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Space Tourism
Part 2

On this page we look at several topics related to space tourism and offer some additional reference materials.

Space tourists will want to stay in a roomy habitat when they reach orbit and some serious work is going into devloping space hotels.

One way to experience weightlessness without going to space is to buy a ticket for a parabolic plane ride.

A vicarious way to travel space is to place personal tokens on spacecraft or simply broadcast a message towards another star via a big radio antenna.

Space Tourist Lodging

An orbiting Bigelow Aerospace facility
A future Bigelow Aerospace orbiting facility assembled from multiple
BA-330 inflatable modules. Such a facility would be used for
space tourism plus science and engineering projects.

While the mega-rich can now head directly for the ISS, what about the lesser rich space tourists? Sub-orbital hops will eventually become boring and even lapping the earth a few times in low earth orbit will become routine.

Not wanting to remain strapped into their seats for long periods of time in a small cramped spaceship, space tourists will demand somewhere to go to enjoy extended stays in space. It's unlikely the government-run ISS will welcome dozens or eventually hundreds of guests.

MirCorp, see below, was the first serious effort to fund a private space habitat. The project involved privatizing the Russian Mir space station. The project did fund the first private manned space mission but due to a series of unfortunate bad breaks, they did not succeed in time to prevent the de-orbiting of the station.

At about that same time in the late 1990s, early 2000s, Robert Bigelow began his Bigelow Aerospace company with the goal of creating orbital habitats using inflatable structure technology developed at NASA. So far, the company has successfully orbited two prototypes and is working on a crew capable spacecraft for launch in the 2011 timeframe. See below for more details.

The NewSpace Business section also includes information on Commercial Orbital Facilities.

In addition, see the Space Architecture section in Space Systems resources.

Bigelow Aerospace
This company is developing plans for a space tourism infrastructure that includes orbital hotels. Owner of Budget Suites of America, Robert Bigelow is planning to spend several hundred million dollars over the course of a couple of decades on this project.

The company began a collaboration with NASA on inflatable space habitats, continuing the work that began with NASA's Transhab project for the Space Station.

Bigelow plans a series of modules planned that will lead to the launch of crew capable habitats by 2010. Their first prototype module - Genesis I - was successfully launched on July 12, 2006. Genesis II was launched on June 28, 2007. The Sundancer module, a 3 person moduel, will launch in in late 2010.

See Space Transport News web log for the latest update. Do a search there on "Bigelow" to obtain a list of postings with links to stories about the project.




Orbital Technologies animation video.

Orbital Technologies
This Russia consortium, which includes the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation (Energia), plans to launch a commercial space station in the 2015-2016 time frame.

In the late 1990s, the telecom mogul Walter Anderson and some partners created this firm to work with the Russian RSC Energia company on obtaining rights to the Mir space station to use for commercial activities, particularly visits by space tourists.

However, the inability of Russia to support both Mir and its ISS committments forced Russia to de-orbit Mir in early 2001. So MirCorp shifted its emphasis to the ISS.

The company attempted to launch a commercial space station in collaboration with RSC. The $100 million dollar Mini Station 1 would "accommodate up to three visitors for 20-day stays..."

MirCorp hoped to use the station as a space tourism destination. It's also worked with several space toursit and game show enterprizes to send civilians to space - either the ISS, the MiniStation, or just a few orbits in a Soyuz..

The company also hoped to develop several commercial activities that range from TV broadcasts from space to micro-gravity product manufacture. For example, it arranged for a Radio Shack commercial to be filmed on the ISS.

Subsequently, Anderson, along with Dennis Wingo, shifted interest to Orbital Recovery, which is developing a space tug for docking with and maintaining comsats that have run out of station-keeping fuel.

MirCorp also became involved with the Xero company that planned to offer zero-gravity experiences on an airliner flying parabolic flights out of northern Sweden.

Anderson has been interviewed on The Space Show on April 25, 2004 and May 6, 2007.

Anderson in 2005 was arrested for tax invasion. The MirCorp company no longer exists but the site MirCorp.org provides the history of the company.

The movie Orphans of Apollo, released on DVD in 2009, tells the behind the scenes story of the MirCorp project.

Jeffrey Manber, who was deeply involved in the attempt to privatise Mir, posted on his Aviation Week blog a note about the " anniversary of the world’s first-and still only—privately funded manned space mission": Anniversary of MirCorp Mission - OnSpace/AvWeek - Apr.6.09. In a Space Show interview on Dec. 16, 2008, Manber gave lots of interesting background info on the MirCorp saga, as well as on Russian-US space relations in the 1990s.

MirCorp & Dennis Tito:
Dennis Tito first worked with MirCorp to go to Mir and undergo the Cosmonaut training program. After Mir was deorbited, MirCorp continued to facilitate his dealings with the Russian agencies, although Space Adventures became the primary agent.

Walt Anderson, the billionaire investor in MirCorp, once wrote an angry letter to Aviation Week disputing the level of Space Adventures involvement in initiating Tito's flight.

Space Buffs Attempt to Make Their Mir Tourist Venture Fly - Wall Street Journal - June.16.2000 - This was the first article to reveal the plans by Tito pay the Russians for a ride to Mir. MirCorp was his liason with the Russians. When Mir was deorbited he changed his destination to the ISS.

More links in the Space Tourism Archives and in Space Investing.

Space Island Group
This project wanted to use of Space Shuttle external tanks to build a commercial space station that could serve as a hotel for tourists as well as for scientific applications. The group's advisors included NASA and aerospace industry leaders.

See their information pages for more details and graphics about the design of their station.

Hilton Internation has provided some funding for the group

Lunar Architecture - Hans-Jurgen Rombaut
Rombaut is a Dutch architect who has developed a detailed design for a Moon hotel.

This architectural and development company has done some design studies of space hotels. There are no details given but the futuristic projects page does show artwork of a space station.

More resources:

Microgravity & High Altitude Experiences &
Spaceflight Training

Stephen Hawking experiences  weightlessness
(Courtesy ZERO-G)
Professor Stephen Hawking weightless during his parabolic flight on April 26, 2007.

Here are resources related to weightlessness experiences via rides on aircraft as they fly parabolic trajectories. There are now a number of ways that members of the public can pay for such rides.

Related Local Topics

ZERO-G: Zero Gravity Corporation
This company, began offering commercial parabolic flights to the public in Septmber 2004. The first 20 flights were already sold out before the official opening. ZERO-G was co-founded by Peter Diamandis who also co-founded the X-PRIZE,

A ride on the 90 minute flight costs around $3000. The first few parabolas give Mars-like gravity, the next set gives Moon-like gravity, and the last 10 or so give zero-g. This gradual approach to zero-g, plus keeping the number of parabolas at 20, greatly reduces the incidents of motion sickness.

Sponsored by Northup-Grumman, "teachers from across the U.S. and around the world will experience first hand the application of math, science and engineering principles to human activities in a weightless or low-gravity space environment". The program will let 240 teachers ride on the aircraft of Zero Gravity (ZERO-G)

Stephen Hawking's ZERO-G Flight on April 26, 2007:

Noah Fulmor and Erin Finnegan had their wedding on June 20, 2009 aboard a ZERO-G aircraft:

Alan Stern and family:

An interview with Tim Bailey, who works for the ZERO-G Corporation as a member of the Parabolic Flight Crew: Dream Jobs You've Never Heard Of: Parabolic Flight Crew - GeekDad/Wired.com - Dec.10.10:

Tim’s job is the closest thing there is to being an astronaut without actually going into space. He spends his days assisting and training people in aircraft flights that simulate a microgravity environment—effectively he’s a flight attendant teaching people how to fly—and he is one of only nine people on the planet qualified to do this.

Tim has performed over 150 such flights, each with multiple parabolas—where the craft goes up and down at a steep angles to create a “weightless” free-fall environment inside—equating to over 24 hours of his life that Tim has spent unencumbered by the Earthly bonds of gravity. This has led to Tim’s unique ability to, as he puts it, “execute some fairly bad-ass flips in any axis [x, y, and z].”


More info and articles:

European program that offers " Weightless Air Zero G flight - Parabolic flights AirZeroG on board Airbus A300". They are based in France but they also fly from Spaceport Sweden in Kiruna: Spaceport Sweden offers weightless flights - Spaceport Sweden - Dec.2012.

Atlas Aerospace - Zero Gravity
This Russian firm offers a wide range of space adventure experiences including parabolic flights

"Participate in parabolic flights for achievement zero gravity on russian IL-76 MDK airplane! The zero-g fligts technology is used for cosmonauts and astronauts training in weightlessness. Also commercial flights for advertising projects are carried out."


Aurora Aerospace
This company based in Oldsmar, Florida offers several astronaut training packages that include L-39 Albatros military jet flights, spacecraft simulator experience, and Zero-G Flights in a twin engine airplane.

This company planned to offer parabolic flights out of a base in Kiruna in northern Sweden. They would have used a Russian il-76. The company was supported by Mir-Corp. Appears to have folded as of 2008.

Adventure Travel Microgravity Packages
These adventure travel companies offer vacation packages that include microgravity flight experiences:

Microgravity Research Opportunities

Spaceflight Training and Space-like Experiences
There are services opening up to provide independent training facilities and education for those involved in space tourism. These could be pilots on space tourism vehicles or passengers that need a quick introduction to what they will encounter. There are also opportunities to fly high altitude jets that provide a near space experience.

Related Programs and Information

  • Weightlessness Course at Interglobal Space - an early attempt by Rand Simberg in collaboration with Weaver Aerospace to provide parabolic flights for the public. Unfortunately, the project was blocked by the FAA.

Media News & Articles

Space Tourism General Information

SpaceFuture - Space Tourism
SpaceFuture provides an huge amount of information on all aspects of space tourism. Sections include a Timeline of progress so far,space hotels, space sports, and more. The home page usually has recent news concerning space tourism.

Patrick Collins, editor of the site and a Professor of economics at Azabu University in Japan, is a long time proponent of space commericialization. Reports archived at the site include:


Space Tourism Videos
Documentaries, short reports, promotional videos, etc. related to space tourism:

Derek Webber gave this Google Tech-Talk in May 2009 titled, Space Tourism Markets: What We Know And What We Don't Know :


Lunar Tourism
Tourist flights to the Moon are no longer a crazy fantasy. Constellation Services, for example, has proposed the Lunar Express in which a Soyuz spacecraft attached to the ISS would be used for a fly-by of the Moon for about $100M.

For two passengers, the $50M tickets would be a lot more than the $20M Tito and Shuttleworth spent on their flights. However, compared to the billions spent to make Apollo 8 happen, its still a sign of how things are progressing.


Near-Term Prospects For Space Tourism

Rand Simberg investigates the prospects for space tourism. The report looks at preliminary services such as parabolic aircraft flights (see below), high altitude aircraft flights, and sub-orbital flights. (The latter includes an interesting discussion of modifying the X-34 for passengers.) Medical issues are reviewed.

He also discusses regulatory and liability issues, which may be the biggest hurdles for getting space tourism off the ground.


Expedition Earth
Space tourism information including an interesting comparison of sea yachts and future "space yachts". The group organized a world expo about space tourism in 1998 and planned a new one for 2002.

Space Tourism in Japan

  • Japan Times Series - Jan.14.07
  • Spacetopia - Japanese Space Tourism
    The Spacetopia website states the following:

    "Spacetopia Inc has been established to exploit the emerging market for space tourism and related services in Japan. It will also participate in other commercial space activities that will arise with the sharp reduction in launch costs that space passenger travel will bring about. Founded by partners with extensive knowledge of both the Japanese travel market and global efforts to bring space tourism services to reality, Spacetopia Inc will have three main fields of activity - travel, media, and business services. Spacetopia is a unique gateway to Japan for non-Japanese companies looking to participate in this field - whether seeking partners, aiming to serve the Japanese market, or requiring consultancy on specific projects."

Weddings & HoneyMoons in Space

Space Tourism Books

Robert Goehlich
Robert Goehlich did his graduate work on space tourism and is now doing postdoc work in Japan on this area. See info about his lecture series:

He also has two books based on his studies. From his space tourism class at Keio University you can obtain copies of his lectures in pdf format.

Space Tourism Society
This organization led by John Spencer is involved in various aspects of space tourism ranging from the design of space theme parks on earth to space yachts in orbit.

Politics of Space Tourism
As space tourism becomes a reality, government involvement becomes an important factor in its development. The dispute between NASA and the Russian space agencyover the Tito flight, for example, brought intense publicity to the issue.

Companies hoping to build reusable space ships for the tourist market need a clear and stable regulatory environment. They also will lobby Congress for tax credits or other support.

Here are various links related to the politics of space tourism.

Market Studies

The biggest question about space tourism is whether there is really a sizable market for it.

This is of particular interest with regard to sub-orbital rides since private companies can begin building sub-orbital vehicles today. But to get even the few $10s of millions needed to do that, they must convince investors that there exists a strong chance of getting their money back.

There have been various surveys over the years of varying size and depth. The new Zogby survey is considered the most significant since it was done by an impartial professional survey company and they talked only with people of high net worth, which is the group from whom space tourists would generally come.

The fact that Zogby found that 19% of the respondents were interested in sub-orbital flights is highly significant. Most companies proposing to build such vehicles only need 50-100 riders per year to make a profit.

Health & Safety Issues
How healthy does a space tourist need to be before he or she is allowed to fly? What stresses and strains will a space tourist on a suborbital flight undergo? Will there be age limits on space tourists? Here are some resources for such questions.

History of Space Tourism
Trips to space for the general public here have been discussed since the beginning of the rocket age in the 1920s and 1930s. But only since Tito's flight has it been taken generally seriously.

More Resources:

Vicarious Space Travel
Send some token of yourself to the cosmos...

A number of projects past and present involve sending personal messages and tangible mementos into space. This might involve a CD type disk intended as a time capsule that will travel in space or land on a planet. Or it could involve radio transimission to another star.

Google Lunar Legacy
This is part of the Google Lunar Prize program in which private organizations will compete for $30M in prize money to put a rover on the Moon. Members of the public can pay $10 and get a digital picture and message taken to the Moon on the rover. Half of the donation will go towards the contest purse, the other half to the X PRIZE Foundation's educational programs.


Operation Immortality
Personal spaceflight participant Richard Garriott has created this project in which he will take an archive of digital messages, data about humanity, and strands of DNA to the ISS during his trip in the fall of 2008.

The Mars Gravity Biosatellte project will test the effects of Martian gravity on mammals by spinning a satellite with a colony of mice aboard. Led by students from MIT, Georgia Tech, and several other schools, the project so far has gotten some seed money from NASA but it needs a lot more to keep on track.

With the YourNameInToSpace.org program, they are offering the public the opportunity to put a "name, signature, corporate logo, photograph, or other MIT-approved imagery" on the outside of the spacecraft for a donation. There will be a return capsule for the mice and those who pay the top price will get a piece of the hardware after it comes back to earth.

This French organized non-profit program plans to launch a capsule into an Earth orbit that would last 50000 years. The capsule will carry messages from ordinary people, biological samples and an extensive database of human knowledge. The letters K, E and O are 3 most common phonemes in major languages.

Signatures in Space
Since 1997 this project of the Space Day organization has arranged for the signatures of over 97,000 US elementary school children to be sent into space aboard space shuttles.

In the program a large poster is sent by Lockheed Martin to the school and all students are invited to sign it. The poster is then photographed and "NASA packages the negatives and includes them in the manifest of a U.S. Space Shuttle mission."

The flight typically occurs in the fall and schools are encouraged to arrange lesson plans and other activities around the particular shuttle mission.

After the flight, the poster is returned to the school along with a NASA certification and other documents and photos related to the flight.

Approximately 500 schools per year can participate.

Other Projects and Resources

Previous Projects


The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey



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