MAIN ARTICLE: Who wants to go boldly into space?
Is space for everyone or only a select few? Will it always be the same? Join the discussion.
Poll Results: Yesterday's poll had a strong result against space. Scroll down for the latest in space polling.
Star Trek: In the News. 'Star Trek' director J.J. Abrams on tribbles and the 'Galaxy Quest' problem.
Yesterday's Comments: "Heh! "Lockheed Martian" now I did it too" - Bill White
Today's Poll: Is funding space tourism good or bad?
After doing about 80 diaries, with each including a poll, on the subject of outer space in general, and human space flight in particular, I believe I can safely make a few observations. Poll data collected is NOT to be considered in the same light as a professional poll conducted by Gallup. These are nothing more then simple opinion polls of DKOS members who actually participate in the poll. The samples only average 55 votes per poll with ranges from 20 - 200 per poll. That is a very small sampling. Looking at returns of professional polling data though shows a lot of these poll results do fall within the same ranges I see on those polls. (see "Public Favorable Toward NASA, Space Exploration", Gallup, January 17, 2006)
PRO EARTH v.s. PRO SPACE
The first division takes place with the basic question of should America be in space at all in the first place. There is the "cut all space spending and fix earth first", and those that feel there should be some level of space spending. Those members who vote for cuts in funding typically range between 10% to 20% based on various issues. This falls within Gallup's 17% range. Yesterday's poll is an example of one on the extreme end where 51% wanted space funding cut based on a single issue.
Those in favor of space spending are still in debate over how much funding and what is it going to fund.
PRO SPACE v.s. PRO SPACE
The second division is within those that favor space spending and are, in general, divided into two camps. Robotic science missions versus human space flight and what is the balance between the two. Those that favor robotic missions are about 60% and 40% that favor human space flight development.
This leads us to today's main article which has to do with human space flight and yesterday's poll results and comments. Reuters ran a story yesterday:
"DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - The economic downturn has not dampened rich people's enthusiasm for space tourism, the world's first commercial space flight company says.
"Business is good," Eric Anderson, chief executive of privately owned Space Adventures, told Reuters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.
The U.S. company has sold seats worth about $175 million on Russian rockets to the International Space Station and is preparing to send Hungarian computer software executive Charles Simonyi into space for the second time in March.
His $35-million trip will be the seventh arranged by Space Adventures since U.S. multimillionaire Dennis Tito paid for a trip into space in 2001.
Such journeys could be threatened by Russian plans to double the size of the space station's professional crew although Space Adventures reached a deal with Russia's Federal Space Agency last year to launch its own private trip to the station in 2011.
"Access to Soyuz seats is becoming more difficult, which is why we purchased our own mission," Anderson said, referring to the Soyuz spacecraft used by Moscow.
Several customers have put down deposits for future space travel, including Sergey Brin, co-founder of U.S. company Google.
Anderson is hoping to drum up more business among the world's business elite in Davos this week but customers should not expect any bargains because of the global financial turmoil.
A standard trip to the space station carries a price tag of $35-45 million. For an extra $10 million you have the chance to be the first private citizen to walk in space."
The idea that any federal tax dollars should be used for funding the development of a commercial space economy and in particular, space tourism, generally is not well recieved (see poll results). With titles like that, using the term "super rich", immediately pushes the debate into a class warfare issue.
A comment yesterday sums up comments seen on this topic:
"Playboy dilettantes don't have all that great a record of success of bringing their personal toys to mass market.
As for your second question, I suspect I'd also see the sun, the earth, and some very dim lights.
I'm personally of the belief that "cheap space access" is an oxymoron. Space is, well, space: somewhere where there's nothing worth doing, seeing or having." - jxg
The idea of funding tourism is seen as frivalous, especially in these hard times. The latest data I could find is from 1999 with projections to 2010: data
Travel & Tourism High Lights for 1999
"Travel & Tourism Impact Direct and Indirect upon the Global Economy
11% of GDP
200 Million Jobs
8% of Total Employment
5.5 Million New Jobs per year until 2010"
Almost one job in ten is involved in one way another with travel and tourism. This is just not in United States, this is across the ENTIRE planet! 11% of planetary GDP is involved in this activity.
What does that say about humanity when it's number one economic activity is involved with visiting strange new places, meeting new people and interacting with different cultures?
The idea that funding or helping with funding a new form of tourism is somehow bad just boggles my mind. It defines humanity. I strongly advocate bringing space into our daily sphere of economic activity. Space tourism is just one of many human space activities that I advocate for. I have often times made comments across various diaries "Green jobs on the ground, high tech jobs in space". If we want to build towards the future with jobs for the 21st century then Space is the Place.
Just as traveling by a luxury cruise ship on the ocean or using an airline was considered only for the rich and famous when they started, space finds itself in the same position today. But those means of travel have moved to the general public in affordability it will be the same for space. But only if we are willing to put our minds, some elbow grease and minimal funding towards it's development.
I do not advocate for throwing a ton of money at it with no controls, but to put some of our best minds to look into how a tiny bit of priming the pump can help America develop a new industry for the future benefit of all Americans.
This is just a copy of the poll so that readers can see it as it ran.
"Should America help fund the development of Commercial Space Tourism?"
05% Yes, fully fund this new start up industry for American jobs for the 21st century.
24% Yes, partially fund this new start up industry for American jobs for the 21st century.
15% Yes, help this industry with low taxes and regulation not direct funding.
51% No, let private enterprise invest in this industry. Fix Earth first.
03% No Opinion.
STAR TREK: In the News.
"Gene Roddenberry had this notion in the early 1960s about a television show that felt like "Wagon Train" in space, a frontier tale with groovy sci-fi imagery and a proud parable spirit. And just look what he started. In May, the pop culture phenomena of "Star Trek" proudly returns where it has gone before -- the movie theater -- with the 11th film in the franchise. This time the director is J.J. Abrams, a creative force in television with "Alias," "Lost" and "Fringe" as well as the director of "Mission Impossible III." He talked to Hero Complex about navigating his movie through the neutral zone that lies between hard-core "Trek" fans and summer moviegoers. This is part one of the interview.
GB: As franchises move into new eras it's interesting to watch how they change -- or don't change. "Battlestar Galactica" could hardly be more different than it was in the 1970s while "Star Wars" is essentially the same. With "Star Trek" you seem to be pursuing a revival like we've seen with Batman and James Bond, which holds on to core mythology but recalibrates the tone.
JJA: I think I benefited because I came into this movie as someone who appreciated "Star Trek" but wasn't an insane fanatic about it. The disadvantage is I didn't know everything I needed to know immediately at the beginning and had to learn it. The advantage though is I could look at "Star Trek" as a whole a little bit more like a typical moviegoer would see it; it allowed me to seize the things that I felt were truly the most iconic and important aspects of the original series and yet not be serving the master and trying to be true to every arcane detail. It let me look at the things I knew were critical."
"I'm not all that worried about the European program... they don't have a real good track record when it comes to putting people in space.. now if it were a Russian or Chinese program? Yeah I would have some interest... but European? Sucker will get regulated into a coma or Branson will pull funding to concentrate on core business." - skippythebox
"I said yes to the first one And I want space travel to someday be done on the mass level with ease. Of course we are a long way away from that.
I support Public Sector efforts to get people to go into space--for research, or eventual recreation--but I don't support any private sector efforts to do so." - Notus
"Europe to Australia in 90 minutes? Never mind space tourism. This has business and terrestrial tourism applications.
Sure it would be a neat experience for civilians to routinely fly in space, but that feeling would become passe in time. Instead, imagine the possibilities of regular commercial service like this.
I've known people who have flown from San Fransisco to Sydney in 14 hours. All the reports were that it was -- if not a nightmare -- at least an unpleasant experience being stuck in a plane seat for more than half a day.
Besides the physical discomfort, that is half a day lost to travel time. Then there is the return trip. Commercial space travel could make a long weekend vacation to Australia feasible with the added benefit of a brief trip in space.
This is the next generation of the Supersonic. Let's get this thing developed. I want to vacation in a Land Down Under." - Casual Wednesday
Is funding space tourism development about "playboy dilettantes" or the creation of a new industry for America in the 21st century.