Saturday, 29 September 2007

Holidays to space gain momentum


September 2007
Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: With space tourism being dubbed as the most lucrative travel industry of the future, space scientists, astrophysicists and astrobiologists are busy exploring the ways and means of colonising the moon and the Earth̢۪s neighbouring planet, Mars.
Though establishing human colonies on them may take at least three to four decades, travel to outer space has become a reality. The next 10 years are going to witness a major boom in space tourism. Space experts from across the globe including the USA's National Aeronautics and Space Administration, European Union's European Space Agency and India's Indian National Space Research Organisation, currently attending the 58th International Astronautical Congress in Hyderabad, are deliberating theoretically what steps they should take to ensure a comfortable space tourism project.
They are also discussing the feasibility of establishing human colonies on the moon and Mars.
Space scientists are enthusiastic about space tourism to outer space, but are divided over the human tour packages to natural satellites and planets. This is because scientists do not know the short or long term effects of the moon or Mars̢۪ atmosphere on human beings. Sub-orbital vehicles and orbital cities are being planned to boost space tourism to outer space by 2020. Space tourism, though a recent phenomenon, is fast catching up among private individuals, who can afford the journey. The cost is highly prohibitive, about $30 million for a week-long stay in space.
The ongoing Astronautical Congress is also thinking of measures to reduce the price so that more people could avail of the facility. Some scientists foresee a reduction in the overall fares by at least 10 per cent in the next two decades.
Presently, only the Russian Space Agency is offering space tourism packages for the general public. Russia takes enthusiastic space tourists to the international space station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft. It is the thrilling experience that has attracted at least half a dozen civilians to venture into this new tourism package.
Since the package is limited to the Russian Space Agency, one has to wait for at least two years after purchasing the "ticket". Flights are already reserved for the next two years. Tickets are now available for 2010.

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