By Mallory Schlabach, Editor in Chief
Face the Facts
I could fly to the moon in the near future for less than $20 million.
As the space tourist program gains popularity, particularly in the Western part of the world, new programs have developed and ideas tossed around to put more civilians in space.
One program is the Journalist in Space program that NASA discussed several years ago with journalists Walter Cronkite and Miles O’Brien at the top of the list. Although no formal program has been created, it is a possibility.
Much like the possibility that civilians, without much asstronautical training, could travel to space for vacations and stay in orbiting hotels as early as 2010, projections said.
Last week a Russian Soyuz capsule landed in Archly, Kazakhstan, with a U.S. astronaut, a Russian cosmonaut and a space tourist, who paid $20 million for her week-long trip into space, on board.
Anousheh Ansari, 40-year-old telecommunications entrepreneur, was the first woman and the fourth person to pay her way into space.
This idea of civilians traveling to space for millions of dollars or one day traveling and staying in a hotel in orbiting earth disturbs me. It diminishes the sense of the awe I feel for space travel when I realize that, yes, I too could be in space one day.
Who knows what’s coming in the future. By the time I have children, we could be taking a graduation trip to the moon or watching the sky littered with flashing Motel 6 signs next to the Big Dipper.
At least six teams are building private space ships to carry individuals into space in the near future. One director of a team estimated tickets could go on sale for private space travel by 2009. Virgin Galactic, one such company, is already selling tickets at $200,000 a piece.
Will there be an end to man’s ingenious discoveries? Call me old-fashioned, but I like the mystery in certain parts of the universe. I don’t really want to know if life exists on other planets. I’m quite content to see a sky full of twinkling stars on a clear night and know nothing more than that God placed each star where he wanted it to be.
If you think about it, though, what is the point of private space travel? Who will grow up to be astronauts if anyone with a checkbook can be one? Is the view worth $20 million?
I want my children to dream of walking on the moon, not take a field trip there. And to be honest, my view of earth is quite breathtaking, even from Abilene.