauts and give quick feedback on what they are doing. The researchers, for example, might see something interesting in a recent image and then ask the astronauts to look for similar features at another spot on the earth.

For more about astronaut imaging, see the entry in the Eyes in the Sky section.

Eyes in the Sky

Finding Views of Earth

Until you can take your own Nikon to orbit, you can peruse the view as seen by private spysats and government remote sensing observatories.

For example, try out the DigitalGlobe Archive Search to find free low resolution images of a given location.

DigitalGlobe sells high-resolution, multi-band earth images from its Quickbird satellite that was launched in October 2001.

The Quickbird produces images of even higher resolution (~.6m) than Space Imaging's Ikonos satellite.

The free ones are reduced in sharpness but it can still be fun to see how your local town or state looks from space.

Find other earth image databases in the Eyes in the Sky section.

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