Extraterrestrial tourism reality - Maxicours

Extraterrestrial tourism reality

Objectif

Découvrir un aspect de la notion “Innovations scientifiques et responsabilité”.

Points clés
  • La conquête de l'espace :
    • Démonstration de puissance des gouvernements pendant la Guerre froide ;
    • Recherches scientifiques (Big bang, vie extraterrestre).
  • Les possibilités futures quant à l'exploitation de l'espace (hôtel spatial, village lunaire, colonisation de Mars).
Pour bien comprendre

Revoir le programme spatial des USA et de l'URSS après la guerre

1. From books to reality

Who has never dreamt of traveling into space and land on another planet? If you have read books by Isaac Asimov (Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn), Ray Bradbury (The Martian Chronicles) or Jules Verne (From the Earth to the Moon), I am sure you understand what I mean. Well, what has long been a dream is now reality.

When Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in 1969 he did not think that he had just opened the door to new ways of considering space. But of course he had! And lots of people have benefitted from this feat since then, especially in the domain of tourism as we are going to see in the following lines.

2. The conquest of space

In the past, the conquest of space was reserved to governments, now private companies like SpaceX, SpacePort or Virgin Galactic can offer you the holiday of your life… providing your bank account is well filled. Indeed, it would cost you about 60 million dollar to explore space from a space hotel.

As the earth has no more secrets for us, space is now the next boundary to be crossed. Popularised by the cinema and science fiction writers, space attracts more and more people but the cost may dissuade most of them and remain accessible for a minority.

The Space Conquest was seen as a competition between two Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States (US) in the 1950s. Each wanted to show their capability in space flights. As each block was afraid of the other, it was necessary to develop a program necessary for national security.
The competition began on August 2, 1955 when the Soviet Union responded to the US who had announced they wanted to launch artificial satellites. The Soviet Union achieved the first successful launch with Sputnik 1, and sent the first human to space (Yuri Gagarin in 1961).
But in 1969, the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, will be American.

The Space Conquest is also important for scientists who try to solve the secret of our origins or find traces of life on other planets.

It all started in 2004 when SpaceShipOne flew 62.5 miles (100 km) above the Earth’s surface, reaching the Karman line known as the point of entry to space. SpaceShipOne is the first private spacecraft to take a pilot to suborbital space, which means that it goes into space but does not reach the altitude where it can orbit Earth. It goes to the end of the Earth’s atmosphere (the Karman line).

Since then, entrepreneurs have dreamt of beating this record and sending passengers into space for an unforgettable –and expensive- journey. In 2105, 100 won a one-way ticket to colonise Mars in 2025! Since then, a village made by 3D printers and lunar materials will have been built by the European Space Agency to host the lucky winners. That sounds incredible, doesn’t it?

3. Space, a new holiday destination?

Technology has improved so much in the last decades that we do not know when it can stop. Probably never. As far as holiday is concerned we can say that it is much cheaper and much faster to travel nowadays. Indeed, the most remote places in the world can be visited anytime today. So why not explore new lands? Travel agencies believe in this new concept and allege that within 10 years we will be able to sleep in a flying hotel or spend a few days at the Moon village. Even NASA has announced that they will welcome paying guest on the International Space Station soon! How wonderful it will be for these holiday makers to see the Earth from above.

What makes space so popular today is television as we can see more and more space flights and even follow from home the daily routine of an astronaut in his shuttle. Remember Frenchman Thomas Pesquet who went into space to carry out experiments for the European Space Agency. 

Space is not a dream anymore, people feel that they can live an extraordinary experience even though few will have the possibility to afford the costs in a near future. Indeed, how many people can spend 50.000 dollars for a night on the ISS (International Space Station)? Not many I am afraid. But we can be sure that prices will fall considerably by the end of the century and our children or grandchildren will probably go to space as easily as we book a flight to the other end of our planet. It is just a question of time.

Let's hope that people will not have to fly away from the Earth and settle on a space station because of a nuclear catastrophe as in the American series The 100! No, it is pure fiction of course.

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