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Imagine tourism across the solar system

Posted by: Ekkehard Augustin - Thu Sep 25, 2008 4:59 pm
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Imagine tourism across the solar system 
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Post Imagine tourism across the solar system   Posted on: Thu Sep 25, 2008 4:59 pm
What would tourism across the solar system be like?

Would tourist travel to the other planets and moons like from Hamburg to South Africa to experience an exotic environment and live in it for a short time? Would it be just jumpimg on another planet and do there like they do on Earth?

Or is the travel itself of a major meaning compared to the meaning the flight by an airplane is of on Earth?

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Post    Posted on: Fri Dec 05, 2008 1:47 pm
Sometimes I like to imagine what it would be like to go to other worlds in the Solar system. Circumlunar journeys will take place pretty soon, I predict, and hopefully it wont take too long until tourists and adventurers will be able to land on the surface, maybe even spend a night or two at a hotel. One could visit perhaps the Apollo landing sites, or interesting geological (selenological?) features. Beyond that I think propulsion will have to improve greatly in order to let tourists travel to Mars and beyond during their vacations. Of course, super rich adventurers would have all the time in the world... Beyond Mars I can see tourists going to the large moons of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. I have wondered what it would be like to go to Triton as a tourist...


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Post    Posted on: Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:42 pm
I have to agree with Maverick. Lunar tourism seems to be something that will come rather sooner than later. I guess some of us will probably be able to do something like that (depends on how fast the whole newspace sector grows and how fast prices become affordable for "normal" people.

For Mars and beyond propulsion probably is the most limiting factor of all at the moment (besides propulsion a mars round trip is not that much harder than a circumlunar journey I think). I think for real "tourism" (in the sense of a short time "casual" experience) you have to cut flight time to a destination down to a few weeks instead of months.

For Mars this is technically doable right now (powerful ion drives or in the near future VASIMR).

If (or when) we manage to make a spaceship even go faster than that, than I guess the moons of Jupiter and Saturn would be great locations to visit (just imagine watching Saturn and his rings rise above the horizon!).

Everything else is probably a bit too boring to visit (at least for me).

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Post    Posted on: Fri Dec 26, 2008 1:12 pm
I think overall cost is the biggest issue. In the days of sea-faring ships, some people might expend all their wealth, sail across the seas (with considerable personal risk of death) for journeys taking sometimes years, all for the sake of adventure.

Once we have had a real manned interplanetary mission (man on mars for instance), and have proved that long term habitation in space is possible, then the only remaining barrier I see is cost. If it remains at the price level that only governments can afford, then it can't happen. But if it were possible to launch a largely self-sufficient mission for, say, a couple billion dollars for a handful of people, then the potential is there.

I've wondered what it might be like to make a trip to Jupiter and back. It would probably be a five-year journey, if not longer. Being cooped up for that long, one would need a pretty substantial ship to pull it off. I'm thinking '2001' style (the movie, I mean), in scale if not in actual construction.

As it is, that kind of operation would be on the magnitude of 20 billion, not 2 billion. Even the construction of space-capable life support and a vehicle would cost more than anyone would want to spend. The space technology for human habitation must become more commonplace, to bring down the costs of all that.

A couple technological breakthrough's wouldn't hurt. Better propulsion to decrease travel time. Maybe technology for large-scale solar reflectors, at grams per square meter. The solar-light-gathering requirements for growing staple foods at Jupiter-orbit distances would be pretty enormous. A compact nuclear reactor would be a nice addition, but would be pretty expensive itself, not to mention the other problems with that idea.

Of course, would people want to go? Yeah, I think so. If I had a hypothetical billion, I'd be pretty willing to spend most of it to be one of the first dozen people to see Jupiter, up-close and personal, with my very own eyes. That's just too awesome.

Though I do wonder what I would actually see. I've heard that at the orbit of Jupiter's innermost moon, it spans 60 degrees of the sky? something like that. Does that kind of image out the window really give one the sense of scale of a planet almost a dozen times bigger in radius than that of the Earth? Or does it even matter? It would be a hell of a view, either way. It makes me excited just thinking about it.

If there were a group of companies and/or governments, willing to sell a ticket like that, attached to a reasonable chance of surviving the journey and not taking a decade to do it, then tourism in the solar system might be a real possibility. If the price were to ever come down to a few hundred million, then it's an easy thing to predict. Someone would be willing. Then you could send a couple doctors, engineers, etc., up too, in case it there was some real problems.

Beyond that, to the point that normal people (i.e. not ultra-rich space nuts, just rich space nuts) can make a trip out of earth orbit, it would need a real industry in space. Asteroid mining, lunar manufacturing, something that enables all the raw materials for transportation to already be up there. Then we can just attach some rockets to the space-hotel and send it on it's way. That would be a century away, in just about any case.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Dec 26, 2008 2:05 pm
In order for true space tourism to be in the cards, there needs to be some changes to the way things are currently planned and managed.

Besides the thrust, speed, cost and logistical issues, there is one more that has been written about, but we don't hear much about in discussions like these. That is the psychological and personality issues that could doom a long duration expedition with a small number of people.

In order for a small number people to co-exist inside a confined space (such as a long duration space trip, or a colony on a distant planet, they need to have the right mental make-up to be compatible. I suspect that most of those currently paying for their space tourism trip the ISS, would not be suited for a long duration flight. I have no way of knowing for sure, but my gut tells me that coming up with a few dozen compatible folks, that could live and work together for months (or years) in harmony, would be really hard. Even in isolated environments like Antarctica, there are plenty of opportunities to "get away" and be alone.

A way around that issue, would be to create a tourism experience a lot like you see on cruise ships. In those cases, there are scores of things to do aboard ship, with all the amenities you could ask for. Then every day or two, you have the chance to escape the ship for a shore tour. But creating such a space vehicle, and provisioning it, would be mind-boggling expensive.

Nonetheless, the leap from a survivalist environment, to a pure entertainment (aka tourist) environment would be orders of magnitude, and not likely in any of our lifetimes.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Dec 26, 2008 3:50 pm
1) Why will the Tourists be coming from Earth
2) Why will they be heading outwards, instead of inwards

Going inwards is eay; you just let the Suns gravity take you. Getting back out again is easier; you let the Sunlight send you (using either solar Sails or Solar Thermal Rockets). Plus Venus is closer. Who wouldn't want to see the Skies of Venus from the deck of a floating resort?

Travel times of a week to Mars are possible. Hey, travel times of a year to Pluto are feasible technically, though not politically.


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