Author Topic: 20th anniversary of Space Tourism  (Read 718 times)

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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20th anniversary of Space Tourism
« on: 04/28/2021 11:08 am »
20 years ago today Dennis Tito launched into space.

Here’s a thread by Eric Anderson, who headed up Space Adventures that arranged the flight:

-- A THREAD: On the 20th Anniversary of Space Tourism, here are "Things I didn't expect would happen, but did. And what I learned from it all" ... A thread

1/ When co-founding @SpaceAdventures (SA) in 1998, we expected the start of the first space tours in 2001. Amazingly, we were right on schedule. (Naturally fate demanded space tourism start in the namesake year of Clarke's 2001 A Space Odyssey.)

2/ SA's first client would become history's first space tourist 20 yrs ago on this day. Rocket fire replaced sci fi dreams. Cheers the world over signaled the change in paradigm. It all became real at 07:37:20 UTC on April 28, 2001.

3/ Why? Because Soyuz TM-32 left the Earth with Dennis Tito (first space tourist) onboard! Making orbit, a new era began with Tito's mission. A window of opportunity that SA, Tito, and many others worked hard to open up had finally opened!

4/ We went for it, and succeeded. We were right about Tito and spot on with the year of 2001. Admittedly, though I was wrong about almost everything else I expected and predicted then ....

5/ Mind you, this was 1998. When SA was founded, there was no SpaceX, no Blue Origin, not even an International Space Station yet!

6/ So our initial plan envisioned only suborbital tourism (a la XPRIZE). in 1998, I never dreamed the very first #SpaceTourist would fly straight to orbit instead!

7/ $100K was the price for those suborbital tickets (which I thought was expensive). But Tito's price was to be 200x higher - yes, that's $20,000,000! Ppl were amazed someone paid so much to fly to space! Almost unimaginable then.

(7.a) Why did Tito pay so much for space travel? -- Because it was worth it!

(7.b) But what about those suborbital flights?-- Well, still not available, amazingly.

8/ I can tell you know that in 2001, I never would have guessed that today, 20 yrs later, in 2021, we still would not have operational suborbital #SpaceTourism.

9/ And I also never expected that the Russians would remain the only way to #space for so long. Even today, and for just a little longer, they have held the distinction of sole operator of space tourism flights for 20 yrs!

10/ Now we did expect @NASA to put up roadblocks to discourage Dennis' #spaceflight in 2001. But the reasons NASA communicated directly and by implication, and the personal attacks on Tito, shocked me and still sting!

11/ NASA's harsh opposition wore on Tito and all of us emotionally. After all, Tito was NASA's biggest fan - he'd started his career as @NASA engineer! He loved NASA, and yet NASA ostracized and rejected him at his most desperate hour.

12/ It got so bad that Tito was physically turned away at the gates of @NASA_Johnson upon arrival for crew training. NASA's message was clear: Space was not for private citizens, and definitely not for you, Tito!

13/ Thankfully, the Russians disagreed & stood their ground for Tito. As an astrodynamics expert, Tito knew his stuff. In pursuit of a life-long dream he was super committed. In truth, a fantastic 1st #SpaceTourist he is! He worked & persevered as very few could have.

14/ Thank God the public disagreed with NASA too. #SpaceTourism really took off after Dennis flew. SA launched 8 missions in 8 years. And did so as the price kept going up!

15/ On the subject of price -- back in 2001, I thought Tito's $20M would end up being the MOST expensive ticket to #orbit ever. Geez, was I wrong!

16/ In fact, $20M turned out to be the lowest price ever for orbital space travel since then. (Presumably #Starship by @SpaceX will break that "record" one day!)

17/ Even so, $20M is and remains huge money. Yet just like that, the VALUE of a flight to #space was created. What was $100K one day became $20M the next. And prices kept going up

18/ Now I was 26 yrs old then. Today I realize more just how hard it all was. Pulling it all together to make that mission happen was hard. I had to make up for my immaturity in the business world with hard work, aspiration, and dedication.

19/ See, as a kid I wanted to be an astronaut. Alas, because of NASA's eyesight requirements, I was ruled out, putting a chip on my shoulder. Come on, I'd say ... why should space travel be only for "Top Gun" types?

20/ In truth our core mission at @SpaceAdventures was always about making space available to the rest of us. We'd seek to create opportunities as best we could, and goal remains today.

21/ Dedication, people working together, remarkable luck, and timing our efforts during the brief windows of opportunity we had to act are what really made it happen 20 years ago. #Spacetourism

22/ The most important thing I learned was this: When windows of opportunity open, make sure you notice, make sure you're ready for them, and then act without hesitation. Windows also close, and they can close FAST. #SpaceTourismDay

23/ I also learned that "not possible" is not the same as "NO". Impossible really means "not now" or "not yet." Conditions change, often for the better and often fast and unexpectedly. Be ready to adapt and move forward!

24/ The Russians were fond of saying "not possible" to us in 1999 when I asked about launching tourists. But I kept saying, "why not?"

25/ Finally one of them told me what "not possible" really meant .... which was this: "We don't believe you can find anyone to pay the price"!

26/ Luckily, for all of us, they were wrong about that one! I'm sure they're glad to have been wrong. And the man we can all thank is Dennis Tito himself - by opening up his checkbook, he kicked off an industry 20 yrs ago today! #Pioneer

27/ Getting Dennis to the launch pad was full of many challenges but more much fun. I want to personally thank Dennis for toughing it out, for trusting in my 26 year-old self and in @SpaceAdventures. Thanks @Roscosmos for sticking to their word and by Tito!

28/ And I also sincerely say thank you to @NASA, for real, because 20 years later, finally you've come around and in a big way. Space is opening up more than it ever has, and for all. #AdAstra now.


Offline high road

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Re: 20th anniversary of Space Tourism
« Reply #1 on: 04/28/2021 05:30 pm »
So, it would appear NASA people dunking on private innovators used to be the norm in the 90's and early 00's. Luckily, times have changed.


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