Space Tourism

Let’s Play – This is How We Do It (in Space)

Since we didn’t get to schedule a lunch, I thought I’d share some of the related mentions from my presentation at the Space Tourism Society Dinner in Los Angeles.

10 years ago, on April 28, Dennis Tito soared to space on  Soyuz rocket become the world’s first space explorer to fund his own trip to space. Dennis – Thank you for your contribution to opening the space frontier.

  • Retro space tourism posters.
  • Sir Richard Branson on Elon Musk (Space X), advice for British Petroleum, and Virgin’s interest in alternative fuels.
  • “If you could integrate any resource, gadget, or convenience on your Virgin America airplanes, what would it be, regardless of whether it’s been invented or not?”  A contest question to submitted to Sir Richard Branson by Marvin Arias. See  Sir Richard’s answer below.

Virgin Galactic CEO George T. Whitesides interviewed on MSNBC. George handled some of the more obnoxious questions well.

As I write this note, we have the U.S. Space Shuttle Atlantis orbiting the Earth as a part of its last scheduled mission. We’re patiently anticipating the maiden flight of SPACE X’s Falcon 9 which ought to be noted is a test flight. There are several other news items which although might not make the national headlines, are wins for the New Space. They also keep me bullish on this sector’s future.

Faces of Space member, George T. Whitesides, was named Virgin Galactic‘s new Chief Executive Office. He previously served  as Chief of Staff for NASA and was previously the Executive Director for the National Space Society,a leading space advocacy non profit. George is one of next

George T. Whitesides

generation space leaders who are making helping make space more accessible.

Rick Homans,  was named by Governor Bill Richardson to serve as the Chairman of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority.  He served as the Spaceport’s first  Chairman from 2005-2007. His acceptance of this position and second term reaffirms my belief that this Spaceport could have a strong future.

Rick Homans

Taking into consideration that Homans already served as Spaceport Chairman, he could have decline to serve a second time  had he though the Spaceport would be unsuccessful. Also, Homans led the effort to recruit Virgin Galactic as a tenant for Spaceport America.
To date, the New Mexico Spaceport has created 600 direct construction jobs and 1,200 indirect jobs according to a email from A Spaceport America (i.e. New Mexico Spaceport) Newsletter.

ARFF Dome Construction @ Spaceport America in New Mexico

I view the above announcements as positive signs for commercial space industry.

In case you missed Friday’s launch of the U.S. Space Shuttle Atlantis, below are several videos of the launch.

  • Environmental Tectonics looking for art that’s out of this world.
  • Launch into space with New Holland Construction competition.
  • Wanted: Head of Safety, Virgin Galactic.

Source: Wired

The United States’ government-run manned spaceflight program was given a one-two punch in the last year. In August 2009, the Augustine Commission (appointed by the Obama administration) recommended that NASA look to commercial space operators to take on the burden of ferrying mission commanders, scientists and specialists up to the International Space Station. Then in February 2010, the administration’s 2011 budget reflected that charge.

If Congress goes through with the budget proposal (and that is a big if), NASA will stop work on the Constellation program, including the in-development Orion module and Ares rocket and focus instead on a new heavy-lift vehicle and new space-related technologies. The move will pave the way for companies like SpaceX to take up the helm for low-Earth orbit (LEO) human spaceflight.

And, while other fledgling spaceflight companies like Virgin Galactic are not preparing to send people all the way up to the space station, they and other commercial companies are also making waves.

So what will a job market for the aspiring space junkie look like in 20 to 30 years? For a long time, the single goal for kids that were obsessed with spaceflight was to become an astronaut. Now, it looks like that job title will have some competition. Here are 10 non-scientist jobs I believe youngsters should start to prepare for:

LEO pilot (eventually, lunar transfer pilot)

Nerves of steel, excellent piloting skills (atmosphere and LEO). Must be able to calm tourists and provide comedic banter during flight. Virgin Galactic has the lock on this job category for the next few years. But Jeff Bezos is doing something out there in the Texan desert.

Space-travel ticket broker

While most travel agents are going the way of the dinosaur, a sub-culture of space-travel ticket brokers are just beginning to spring up. Their specialty will be helping you to plan your next trip to LEO, a space-based hotel stay or the ultimate lunar adventure.

Spaceport traffic control (also, on-orbit traffic control, Earth and lunar)

The skies can get busy once the industry begins to take off. Currently, the FAA has jurisdiction over private sub-orbital spaceflights. But if a company decides to take their business to the next level and go orbital, a new breed of traffic controller will need to be trained.

Human-rated spacecraft maintenance

Many of the country’s rocket builders are working on unmanned vehicles. As we get more human-rated craft ready for launch, specialists in this type of maintenance (life support systems, escape systems, etc.) will become more common.

Space communications specialist

Digital communications between space crews and their respective homebases will be a critical factor in any company’s success. And besides, we’ll need someone around to make sure all of the tourists’ Twitter and Facebook updates make their way to the internet from LEO or beyond.

Space Construction and Repair Specialist

As more permanent structures are built in LEO, it will take a specially trained person to handle repairs and upgrades. Some of these positions will be in situ (imagine putting in a three-month maintenance rotation), while others will blast up to their construction sites as needed.

Lunar base psychologist (presence on the moon not required)

Living for six months on the ISS is one thing. You are a Soyuz escape pod away from home. But, living on the moon will be a completely different experience. If we have regular flights up to lunar orbit, then you are at least three days away from being back under blue skies. And living in a desolate environment like the Moon could have an adverse psychological impact (studies are underway). Being that far away may give people thoughts of seceding from Earth.

Mars colony psychologist

If you think living on the moon is difficult, try living on Mars for two years, with little to no chance of rescue if things go bad. Add in the 11 minute communication delay and one word sums up your experience: isolated. Our Russian and European friends are already experimenting with extremely long-term disconnectedness (see Mars500). In addition to helping maintain the mental health of any Martian exploration group, a thorough psych exam will be a part of any team-selection process.

Nuclear and solar power engineers

Any base on the moon or Mars will need to generate its own power. Solar is the best bet for the moon (depending on the base location). However, a good nuclear generator would make a good backup. And it will be almost required for any long-term Mars and asteroid-belt mission.

On-orbit refueling specialist

One of the more exciting proposals to come out of the Augustine Commission was the idea of maintaining fuel depots on orbit. The plan is to provide service contracts to commercial spaceflight companies to keep these depots topped off with rocket propellant. With the depots in place, we could maintain a fleet of space-worthy craft that would serve as shuttles to lunar space or out to Mars and beyond. A space-based gas station!

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