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The Challenge of Outer Space Tourism: European space company Astrium investigates technical feasibility

Press Release From: Airbus Defence and Space
Posted: Wednesday, September 27, 2000

Astrium GmbH
Bremen / Hanover
 
Contact:
Kirsten Leung, presse-si@astrium-space.com
 
* Foundation laid by European core competency in the space transport sector   and the stay of people in space
 
* Realization is dependent upon market development within the tourism   branch
 
Hanover -- Virtually no-one is unaffected by the fascination of outer space and many people would pay a lot of money to be able to have just one look at Earth, our blue planet, from above. Until now this dream has only been realized by a few non-astronauts. Numerous studies carried out in Japan, the United States and Europe show that journeys to outer space for everyone offer an interesting commercial market for the future. "The space industry is already assessing market demand for 2030 and later in order to make sure that the relevant technologies are available when required," said Josef Kind, member of the board of management with responsibility for the space infrastructure business division of Astrium N.V. in a speech held on the occasion of the World Tourism Summit of the WTO (World Tourism Organisation) at the EXPO in Hanover on Wednesday.
 
"According to calculations carried out by NASA, space technology and its applications (e.g. telecommunications) are already responsible for a total annual industrial turnover of more than US $80 billion worldwide without the outer space tourism sector; by the end of the decade this figure will have risen to almost US $200 billion," Kind stated.
 
With the development of additional industrial sectors from the space industry, one such sector being outer space tourism, it is to be expected that turnover will reach a total of about US $ 500 billion.
 
Kind: "Astrium will not become a package tour operator with hotels in outer space, after all aircraft manufacturers do not operate airlines. On the basis of our expertise, however, we are pre-destined to develop, build and supply such a hotel as well as to organize the necessary transportation."
 
Astrium is a joint venture of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) and BAe Systems which has been commissioned by the European Space Agency (ESA) as the prime contractor and system leader for the development and construction of the research laboratory Columbus, the central European contribution to the International Space Station. In the launch system sector, Astrium supplies essential components to the Ariane program. The space infrastructure business division develops and manufactures the entire upper stage including the propulsion system for Ariane 5, integrates the second stage of Ariane 4 and produces thrust chamber systems for the propulsion units of Ariane 4 and 5.
 
From 2015 "Hopper", the re-usable transport system developed by Astrium, will offer a cost-effective alternative to launchers. To begin with, Hopper, unmanned and with a maximum takeoff weight of 400 tons, will transport payloads of up to seven tons into close-earth orbit and payloads of up to five tons into the geostationary transfer orbit. In order to transport loads to higher orbits, Hopper will set out payloads, which are connected to an upper stage, outside the Earth's atmosphere. Whereas this upper stage will burn out in the Earth's atmosphere after ignition and payload positioning, "Hopper" will land back on the Earth's surface like an airplane and can be quickly prepared for the next mission. The long-term goal is to use "Hopper" for the transportation of passengers.
 
The combination of a manned Hopper and a hotel turns outer space into a segment of the tourism industry. The time schedule for realization is dependent upon the future market.
 
Kind: "One thing is already clear -- there is no doubt that space tourism is technically feasible. And in the history of mankind, everything that was technically feasible eventually came into being -- the only question that remains is who will realize this opportunity. Finally, if the market develops, then rest assured that we will carry the "tourists" safely there and back again."

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