To infinity and beyond

THE TREMENDOUSLY successful Global Travel and Tourism Summit at the Madinat Jumeirah concluded on Tuesday with a great deal of discussion and business had by all.

By David Light (Contributor)

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Published: Sun 27 Apr 2008, 12:44 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 2:45 PM

One of the key delegates was Eric Anderson, President and CEO of Space Adventures, a company which brings the final frontier of tourism to the general public. Space Adventures is the first and only company to have sent privately funded passengers to space. The company has fulfilled the dreams of five individuals who travelled to the International Space Station for each of their missions. Previous clients have included Charles Simonyi, creator of Microsoft word and Excel and the next client to launch is famed game developer Richard Garriott.

‘Space tourism is the catalyst’

Mr. Anderson took the time to speak with City Times about his company and what it means to world tourism. “I got into this venture because I’ve always wanted to go to space myself,” he told us. “I believe very strongly that the future of space exploration is critical for humanity. Space is everything but earth. We are a little tiny planet; our population is growing, we use more and more resources so we need to expand. Space will, in the future, become a requirement in terms of ensuring humanity’s continued quality of life. Space tourism is the catalyst.”

Eric Anderson went on to say about his company, “We’re really not a space tourism company. What we offer is private space flight. Our clients essentially become astronauts and take part in space missions. There is a minimum of three weeks training so they can learn to live on board the space station for a short period of time. We also offer zero gravity flights in a modified Boeing 727 but Space Adventures is the only company that offers full orbital flights in a shuttle to a permanent destination. “

Search for the first Emirati astronaut

Mr. Anderson continued to state, “We’ve had five clients so far and turned over a good amount of revenue, so there is a market for this kind of travel. We offer a full experience rather than the sub-orbital “edge of space” flight that other entrepreneurs are offering. We’re here in Dubai because we are looking for the first Emirati astronaut. We’ve had the first African, a gentleman from South Africa and the first male and female space tourist but we are looking for an Emirati for a mission in 2009. It costs $35 million so it is not cheap but we think there is an interest. The flight is leaving this time next year so whoever is on board will have a great time but we are hoping someone from this region might like the chance. We’re looking for expressions of interest at this point. The flight includes a launch from Kazakhstan, a stay on the station for ten days and then a return to Earth having made history as the first Emirati in space.”

Environmental concerns

In response to critics on environmental issues Eric replied, “We have a small number of flights. One space launch might have the same carbon emissions as one flight in a jet. But much more importantly opening up space is critical to the protection of the earth. In the long run we are going to need the resources of space. Those that argue against space exploration could be compared to those critics of Columbus back in the 1400s. It’s now a necessary part of humanity’s expansion.”

It is clear to see that Mr. Anderson not only wishes to give people the experience of going into space for a holiday but also wishes his company might kick-start further space exploration for the good of future generations here on earth. If you want to know more about the flight launching in 2009 and have a spare $35 million check out www.spaceadventures.com. However, I think most of us will be waiting for Easyjet to open up the Luton-Sea of Tranquillity route before we start asking the local sports shop whether they stock lunar boots.



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