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Tuesday, 1 May, 2001, 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK
Space tourism: Will it catch on?

US businessman Dennis Tito has become the world's first space tourist.

Mr Tito blasted off on a 10-day trip to the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday and has paid Russian space chiefs a reported $20m (14m) for the privilege.

The flight is a dream come true for the Californian financier, who has been trying to join the elite club of space travellers for decades.

Many believe that this is just the beginning of space tourism and plans are in place for huge "luxury cruisers" which will carry up to 500 tourists into space for prices starting at "just" $100,000.

Are you interested? Will travelling to the outer limits catch on? Or is it sunshine and sand for you? HAVE YOUR SAY

Yet another case of Just Because It Can Be Done, It Should Be Done. Well, so many beautiful places on the planet's surface have been visually and culturally ruined by all the tatty, grasping paraphernalia of commercial tourism, so I suppose it's only a matter of time before the same fate befalls "the final frontier."
Simon Feegrade, England

Since the entire space program (here in America) was built on the backs of the American taxpayer, I'd like to see an increase in space tourism. That way, we could all be refunded our share for this 'commercial' venture. I don't pay taxes to support other 'private' facilities for the rich and famous (other than Congress of course). By all means, let's use more tax dollars to find diversions to spice up the droll and boring lives of the well-to-do!
Paul A. Lux, Florida, USA

Don't think I'd bother really. There are still far to many interesting and beautiful places ON Earth to see before I'd want to spend lots of money to go up into space
Mike, UK

The idea that this has just broken open a huge rush into space by tourists is kind of silly. I don't think we need worry about camera-clad tour groups in Hawaiian shirts dumping empty oxygen canisters all over Tranquility Base. The cost is not going to go down anytime soon. "Space Tourism" will be a novel way to separate the extremely wealthy from their money, while giving them the ride of their lives. If they can help defray the huge costs of this research, and are willing to meet the training and physical requirements, I say let them subsidise it!
Frank Bailey, USA

It should be available for everyone and not just for the rich and famous

Michael Pala, UK
I would very much like to go into space. When space tourism does become reality, it should be available for everyone and not just for the rich and famous.
Michael Pala, UK

If I could afford it, I would love to see our beautiful earth from space. After saving for a charter supersonic flight on Concorde for three years, I felt privileged to have done that, and got so close to space. Concorde was a wonderful experience, but space would be the next logical and wonderful step. It also makes you appreciate what a precious earth we are lucky enough to live on.
Phil W, UK in USA

Congratulations, Mr. Tito, on bucking the system and putting this whole space adventure into perspective. I entirely agree with the Russians, it's about time NASA looked at what they have to offer and offered it to the public. For sure it's not affordable for everyone, but then they don't have the capacity to take a whole lot of people up there at once. Mr. Tito and our Russian space colleagues are to be congratulated!
Ash, USA

I applaud Mr Tito for his perseverance, but I hope that mass space tourism is postponed until a vastly less polluting method of reaching orbit is developed.
J Grimston, U.K.

I, like Mr Tito, share the same dream since childhood, and I would love to make such a trip. After 50 years of space programmes reserved exclusively to astronauts, I think it's time for ordinary people (like me) to have a go too.
A Parks, England

If I had $20m I'd be standing in line, right behind him

Ian Stimson
To see all of Earth in one view, and 1000 times the stars visible from its surface, what price can you put on that? Suffice to say, I'd pay it if I could, gladly. Dennis Tito has made real what only a few years ago was a dream for anyone with a long view. If I had $20m I'd be standing in line, right behind him.
Ian Stimson, UK

Can anybody think of anything more boring than floating around in confined space, frightened to touch anything in case you break it? Fair enough, the take-off would be fun - as would the landing - but come on... get a life. Tito is probably bored to death and already writing his book to pass the time. Also, let's focus on Earth before we go further afield in the cosmos looking for other planets to destroy.
Andy Bennett, Oxford, England

Never mind popping up for a holiday - the way we're treating our own planet, soon space will be the only place open for us!
Derick, Ireland

What's the point in travelling away from everything and everyone into the absolute void emptiness of timeless space?
Alex Christakis, Greece

Space exploration has not made the jump into "real life"

Paul Drinkwater, UK
Expansion and exploration beyond our own planet should be a goal for all humankind. Space exploration has not made the jump into "real life". It's specialist and out of reach. This tourist thing seems to have generated more interest in space than I can remember. It's brought it back into the realm of ordinary people - very wealthy people true, but not scientists or military pilots with years of training and that seems very positive to me. We are nearing the technological point where "cheap" launch vehicles are attainable. If the potential funding available from the leisure market can pull that day forward, all the better.
Paul Drinkwater, UK

I would be interested in seeing some research into the environmental costs of each launch into space. I guess that the main damage is to the atmosphere, especially the upper atmosphere. I did once see a comparison of one jet liner producing the equivalent damage of 4000 badly tuned older cars. The upper layers of the atmosphere are especially sensitive to pollution, from dumping re-entry vehicles too.
David Broatch, New Zealand

It's a great idea. I'd like to think that fifty years from now, taking a 'vacation' into space will be as common and harmless as taking one at a typical seaside resort. I'd relish the opportunity to launch into space. It must be a fantastic sight. I envy Mr Tito and I hope he enjoys his trip.
Mick Deal, UK

Dennis Tito has proved that space is for all humanity

John McVey, Scotland
I think in many ways this is more important for ordinary humans than the first lunar walk of Neil Armstrong. This really does open up a whole new frontier to humanity, whereas previous access to space was merely at the discretion of government agencies. As an aside, I think politicians and leaders of polluting industries should be sent into space, just so they can see the beauty of the planet they're destroying. One thing Dennis Tito has proved is that space is for all humanity, not just the military!
John McVey, Edinburgh, Scotland

I would only go into space if they did air-miles.
D. John, UK

Commercial aviation didn't exactly start out as low-cost, low-risk. If I had that kind of money to burn and my family were pleased to be rid of me, I would be queuing up for the ride on that booster too. I would be less happy about the shuttle though. Reliability needs simplicity and the shuttle is a bit too advanced to be reliable for this potential space-tourist.
Hugh Kennedy, Germany

When Tito returns to Earth, everybody dress up in ape suits. Pass it on!
Brian Mccaul, Ireland, Planet Earth

His flight - the first tourist space flight - is the beginning of the era. And Russians made it possible. Just as the first satellite, the first man in the space (Gagarin), the first man stepping out of a spaceship into the open (Leonov), the longest stay in a spaceship. We did all of it. Even after sinking the Mir (which has more than paid off for itself by contributing to the mankind's knowledge), Russia's still setting milestones in the opening up of space. I personally can hardly stand sea ships, let alone spaceships... so all the more thumbs up for Tito and the Russian Space Agency.
Vova, Russia

Nice if you can afford it. Just goes to show the gap between haves and have-nots isn't getting any smaller.

There is nothing out there except.... Space!

Joseph, UK
What is the big deal? There is nothing out there except.... well "Space!" Unless there is something like a five star hotel on the moon instead of a rather tatty lump of metal floating in our outer atmosphere, I would prefer to buy myself a private jet and a luxury yacht and spend the rest of my life travelling this beautiful planet (instead of a couple of days in a vacuum!).
Joseph, UK

I am interested in astronomy, but at the moment I would rather stay on the blue planet and look at the heavens. And the cost involved outweighs my interest in astronomy.
Manjit Singh, England

I would travel to space if I could afford it

John Ngassa, Britain
I have always liked stories about space, science and astronomy. Seeing a civilian-tourist go to the ISS is a big step forward for humankind. If the Americans are not in favour I think the Russians should encourage it. I am so pleased this is happening and I would travel to space if I could afford it.
John Ngassa, Britain

They would have to pay ME to set foot in a space ship. And they would then have to drag me screaming and kicking into the wretched thing. Love Star Wars, love Star Trek: don't need or desire the real experience.
Jane Green, English in Italy

I found NASA objections to Dennis Tito's trip a bit ironical. Christa McAuliffe who was a school teacher with a degree in history, was selected by NASA for the ill-fated Challenger trip in 1986. Surely Dennis Tito with his background as rocket scientist who has in fact worked for NASA is no less qualified for the trip.
Surodeep Roy, India

Money makes the world and the universe go around apparently
Arthur, New Zealand

A new frontier will be opened up

Ed Butcher, Wales
The reason that manned space exploration has stagnated in recent years is the lack of a cheap, reliable, and reusable launcher. The Americans don't seem to be seriously interested in the project, and the Russians can't afford that kind of investment. I think that the promise of the huge profits possible from space tourism could be the one thing to generate the necessary investment. Once cheaper ways to get cargo and crews into orbit are available, a new frontier will be opened up, that in my opinion will have huge potential benefits to mankind.
Ed Butcher, Wales

Tourism is the biggest industry on the planet, why shouldn't it be the biggest one off it?
Mo Ahad, UK

I'd love the chance to go into space and I expect that in the years to come it will become more popular and affordable. In a way it's a bit like any new opportunity; initially for the filthy rich then gradually becoming more accessible. I just hope it happens soon.
Shargil, UK

I think it will pay off for Tito. Not only does he get a great experience but when he gets back he will be a minor celebrity. By writing a book, doing media interviews and speeches he should be able to recoup a reasonable amount of his outlay. As for me, I've offered the wife a place on the Mars mission!
Charles, UK

I'm sure the appeal of space tourism has significantly decreased since astronauts from the MIR space station reported that they spent months in a hot, humid atmosphere that smelt of fungus and dirty socks

Alice, Australia
Will tourists be taking their litter home with them or will space agencies be providing waste bins?
Jonathan Farber, UK

I'm sure the appeal of space tourism has significantly decreased since astronauts from the MIR space station reported that they spent months in a hot, humid atmosphere that smelt of fungus and dirty socks.
Alice, Australia

Where can I sign up?......
Tony Pigram, UK

Tito's trip will be seen as a watershed in opening up space flight to the masses. I find significant irony in his trip, as this huge first step in commercial space tourism was brought to us by a country without a strong history of free enterprise. Russia has added another first to add to its list of impressive space accomplishments. One has to applaud their pragmatism and vision. A successful mission will not only have other tourists lining up at their door step, but will provide a significant positive boost for both their commercial launches and their international credibility. The US missed a huge opportunity here, I believe thanks in part are due to our increasingly litigious and therefore risk-averse culture
J E Douglas, USA

Up until now commercial activity in space has largely been confined to launching satellites. Space tourism further extends the scope of human endeavour beyond our world, and provided that it's carried out with proper regard for safety I think it can only be a good thing.
Bob Mottram, UK

I wouldn't mind a go at it as soon as they sort out how to make space commodes work.
Walt O'Brien, USA

Of course I'd go. After decades of waiting for mankind to get back to the Moon, explore Mars etc, it has become increasingly obvious that there is a major problem with the way 'space exploration' is being run. Governments have neither the politcal will nor the money - let alone the vision - to get the job done. They think in 4-5 year time frames and put re-election before the greater good.

I say let's open the programmes up to private industry and a first step towards that has got to be demonstrating profitability whether it comes from asteroid mining or tourism who cares. Good luck Tito, you've taken a step forward for us all.
Tony Swiecicki, Indonesia

Tito had a dream, and he made it come true. I admire that

Zoltan Bartalis, Canada/Sweden
Let's not forget Mr Tito is a former rocket scientist, received extensive training by the Russians and gives a helping hand during the Soyuz mission - so his flight is not completely a passive joyride. He had a dream, and he made it come true. I admire that. For being able to say that I actively participated in the building of the International Space Station as an astronaut, I would pay that kind of money.
Zoltan Bartalis, Canada/Sweden

I think rich people paying to get into space is a great thing. Investors who fund (or would fund) space tourism ventures will see there really are people willing to shell out the loot to get there, and hopefully a real space tourism industry could happen.

For man, who is always destined to experience wonderful things, space is simply a dreaming destination. By his nature, he should be fascinated by the thought of soaring in space. But as it is a very expensive journey, one has to be either a Gagarin or a Tito to secure that privilege. For one should be a space scientist or a millionaire to smell any chance of it. An ordinary tourist of this era can imagine being there only if scientists can discover a cheap blasting machine, a sort of a flying saucer.
Rajan Kafle, Nepal

Space is the final frontier and who would not want to play Star Trek? There is bad news, however, as it promises to be the most unearthly experience at the same time it is also the most expensive.

I think space tourism should be discouraged and instead, tourism of third world countries should be encouraged who are desperate for every bit of cash that may come their way.
Osman Aftab, Pakistan

As for the common people, I don't expect any reasonable price (if you consider $100,000 reasonable) to be attainable in any less than 20 years. As for me, I know I can wait 20 years...

Why not part mega-rich people from their money and make this industry blossom for the benefit of the whole mankind??

PL, Finland
Nasa is chronically cash-strapped, Russian space exploration is on a shoestring budget, the whole concept of exploring space is almost at a standstill due to lack of funding. So why not part mega-rich people from their money and make this industry blossom for the benefit of the whole mankind??
PL, Finland

I agree that space-tourism is a matter of time. But we can't refuse now. Tito's money is vitally important for Russian space projects. Everybody knows that our science of space stations is the best, but we have no money to develop. If we get the money we need, we'll help our planet and international flights.
Dmitry, Russia

I wouldn't want limited space-related resources going to give the rich and famous an ego-trip around the world. Until we can fly a shuttle to the Moon or Mars and have the dome space to open up a Hilton, let's keep space science and exploration based. And if a rich person still wants to go? Than send your CV to Nasa.
Stephen Kenney, USA

Of course space travel will catch on! I am not particularly interested, but there are many people who have been obsessed with space from an early age. As soon as it is affordable and perhaps even before it is really safe, there will be thousands queuing up to see space close up.
Emma T, Australia

If Tito can afford to subsidise the Russians then let him. People who spend money drive economies, people who hoard their cash just slow down progress.
R Myers, Australia

Does anyone really believe this is a bad thing?

Dave Thomas, UK
Yes. We must expand our horizons and Mr Tito's example should be one to follow, He has fulfilled his dream whilst assisting the Russians with their commitment to the ISS. Does anyone really believe this is a bad thing?
Dave Thomas, UK

This is one of the ways to raise money to increase space research and exploration. It is becoming more and more expensive to continue space exploration. In the beginning only Russia and US could do it, now in the case of the Space Station there are many countries involved.

Many very rich people are capable of paying such a high price and we should take this opportunity.
G Fazal, Canada

As an environmentalist AND an adventurer I am torn between the arguments for and against space tourism. I would definitely jump at the opportunity for space travel if I had it, but would hope that efficient technology is soon developed which alleviates the pollution and wastage produced by current launches. The theory is here now and will only be put into practice once mass-production brings down the costs. I'm eager and waiting!
Martin Mitchell, Australia

We have scarred this earth... now let us mess with space (we have, already)!! If I had the money, I would invest in salvaging what is left of our planet earth!
Bharath, India/USA

I think we should face it, it's a complete gimmick. What is there to see, apart from the Moon and Earth?

Ed Alexander, England
Mr Tito has obviously managed to make his own dreams come true. But I think we should face it, it's a complete gimmick. What is there to see, apart from the Moon and Earth? Two weeks stuck on a cruise liner in the Pacific would drive me insane, let alone a fortnight staring at blackness.

In the future, space travel will be something that people will do once, and once only. It will not be the near future either, because I don't think that most people can afford $20m. I believe that we should spend more time and money on researching how to exploit the natural resources of other planets.
Ed Alexander, England

Commercial space flight is dogged with a terrible safety record. Who would want to fly by aeroplane if 1 in 10 flights crashed? Or 1 in 100? Tito knows the risks and was prepared to take them for the novelty of it. I'll wait a few decades for the technology to prove itself before I buy my ticket...
Simon, USA

I can't see space tourism as a problem if it is properly dealt with. As in these (still) early stages of manned spaceflights, when one cannot blame space tourism being mass tourism, benefits are certainly worth the possible risks. During this short space-age history, I don't remember any organisation ever complaining about new possibilities to get more funds in the space programme, whether national or international.

And when tourists are well trained and prepared for the space flight, I believe they won't harm the scientific work done at the ISS. In fact, has anyone thought about having a scientific study on space tourism? Now there's a concept to study further.
Petteri Pyrro, Finland

I think the biggest mistake we make is in thinking that space tourism is somehow "good" for the human race. Space tourism means space colonisation, by autocratic kingdoms (companies).

There's staggering poverty, desolation, and aggression in the world already to deal with, why are we so excited about jumping out of our world? The metaphor of staring at the stars while living in the gutter comes to mind. Worst, we're not even concerned about cleaning the gutter.
Faris Kasim, Pakistan/USA

If it took every penny I made in my life to go into space, I wouldn't even hesitate. This isn't some great moralistic crusade that some in the forum would make it out to be. This is about going 5000 mph, and seeing the Earth and the heavens like few others ever get the chance to. Bon voyage Dennis Tito.
Chris McCoy, USA

That an American had to go to Russia with his millions to fulfil a capitalists' dream is a remarkable twist! Bravo!

Phil Harrison, Canada
Of course it will catch on. In 10 or 20 years it will be commonplace. What is really significant is that a former communist government has made a truly capitalist decision and created the first independent commercial human transaction in space. That an American had to go to Russia with his millions to fulfil a capitalists' dream is a remarkable twist! Bravo!
Phil Harrison, Canada

I like many others here think that space tourism is inevitable. But we are long way off even the $100,000 ticket type of package. There is still much to be done to make even low Earth orbit (LEO) tourism feasible. We need massive investment in LEO infrastructure with permanently manned space stations on a far grander scale than the present ISS.

It is however the right way to go. It would enable the development of spacecraft designed to be launched from such stations instead of being ground launched. They would be a more practicable solution for large man-rated payloads destined for deeper space. The Moon initially (this time to stay) and then to Mars and so on. All this will eventually include tourism but that is not the most important aspect of it.
Philip S Hall, UK

If I had the money I would love to go into space. I would think it a privilege to see the Earth from above. See other planets would be my idea of heaven. The techology of space travel is here and I belive we should (if we want) have access to the heavens.
Janet Roberts, England

It will only be a matter of time before this trend catches on. There is no denying that once Tito has set a precedent, others will want to follow suit. I would say given 50 years, space tourism will be as commonplace as another other forms of travelling. In fact, on reflecting, I would say this is just part and parcel of the advancement of the human civilisation. As such, I feel this event is worth commemorating.
Grace Ho How Lian, Bedok, Singapore

What's the alternative to letting people go into space? Do we really want some "anti-space police force" forcing people to stay on Earth. If we stay on Earth, we will run out of resources. If space tourism can advance the day when we can pull down resources from the moon and asteroids, let's welcome it. Earth is a cradle, not a prison!
Kevin Elliott, UK

It's all fun and games until somebody gets "space rage" and assaults the cabin crew. Where will you put down? Asteroid 2099B?
Simon Keiler, UK

I think that space should be reserved for the elite astronaut corp. You can't have tourists bumbling around on the ISS, wrecking good space science.
Paul Tisdale, UK

Currently, I don't think space tourism is a good idea. All Tito did was take advantage of the cash-strapped Russian Space Agency. But if they want to send him up there, and if they can do it, so be it. We can't stop him unless we point out to the Russians that in fact WE paid for THEIR part of the International Space Station, but we understandably don't want to cause a rift. Someday it will probably be somewhat affordable to travel to space, but for me, I haven't yet visited all the countries I would lke to.
Ryan Corcoran, Austin, TX, USA

May there be more extremely rich people putting money into space travel

Antony Shepherd, UK
If I had the money, I'd be there like a shot. Even if I spent the whole time feeling sick, it would still be the experience of a lifetime. Good luck and bon voyage to Dennis Tito, I say. May there be more extremely rich people putting money into space travel.
Antony Shepherd, UK

While I have to admit that going into space would be absolutely thrilling, I also feel that it is disgusting that people will spend any amount of money for a thrill, yet ignore the needs of their brothers. If the rich would only realize how thrilling it would be to take $20m dollars and do something about the children in an impoverished country who dig in piles of stinking garbage every day for something to eat. The smiles on the faces of the children would be worth far more than a few days in space. There would be no such horrible suffering on our beautiful planet if we would all just readjust what we consider valuable.
Jim V, USA

To be given the opportunity to go into space, albeit by having to fund it oneself, would be the ultimate 21st century thrill, giving one the same sense of feeling as the early pioneers must have felt in previous days whether it be in space or on land/sea.

Just imagine the feeling of exhileration of take-off, weightlessness, actually being there in space and the thrill of re-entry. One would certainly have been to the very extent of mankind's achievements and to the forefront of his potential destiny. Yes, I would definately go!!
Ian Davison, England

I would love to go into space, but I can't see how the pollution could be justified. If it's a regular thing - a true tourist destination, then the amount of fuel burned and pollutants released would just serve to increase the rate at which this beautiful blue jewel is destroyed.

If it served to educate the rich and powerful and moved them to stop polluting it, perhaps a limited environmental price would be acceptable in the short term.
Alistair M-S, UK

Ever more expensive and rare thrills to destroy the planet. Such tourists should pay in addition the same money again to the UN or some other competent international body for the alleviation of the misery caused by world pollution and global warming - on the basis the polluter should pay. Better still stay at home and learn to appreciate the miracle of our beautiful but fragile planet.
Will Lever, UK

Well, Mr Tito has bought his way into the history books, that's for sure! I can't see paying $100k just for "the view", though... as staggering as I'm sure it must be, I think I'd want a little bit more for my money.
Mark M Newdick, USA/UK

What about pollution? It may be nice to see the earth from space but it is extremely polluting. I have nothing against it as long as it is along with another space mission, but tourism just for tourism would be a scandal.
Gergey Pasztor, Germany

I don't think we will see major steps into space for all of the populace on earth for another good 30 years or so

Stuart Bell, Scotland
I think the issue of humans in space is a greater issue rather than space tourism. I personally don't agree with Tito going into space at this point as the current level of exploration into space by man is not yet up to a frequent tourism trade. As well as that, it seems that space tourism will just be for the rich and powerful for the moment. I don't think we will see major steps into space for all of the populace on earth for another good 30 years or so.
Stuart Bell, Scotland, UK

This is just the beginning of course. Surely we will see more and more people paying large sums to get this unforgettable space experience in few years time. Certainly I would like to take off to space if the price for it comes down to six figures.
Yoga, UK

Let's face it: it's the ultimate tourist trip to the ultimate destination. How can it not catch on? But in a world as chaotically disordered as ours, isn't it just so much ostentatious escapism? Let's get our house in order and then fulfil our fantasies.
Simon Cameron, UK

If space tourism becomes an affordable reality in my lifetime I know that I will sign up for it!

Tim Jones, UK
Surely it is the dream of most people to discover and experience something beyond this planet be that through religion or by travelling into space. I would jump at the chance to travel into orbit or perhaps even further, if it happens it will be popular as it will help people to see that this really is our 'Island Earth' part of a infinite universe. This however could be demoralising as we may realise we are a very small part of a great big universe. If space tourism becomes an affordable reality in my lifetime I know that I will sign up for it!
Tim Jones, UK

I would love to go into space, but I don't think I would be prepared to pay anywhere near 100,000 for it. And I defintely would not if that was only for a cramped space with 499 other people. Some big business should get it together and build a resort either a space station or a base on the moon. Now I might pay 100,000 for a week or two on the moon.

PS: When exactly is someone going to bother going back to the moon, it's the logical place to practice all our deep space exploration ideas and Mars landing schemes.
SD, England

No, who wants to spend 20 million bucks to sit on a big firework when you can spend fifty quid and go to Blackpool and ride the big dipper? Hmmm it may at that.
Phil Davies, UK

Yes, yes, and yes again. It would be the ultimate trip of our lifetime. But what would you do for kicks when you got back?
Nathan Hughes, England

People are worried about flying over 55,000m in the earth's atmosphere. How would they react to flying in outer space!
Maria Brown, England

If it does catch on, I hope it becomes affordable for at least some sizable percentage of the population by the time we begin to colonize, if that happens.

What better way to finally separate the rich from the poor (once again) than to allow wealthy industrialists to leave the Earth they've so gleefully polluted while the working classes have to stay on the "home planet" and deal with stinking air and poisoned water?

Looking more short term... It may be a good thing. Perhaps this sort of thing will help to fund space research, allowing governments to shift the funds to hungry poor folk everywhere.
A Hsiao, USA

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28 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
Space tourist blasts off
27 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
Profile: Tito the spaceman
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