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Wednesday, 1 May, 2002, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Would you pay to go into space?
The world's second space tourist, South African dotcom millionaire Mark Shuttleworth, has blasted off into orbit.
He has reportedly paid £14m for a 10-day trip to the International Space Station.
Unlike his predecessor, Dennis Tito, who was the first to pay to go into space, Mark Shuttleworth prefers to be called a researcher and says that his mission is to explore new ways of treating AIDS.
The queue for the next tourist into space after the South African is already forming.
Twenty-three-year-old Lance Bass of the pop group 'N Sync has declared his interest. So too, has Lori Garver, a 40-year-old former Nasa official who is seeking sponsors to cover the cost of the trip.
Would you pay to go into space? Should space travel be left to professionals?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Of course I would go into space! To see
our world from that perspective would be
incredible. I wish it was cheaper.
If it was I'd be up there in an instant.
I would love to go into space and take my mother-in-law provided she would pay her own fare back. She's broke!
Jane Fletcher, Jersey
This man is not obliged to give any other human being on this planet any of his fortune! It's his, and then, 14M is not a huge amount in the grand scheme of things. All these people saying they would feed the hungry and home the homeless, if they had 14M I doubt very much they would be that generous! It all comes down to one thing, you can easily donate someone else's fortune - your own would be a little harder to part with.
Within 20 years I predict that space travel will be an exclusive adventure for the middleclass.
What sin is there if Mr. Shuttleworth considers it worthy to shuttle into space using his own money? I see nothing wrong about it! Every man has a dream, and, according to the BBC Mr. Shuttleworth says it has always been his dream to go into space. After all he wants to be called a researcher as his mission is to explore new ways of treating Aids. We Africans should concern ourselves about how our leaders utilize state funds, and not about how individuals spend their hard-earn money. Let's give Mr. Shuttleworth a chance.
Richard Hawley, UK
To orbit our planet would be the ultimate experience, and is something I have fantasised about for many years. And it's not just about the view out of the window, space exploration is a crucial part of human evolution and space tourism an important part of that. So, yes, I want to go!
The worst thing one can do is begrudge someone of their good fortune. Shuttleworth has done his time, worked late, said 'no' to going to the pub with his mates and it paid off. He made lots of money and he is spending it as he pleases. At the end of the day, the kind of cash he's throwing around - while being more than your average person might earn in their life - is considerably less than say, the salaries of Royals, interest earned in Swiss banks by The Presidents' Men, the value of diamonds that are traded illegally etc.
Tom, Liverpool, UK
I often daydream about going into space. If I had the resources to pay that sort of money I would definitely be booking my flight! I don't understand these people who are on their high horse putting this man down. All I have to say to them is: open up your horizons!
Well of course I'd love to go myself. But I'm not sure that 'space tourism' is a responsible activity for any space agency. Space flight is very dangerous and expensive. Agencies must have a good productive reason to justify the risk and cost of sending anyone into space.
Would I pay to blast-off into orbit? Absolutley! In fact, I'm not entirely sure that i would need millions of dollars to do it! A little research and some cooperation with friends and family has shown that it can be done on a private scale....watch for me!
Vijay K Vijayaratnam, United Kingdom
I think there is no big difference between 7 miles in an aircraft and 200 miles in the so-called space. The Moon and further is the destination of desire. But it's not on the menu at the moment.
Mark's USD20m, if given to South Africa's population, would result in 50US cents per head. It would hardly make a difference. Judging by the storm of envy it has generated, I would guess that he did the right thing. The socialist government of South Africa is spending over USD 10 BILLION on ARMS. Why should Mark be expected to donate after tax money to the masses when even a government elected by the very same masses would rather spend taxpayer's money buying guns than feeding the starving and dying? Go figure!
I'd go if I had the money - and this man clearly does. Besides, he already does a load of charitable work. And as for environmental concerns - well, stop me if I'm wrong, but isn't the main component of rocket fuel hydrogen, which is clean-burning and creates no environmental damage?
Setting aside the environmental issues and the shear waste of £14m, I can think of a few people I would like to send into space. How soon they came back is another matter.
Not personally, but if anyone is collecting for Tony Blair's one way ticket, then count me in for a tenner towards it!
It really disappoints me to read people saying "spend the money re-habilitating drug users" or to "feed starving people". If people like you were the majority then we would still be heating our food over open fires. If I had that kind of money I would be up there like a shot. I can't imagine anything more spectacular than looking at earth from space - what a sight! As for all you other people who are so against scientific advances and pushing the envelope - I pity you, you must have really small lives.
Seems like a waste of money to me. Just imagine how many lives you could influence in a positive manner with £14 million. It must be the height of self indulgence, although if he were to spend in excess of that in worthwhile causes, it would be more palatable.
I think it is wonderful what Mark Shuttleworth has done. I also think that anyone who has criticised him is a fool, they obviously do not have the money to do things like space travel. The people that have a go at Mr Shuttleworth about spending it on something more worth while like droughts, famine, poverty etc are idiots, if they knew anything about him they would understand he has set up charities with his money to research Aids and other disastrous events - at least he is treating himself with HIS cash! Good on you Mark.
If space tourism helps fund projects which could eventually lead to our moving polluting heavy industry onto the moon, or energy generating stations that we could use to create hydrogen to fuel our non-polluting vehicles then yes it's an excellent idea.
Would I pay £14m for a trip into space? Too right I would! I can't believe the ignorance of some people, the large amount of money spent on the space programme is being very well spent indeed considering all the scientific advances it has given us including new medicines and ways of reducing pollution. All we now have to do is implement these new technologies better than we are now
I hope he has a nice time up there. You can't take this money with you when you finally go. At least if you are a few miles off the planet burning it up, the tax man won't get it. All those people that moan about saving the planet and what good the money could be put to, do you really believe that any amount of money will stop criminal and tragic events worldwide? Money is the root of all evil. Why not spend it on enjoyment and stop living an impossible dream. There will always be rich and poor people, healthy and sick people, that's why we have governments and economics. It's never going to change in our lifetime. Do whatever makes you happy.
Space IS the final frontier! I'd love to go into space but not just to vacation. But to work, play, maybe even live there. Just recently there was a lottery with a cash prize of $300 million dollars. How about a lottery to go into space? I'd pay as much as I could for that chance. The lucky winner gets the trip of a life time for say $20 million and the Space agencies get $280 million for exploration. Sounds like a deal to me.
What are we waiting for? As far as being safe, riding in a car isn't safe but millions do it daily. Little has ever been gained without taking risks. If America's forefathers from Europe hadn't taking risk, there would be no America as we know it today. Let those who want to, go and those that don't can stay home.
Of course I would go given half a chance, and so - if they were honest - would most other people. The cost is minor compared to the size of his fortune, and people without money are always quick to condemn the way those with money choose to spend it. What would I pay? Well, the Russians are welcome to my ITV Digital box - for research purposes!
I guess my claustrophobia, vertigo and travel sickness would rule me out. But I respect Mr Shuttleworth's right to pay to go into space, and congratulate him on his courage!
Glenn Knowles, USA
I wouldn't even pay £14 never mind £14m. I wouldn't mind going up into space, but what can you do up there? You can't exactly go for a walk. If it's the thrill your looking for the amusement park has things like that for less than the £14m and after your done you can talk a walk in the park.
I can think of a number of people I'd love to hand a one way ticket to the moon!
Going up would be sweet. But I'd rather save to explore planet earth first.
Yes, yes, yes, I've already started saving.
And to the people who think it's too much pollution, these space ships are going to be going up anyway, so one more passenger hardly makes any difference. And just look at the amount of pollution caused by big industries all around the world.
With this money Mark could bring a smile to the thousands of his countrymen suffering from AIDS.
However it is his money not mine.
I am still trying for my first million. I wouldn't spend $20m for this holiday.
I think space travel and space tourism are one of the most important challenges of humankind. At present bad environmental figures will be improved by better technology, I am sure. To extend distances of travel destinations always was the aim of people for thousands of years. Thus space tourism will have a great and prosperous future. I would like to fly too if I had the opportunity.
Michael Barker, Finland
Yes I would pay - but as a diabetic for over 30 years I suspect that I would fail the medical. I could of course give my body for research into diabetes. This could be deemed to be worthwhile - perhaps we would find a cure - not for me but for the millions of diabetics the world over.
I couldn't go into space for style reasons: no real bathroom as such - just a catheter, no deodorant, no outfit change, probably awful Russian TV, no PS2, the list is not exhaustive. On the other hand, I would marvel at the majesty and grandeur of the view, but I wouldn't be too keen on the weirdy food. No singing astronauts please.
I would love to go to space and assist in the development of the next great frontier.
Just to remind everyone, not every launch is successful, so who'll be the one that pays £14m to be turned into a cinder?
Only history will really tell the truth of the impact of space tourism. But I guess we will look back on many small steps for a man, Gagarin, Armstrong and most likely Tito in that he has changed our perception of space.
I would jump at the chance, assuming I had $20m to burn. If it could be done a bit more within my finances, then I would be first in line for a trip up. Probably the best scenic view one could ever get.
While it's his money, and I guess he can do what he likes with it, I can't help thinking of the better uses that $14m could be put to.
There is a severe drought in the south of Africa at the moment. How many people would £14m save from starvation?
How much would £14m knock off the NHS waiting lists?
How much more advanced would AIDS research be if Mr Shuttleworth put his £14m into that?
How many acres of rainforest would £14m save?
How many homeless would it house?
Would I pay to go into space? I actually think the right question should be the other way around! Would you go to space if they paid you? When the ticket costs £14m (!!) and there is practically no guarantee for return, I'm sorry, but I don't think so...
Steve Groulx, Maine, USA
For all those "Space travel is wrong" moaners: without space travel, you wouldn't have solar cells; or fuel cells; or micro-computers; or instantaneous communication; or the ability to predict the weather; or modern lightweight materials.
I recall the other month that a company in Russia is producing a two-person shuttle which will take people out to space for about five minutes and then return them...all for £150k!
I think I would like a little more than five minutes in space but what an experience!
You can't take the money with you and if I had £14m to blow I'd be on my way ASAP!
If the six numbers on this lottery ticket come up this weekend, I'll be next on the list!
Jay Raspin, UK
My answer is no. Certainly, he owns the money and he can spend on anything he likes. However, too many people are poor and those rich people should help them. But most of them just turn their heads and their eyes are blind. Do not forget, the popularity of communism in the 20th century results from the selfishness amid most rich people.
Bit pricey! And what is there to do up there, except float around? There are machines on earth that allow you to do that.
I say spend more money detaining and rehabilitating drug users to prevent the spread of drug use and AIDS, here on earth, before we start spending billions floating people a few miles up. AIDS killed three million people in 2001. Drug use is endemic on our streets. Our kids are dying here right now, and our politicians are spending our money to build a holiday camp in the sky. It's an outrage.
I think that the entire space programme is a huge waste of money that could be better spent taking care of people on our planet. Can you imagine how many people 14 million pounds would feed?
I think that the entire space program is a huge waste of money that could be better spent taking care of people on our planet. Can you imagine how many people £14m would feed?
Alasdair, London, UK
Not for a long stay I wouldn't! Bone and muscle wasting, constant travel sickness and bombardment with radiation does not appeal to me. Let's leave it to the highly-trained astronauts, who do a magnificent job in the most hostile environment.
People talk about the "good" that will come from the exploration of space and space tourism. How many children could be vaccinated against disease, or how many people could be given clean water supplies for the price of one space tourist's ego trip?
Perhaps, if I had the budget for it. But wouldn't it be nicer if we all contributed towards the building of a B-Ark - and the propaganda which would convince certain elements of our society to get on it?
I'd love to go into space, but I believe that if I had the money I would send our so-called world leaders on a trip into orbit. Just so they can see just how insignificant they are, and that countries' borders are only in people's minds. Maybe after the trip they might start feeling just a bit more humble, realising that there is a big old world out there and it's not just their country that matters.
You bet I would go! If people want to go up there, then it will generate the money and technology to push us forward. Space travel will only become commonplace when it is as easy as using your car. It will start off being for the rich only, but then, so was flying abroad for a break not that long ago!
Without funding being restricted to space agencies and governments, the whole thing will take off.
I would without hesitation, although with my myopia, I doubt that I would make the physical. Even if I did, I doubt that I would be able to find £14m. However, the X-prize competition promises to greatly reduce the cost of orbital flights, so the time may be closer than you think. I would love to see the whole world roll underneath you every 90 minutes, and see the stars with unprecedented brilliance.
People whine about exporting our problems and wasting money but they forget that the answers might lie out amongst the stars.
Will Lever, UK
Will Lever needs to rearrange his sense of morals. That attitude, if actually genuine, would have left us in a world without the steam engine, still ruled by bullying kings.
I would go without hesitation and pay for Mr Lever to come too, the experience may lighten him up a little.
The idea of a market for space tourism is one that our governments should grasp before companies have the ability and funds to undertake such adventures. Undoubtedly, it would only be a select few that could afford to become space tourists. Is this any different to the select few in the earlier part of last century who could afford worldwide travel?
I think some of you must have seen too many Hollywood space movies, otherwise I can't explain some people's excitement to set off for a trip where no guarantees can be given for a safe return! It's not a... bus trip, you know, and perhaps we should wait and see first that the guy returns safe, before we start discussing about ''space trips'' and stuff we actually know nothing about!
Only if I got to wave through the hole in the ozone layer that my launch made.
Douglas Murray, when a plane flies through a cloud, does it leave a plane shaped hole? Why do you think this would damage the ozone layer?
Space tourism is becoming so common. If I was an employee of this industry, would I be allowed to travel there and have to pay? How much?
Chris B, England
I would love to go into space... but I couldn't live with myself if it involved the self-indulgent blowing of £14m!
As a South African, I am so proud of Mark! He worked long and hard for what he has achieved. So much for "The sky's the limit."
Would I pay £14m to see earth from God's perspective? Of course! What an unbelievable opportunity!
I'd jump at the chance to see the earth from space, who wouldn't! But it's never going to happen for me, and millions like me. We can all dream though can't we?
It must be a truly humbling experience to view our earth from space. I wonder how you come to terms with what you have seen though once you return to earth?
I agree with Jon's statement about viewing earth from space, except that sooner or later will the experience give way to a sense of blase familiarity, reducing space travel to week in Ibiza? Would the ultimate experience be wasted on the Pop Idol generation?
This is an excellent way to generate both money and interest for the exploration of space. Our future lies in the stars and if I had the money I'd sign up tomorrow.
Space is not the sole domain of governments. If a private individual can afford the trip, then by all means. You'd think with all the interest, governments would wake up to the idea of space-tourism and cash in on it.
Of course! The space race is over...tourism is the next frontier!
Mattijs Vankersschaever, Belgium
If you can afford it why not? No doubt a lot of people would consider this wasted money, or unfair because poor people cant do it.. The word "jealous" springs to mind. Money can make you happy.
There are two parts in this question. The easier one is who would like to participate. I think we can find millions who would be willing to do so. The most difficult part is who can afford those millions. To be fair to all, there should be a draw of lots or the world will only be tilting towards capitalist ideas, a detrimental factor to the state of affairs in which we find our world today.
I wouldn't hesitate to go. The thought of having an opportunity to see something that so many people will never see, is too good to miss. I imagine a trip like that would open your mind to the fact that we are so small and selfish, yet there is a whole world out there.
If space tourism can be done safely, then why not? I'd be on the first space shuttle tomorrow if it didn't cost millions! Perhaps a budget airline like Go or Easyjet will do a cheap flight to the moon soon!
Since I was a little boy I have dreamed about going into space. Who wouldn't want to go? I just don't have the spare change needed at the moment however. Two hundred lucky dip lottery tickets please!
Sure I'd love to go into space - I wouldn't pay £14m but I would love to go.
Definitely if I had the money. Now that NASA has lost its hold on the rights to space, the Russians are doing what they do best, which is lead the space race, and along with the various competitions to get people in space for cheap, I think space tourism prices will come down over the next 50 or so years
25 Apr 02 | Sci/Tech
Africa's first space tourist lifts off
20 Apr 00 | Africa
South Africa's dot.com millionaire
25 Apr 02 | Forum
Mark Shuttleworth answered your questions
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