14 February 1998
Perhaps it's the $10 million X Prize that's spurring on these companies in a race to be the first to launch civilian passengers into orbit; then again, maybe they just want people to experience the ultimate thrill. After all, what's left on Earth? We've explored every country, sailed every sea, and observed every square inch via our satellite transmissions. So move over, GPS, it's our turn.
According to an article by Andrew Quinn (Reuters, 12/31/97), we certainly have the technology and the opportunity, we just need the thrill seekers with bulging pockets. At least that's what Zegrahm Space Voyages and Civilian Astronaut Corps (CAC) are hoping. They each have a plan to orbit civilians in space by the years 2001 and 1999, respectively.
For $98,000 (ask about the payment plan), Zegrahm is offering a 2 1/2-hour flight to an orbit of 62 miles above sea level, where travelers will experience a scant 2 1/2 minutes of weightlessness. The company's vice president and spokesman, Scott Fitzsimmons, reports that most queries are coming from tour companies - lending credence to the theory that people will, in the near future, view space travel as within their grasp. The $98,000 will get you a seven-day trip that includes hotel, meals, lectures, and training, along with the 2 1/2 hour flight. CAC is charging $3,500 for a flight promising 4 minutes of weightlessness, and plans to have their spacecraft ready by 1999.
These may seem like very small reward for such hefty price tags, but they are, after all, only the beginning. Other companies have more long-range goals in mind. The Lunar Resources Co.'s (LRC) Artemis Project, which is making preparations for what it hopes will be the first commercial Moon colony in the next decade, is confident that those participating in these first tiny ventures will pave the way for mankind's next foray: into space. LRC's vice president, Ian Randal Strock, expects the success of companies like Zegrahm and CAC to build interest in and help promote LRC's bid to become the first successful colonizer of the Moon and beyond. Artemis Society International (ASI) is the company's non-profit organization which seeks to involve interested participants from around the world in its mission to the Moon through an extensive network that actually conducts most of its business on the World Wide Web, given the diverse background - and location - of its hundreds of members. By accessing its Web site at www.asi.org, you can find thousands of pages discussing fact sheets, spacecraft and habitat plans, business ventures, and opportunities to become involved. This group is financing its plans to build and maintain a working lunar colony through a wide variety of business deals, including merchandise sales, promotional and entertainment deals, and joint ventures. Once established, the lunar colony will earn money through mining, manufacturing, and travel ventures.
List of Articles in ASI Online News
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