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Space Transport News Special Edition:
Space Tourism:
A New Industry in the Making

Sponsored by the Royal Aeronautical Society
June 30, 2009, London, England


A special report for HobbySpace by Andrew Janes

View from 100km above Mojave
(All photo credits: Andrew Janes)
A model of the WhiteKnightTwo/SpaceShipTwo combo.


The Royal Aeronautics Society sponsored a one day conference on Space Tourism in London on June 30th, 2009. They described the meeting as follows:

This multi-disciplinary conference aims to bring together those who will contribute to making space tourism a reality to discuss the successful development of affordable space travel.

Following the success of the Royal Aeronautical Society?s inaugural Space Tourism conference in 2006, the Society will again provide a platform for those prominent leaders from the industry to outline the latest news of their ground-breaking projects. Subject experts will also be given an opportunity to present their opinions reviewing the challenges facing the industry today.

The first decade of this century has marked the advent of the age of the private space adventurer. In 2001 the American businessman Dennis Tito grabbed the world headlines when he became the first privately funded astronaut. In 2004 the public?s imagination was again captured by the inspirational flight of the Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne proving that affordable and widely accessible sub-orbital spaceflight was within reach. Since that time several organisations around the world have been striving to make this concept a reality by developing purpose-built commercial vehicles to satisfy the public?s desire to experience space travel. This has created a small, vibrant and global industry.

The conference will look at where the Space Tourism industry is today. It will consider the plans for the next few years; examine what is needed to realise affordable space travel; and address the industry?s hottest topics.

This conference is essential for those who are looking for the latest news on recent developments in this emerging industry. It is a unique opportunity to hear from a panel of experts; to interact with the leaders and innovators from the space tourism industry; and to develop a wide range of professional relationships.

Andrew Janes volunteered to attend the meeting as a representative of HobbySpace.com and he provided the notes given below on the presentations.


Resources

Space Transport News Posts


Notes by Andrew Janes

Has been a great day. There were so many good speakers. Was also cool to meet a number of people whose names I recognized from various New Space blogs/websites (Jeff Foust from The Space Review and Duncan Law-Green from Rocketeers.co.uk to name but two.)

Summary of proceedings:

Welcome - David Couzens (RAeS)

The conference opened with a quick "why we are here":

  • Adventure aspect - grew up with Dan Dare, Apollo 11 (amazing achievement considering done with slide-rule technology)
  • Talked about how to date less than 1000 people have been to space (I though it was less than 500?), and how many people aspire to go to space/want to go, therefore large market.
  • Listed main challenges to overcome: Technical/Procedural/Locations/Safety/Certification/etc.

 

Opening Address- John Loizou (VEGA)

Recapped previous conference held at RAE 2006. Had a big impact- media coverage, debates in Parliament.

Lot of changes in last 3 years - Technological (Cost in lives lost, however), World economy changed. Flexibility - key to success.

Need to be not just a rich man's fairground toy, other applications key to industry

 


Tom Shelly

Session 1: The Private Spaceflight revolution - Tom Shelly (Space Adventures)

Gave history of company:

  • Founded 1997 by travel experts, ex-astronauts, etc
  • Goal - open space for private citizens
  • $200 million of space services delivered so far, 7 people sent to ISS
  • Dennis Tito first person willing to pay for spaceflight
  • Charles Simonyi- first to go twice
  • Showed a video of their experiences (highlight- someone playing golf on the ISS!). Another person mentions moon trip they had planned a few years ago.
  • Asked who wants to go (almost all the audience raise their hands!)

Why is Space important? Listed usual reasons:

  1. Need space resources to continue our way of life - population continues to grow, resources declining, consumption increasing
  2. Earth/humanity subject to period catastrophes - asteroids/global warming
  3. Space applications vital to our lives on Earth - GPS/communications/weather forecasting
  4. Humans have an innate need to explore - desire for new experiences (moon landing pinnacle so far)
  5. Quote from Stephen Hawking- won’t survive if we don’t go to space

[More notes:]

  • Governments have [opened] the space frontier? (ha!)
  • How open for rest of us? How build on that foundation?
  • Quoted usual figures for launchers (shuttle $10.00kg/lb)
  • To usher in a ‘Golden Age’ need lower cost, only space tourism has the volume to do so.
  • Quotes Futron study -
    • 25% polled might/might not go, 26% possibly would, 25% definitely would= large potential market
    • Near term 10,000’s per year
  • To become a reality need a revolution - to get into space and back safely.

Governments haven’t been able to do it so far, where New Space comes in. Listed key players in industry Branson/Carmack/Bezos/Musk - common theme all come from outside the space industry, had changed/revolutionised their previous sector.

  • Contrasted Old space ($35 billion for Ares 1/Orion) v new (SpaceX)
  • Commented how need each other, New Space wouldn’t succeed without NASA as anchor customer.
  • How developing relationship- SpaceX doing ‘donkey work’ (supplying ISS), NASA pioneering new frontiers, different job (why costing so much more to develop)


Andrew Nelson

Tourism on the Lynx Spaceplane, Andrew Nelson, XCOR

Apparently he used to work ion London, commented how good to be back.

[Notes:]

  • Showed a few videos
  • [Gave] last 10 years of company history in 30 seconds from first engine up to Lynx.
  • Commented how often innovation doesn’t come from big projects but small incremental steps.
  • More video - Oshkosh air show, test flights of Rocket racer.
  • Described how [they] demonstrated safety and quick turnaround needed for commercial space flight (tight schedules at air shows, could even go earlier than planned when asked - not common for rocket engines!) Could refuel in 8 1/2 minutes. Plan for Lynx to fly 4-5 times a day.
  • Described what a tourist flight in Lynx would be like, medical screening [and] training involved.
  • Next went though the ‘Myths’ of space flight and explained how they can be overcome (cot, size, etc). Summarised projected markets by 2014 and breakdown (launch service/sale of vehicles/equipment/other uses of their composite materials)
  • Unique aspects of Lynx - ‘green’ fuel, jet like operations
  • Enabling tech - piston pumps, non-flammable composites - all in hand.
  • Company safety record - 4000 firings, 66 manned flights - no lost time to accidents
  • Other uses - pod (‘cub’) for expendable upper stages 10-15kg payloads for $500,000, 2 days notice needed.
  • Looking at orbital concepts but no pictures yet! 2 concepts are studying - innovative and low cost, when get cash flow from sub orbital will look at in more detail.

Q&A:

  1. Why coexist with old space - why not replace now? Political question - old space has jobs/influence. Question of how quick industry can adapt. 10-20 years may replace old firms if don’t get taken over like Scaled
  2. How [do you] see Lynx system mature with 1 vehicle? Mk 2 will be second one built- full 100km. Discussed pro/con of their approach vs Virgin/SS2
  3. Have they looked at hypersonic systems? - Yes looked at some old work by Northrop but don’t think cost effective for them, maybe in future
  4. Comment by a Virgin employee that isn’t clear from the talk that [the Lynx Mk.I] only goes to 37 miles not into space - reservations have taken so far will be for MK.I.
    1. Also to Space Adventures - are [they] still taking reservations? - Yes but no new info on projects until they reach milestones [that they] are happy with
    2. To SA - how maintain momentum - has another flight to ISS this year, and another chartered for after that. Still interest
  5. What is green about Kerosene? - Green compared to Hydrazine!
  6. Ticket price on Lynx - $95,000 - half of Virgin (but half the height, as someone shouted!)
    1. SA - lunar flight status - on hold until get confirmed client
  7. Global lottery? - Proposed many times, too many issues legally to make work
  8. Schedule for Lynx- begins tests late 2010, no set date for commercial service. Mk2 depends on issues find with mk1- 9-18 months later

 


Hugues Laport-Weywada

EADS Space Tourism project, Hugues Laport-Weywada

Admitted [that they] are not a new space company, made their demonstrators ages ago. Now big aerospace.

Why believe in a suborbital spaceplane?

  • High level tourism market exists - $91 billion in 2005 - EADS involved in though sale of helicopters/jets
  • Space exploration is a basic trend (listed explorers, culminating in Tintin!)

How can [they] be part of [commercial spaceflight]:

  • Suborbital mid-range of existing options (high - ISS, low - 0g flights)
  • Other applications - 0 g experiments, high speed transport

What are doing now?

  • Have completed 1:1 scale mock up, wind tunnel tests, reentry profiles
  • Slowed down work now, finished pre-project phase.
  • Ready to go when get funding (hard to raise in current climate)
  • Will develop like an aircraft - extensive testing and fully certified ([this explains] why so expensive)

When - won't be first! Waiting until funded.

 


Will Whitehorn

Its Not Just Space Tourism - Will Whitehorn, Virgin Galactic

Described how impressed they are with XCOR and other companies, commented how they are building a space transport system that could be used with other vehicles like Lynx or its developments. Called their approach ‘schizophrenic’.

Showed video given to potential customers - Usual PR

Described how Virgin group is a ‘branded venture capital group, and how space fits in (new tech that improves other sectors). One of the few large groups that believes in climate change and migrating through technology. (Gave example of their pendalino trains - most efficient high speed trains in Europe)

Talked about Global Flyer and how it lead to SS1/2, materials tech allows it to be possible today (X-15 held back by material of the day)

‘Better to follow a pioneer than be one’

SS2 - new system, described follows from SS1, safer than ground launched rocket (but not necessarily a spaceplane like XCOR’s), and more flexible.

Composites key - WK2 = combination of WK1 and Global Flyer.

Next went to the describe how the customers input led to the bigger design of WK2, which has given greater flexibly/more options. 17 tons to 50,000ft payload, more than needed for SS2. Can use to put a 200lb payload into orbit

Twin hulls - using one for 0g experiments, other for passengers to view launch. Has 7g capability, so can use for training anywhere in world. Want to maximize experience. Under current legislation can only be used for space applications, not for water bombing, aid drops, courier etc. Does have 2000+ mile range.

Other applications - 4 businesses planned

  • VG Space Tours
  • VG Science services
  • VG cargo (satellites)
  • VG World Travel (commented Virgin Atlantic would want that one!)

Showed a video of WK2 in flight

And had a nice model too. Talked about importance of being environmentally friendly and the tech developed being used elsewhere (esp. composites in commercial airlines).

Described Spaceport America and how [they] plan to operate [it] as home base, but will [go] ‘on tour’ from different spaceports - UK needs regulations to allow to operate. Sweden already has legislation similar to US to allow flights.

Finally described investment opportunity - looking to IPO within 2 years of service starting, but will consider taking on external investors next year.

Q&A:

  1. Affect of ITAR? - confident US gov understands issues and don’t think will be a problem (many foreigners fly on 747’s, doesn’t mean can build one)
  2. How did Burt react to their changes in requirements? - No changes during project, had planned from early stages. Feel [they] have been a good customer
  3. Can give examples of space science customers who are willing to pay? - not yet, only one can name is NOAA because aren’t paying
  4. Why rely on one type of vehicle? - in long term [they are] looking at operating other systems when they are developed.
  5. What want out of IGT group? - (advising on UK policy) - not sure what want, don’t want status quo to remain.
  6. World travel plans? - can’t go [into that], not looked at much yet. Will look at when system up and running
  7. Insurance? - WK2 insured, rare for experimental aircraft. To get data for insurance industry - lower premiums more data they have

 


Thomas McCallum

Session 2: Lossiemouth, We have lift off - Thomas McCallum, Spaceport Scotland

Gave history of Lossiemouth, (built 1938, trained Dambusters in WW2), advantages as a spaceport- compare well to Spaceport America in terms of workforce, facilities.

No barriers to using airbase for tourist flights - MOD underwrites maintenance costs.

Scotland - 90 research units, 135 companies including 12 global aerospace firms.

Opportunities - big tourist industry already looking to entertain families while space tourists doing training, etc

 

Spaceport Sweden- Mattias Abrahamsson, Swedish Space Corporation

History of Swedish spaceport, facilities offer. Partners include Ice Hotel, history of extreme tourism.

Kiruna - has space high school, Institute of space physics, EISCAT radar station/tracking network- everything needed to run a spaceport

Progress - done application for suborbital spaceport, May 09 issued statement will conduct launches under sounding rocket rules for 3rd party liability. Have started planning services [that they] will provide. Been doing business plans too. Want to start a International Space University in 2011.

Want to provide tailor-made support for operators as soon as is demand for their facilities.

 

Session 3: Space Tourism, An insurance prospective - Cedric Wells, SCOR

What better way to bring everyone down after lunch than by discussing insurance/legal affairs? Talked about risks, how minimise, differences in liability for space and aviation activities.

Are space tourists astronauts? - No, participants under current regulations. I didn’t take many notes as I didn’t find the subject that interesting.

Q&A Panel:

  1. How much support for Lossiemouth in London/Edinburgh? - more in London, (defence still under Whitehall), MP for Moray very keen
  2. Trade off for spaceports between remoteness and things do? UK - advantage in more for the family to do, At Kiruna already have thriving adventure tourist trade (esp. ice hotel), spaceport will enhance (joked - can see santa - that’s Finland!)
  3. Why hasn’t kiruna developed as a launch site more in the past? - overflight issues, most previous launcher would have 1st stage impact in Norway. Falcon 1 first that wouldn’t hit. Not an issue with suborbitals

 

ESA’s View on Space Tourism, Andre Farand, ESA

Had requests for support, studies to see what ESA’s role should be.

  • Activities - general studies programme - assessed practicality /credibility, looked at carbon footprint.
  • ESA’s main interests - technology/new developments, could lead to new high speed transport.
  • Commercialisation - could link with manned space flight programme.
  • Visibility of space activities - need distinction between career astronauts and space flight participants.
  • Legal aspects - want to put European player level with US.
  • Current view - should show ’Cautious support’ to industry.

 


George Neld

Space Tourism, the Governments role - George Nield, FAA

Described role of Office of Commercial space flights role, launches have licensed in past year (7).

  • Listed other notable events - WK2 rollout, Falcon 1 launch, Armadillo winning XPC, NASA contracts to SpaceX/Orbital.
  • Regulatory role- requirements for liability for operators/ participants.
  • Augustine panel- review of Human space flight - ongoing
  • Listed approaches to safety, flight crew requirements have issued and guidance for participants- informed consent.
  • Medical requirements- none! Is guidance to operators, but can do what they want.
  • Won’t stay like this forever, initial rules while industry establishing.

Q&A:

  1. Distinction between participant and professional astronauts - not passengers like on a plane,
  2. What safety requirements for HTHL vehicles that won’t affect public like traditional Rockets?- safety standards the same, test in isolated areas and see where go from there.
  3. Does ESA foresee a time when will be more involved with flight providers, say as anchor customers?- Will wait and see results of current policy. Still early days.
  4. What rules likely in Europe?- difficult to say as so man national bodies involved, more complex than USA.
  5. What timescale do they see the need for international harmonisation of rules?- FAA- don’t foresee for next few years, are interested in talking to other countries/agencies. For p2p travel will need international agreements. Starting to meet with representatives from UK/France/Japan to discuss

 


Richard Garriott

Keynote Speaker: Richard Garriott, private astronaut

Described his background, why he wanted to go. Father was an astronaut, grew up surrounded by them and NASA employees. Told couldn’t be a NASA astronaut as he had bad eyesight, [so] decided to find another way.

  • Has done other extreme trips - South Pole, Hydrothermal vents, titanic, considers a researcher not just a tourist (took samples from vent, has a company now selling novel proteins gathered from the bugs he cultured)
  • Training went through - needs same level of expertise as other astronauts.
  • Least favorite part – food in Russia (same every meal) [, also] medical preparations not fun, had to have surgery before could go.
  • Launch - like strong and graceful ballet. Not violent.
  • Mentioned space adaptation sickness, had fluid shift.
  • Very loud in some parts of ISS, newer bits quieter.
  • Toilet needs improving.
  • Described experiments did in orbit - protein crystal growth, ham radio, art in space, education outreach.
  • Photos took - more than official crew had to do. Did some same shots his father took 30 years ago to compare change.
  • Impact has had on him - seeing Earth from space. Can see human impact everywhere - no fertile land not used by people.
  • Very good speaker and enthusiast, wants to go back. Thinks will be able to do so soon (even though he spent most of his fortune on this flight)

Q&A:

  1. Was it possible to do a space walk? - yes, did some training. Only reason didn’t was couldn’t afford.
  2. Have you had any contact with the Overview institute? - No
  3. What next? - Has spent most of fortune, thinks will go on a sub orbital flight, if not orbital within 5-10 years.
  4. What made communications so effective - outreach to schools, competitions, got kids to ask questions /propose experiments.
  5. What else could be done in space - Protein crystal experiments - showed can be done, needs following up
  6. Question about photo of the launch - was there a guy that close to the rocket? No - but launch control was a bunker 100 meters from pad
  7. Do you foresee a time when space travel will be too expensive - no, currently huge amount of global income spent on luxuries, will have to drop a lot before [it] is unaffordable, Need cheap energy, conservation won’t solve problems. Space part of the solution (SPS, resources etc)

Reception:

Afterwards was a drinks reception. Pictured here Jeff Foust from The Space Review and Duncan Law-Green (Rocketeers.co.uk). Freebies! A souvenir wine glass, courtesy of Logica!


 

The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey
NewSpace Watch at NSG

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
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