For a long time, I’ve felt that translunar tourism was an interesting potential market, especially for guys like me who have the solution of propellant depots that is definitely searching for a problem. I was quite interested a few years back when David Anderman of CSI announced their whole “Lunar Express” idea of using a Soyuz to send space tourists around the moon. I thought the idea was pretty darned clever (the CSI guys are pretty good at being clever), and apparently so did Space Adventures, because they also started trying to drum up interest for a similar flight. The only problem I had with the whole concept was the price tag.
At $100M per person, I figured that the price was so high that nobody would bite. There just really aren’t that many people in the world who even have $100M, let alone enough more than $100M that they could actually afford a $100M vacation. So, my focus has always been on trying to find ways to lower the price point at least to the commonly accepted (though probably quite inaccurate) $20M price for a ticket on a Soyuz. But if what Clark reports about what Eric Anderson was saying on NPR today is accurate, I may need to find some recipes for crow.
Now, I’m not exactly firing up the grill yet–it’s pretty clear from Eric’s comment that while they have people who’ve expressed interest, they most definitely do not have the full $100M in hand at the moment. But if his statement isn’t total marketing hype (and you have to remember–these are the guys who’ve arranged for several ISS trips so far, so there’s a real chance it isn’t just hype), and he’s actually able to get even one paying customer at that price point, that will be truly impressive. And it will likely provide a fairly nice prod to people with business plans for orbital propellant depots to start moving faster.
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