Space tourists

Readers' Views No 240/241, December 2003
OECD Observer

I do not share your pessimistic view of space tourism (“Unhappy Holidays” in OECD Observer No. 237, May 2003). In fact, space tourism is already happening and will slowly but steadily grow into the largest off-world business.

Many people wish to experience zero gravity and a life-changing voyage into Earth orbit affords them the perfect opportunity, while allowing them to take in the spectacular view of the Earth and stars.

Space tourism is not only beneficial to commercial enterprises; it also helps subsidise government space expenditures.The US$30+ million the Russian Space Agency received from Dennis Tito and Mark Shuttleworth provided salaries for hundreds of engineers and technicians who maintain their vehicles and facilities.

No tax dollars are required to support these ventures; the revenues created will not only pay for the activity, they will create profits that can be cycled back into the industry, spurring innovation and cost reductions which will increase the size of the market.

Though space tourism currently is not accessible to everyone, it has only begun. With hard work from determined people, space tourism will evolve into a powerhouse sector. But, at the end of the day, if you don’t want to come along for the ride, that just leaves another ticket for me.

—John Spencer, President, Space Tourism Society

©OECD Observer No 240/241, December 2003

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