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A Weekend in Outer Space? U.S. Space Tourism Prepares for Launch

Looking for a truly out-of-this-world vacation? You're in luck. The Boeing Company, a member of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), has announced plans to enter the space tourism industry. By 2015, Boeing plans to fly private passengers aboard commercial crew spacecraft to destinations in low Earth orbit including the International Space Station (ISS).

Boeing has teamed with space tourism company Space Adventures to market passenger seats aboard the Boeing Crew Space Transportation-100 (CST-100) spacecraft. Carrying up to seven passengers, the CST-100 capsule is Boeing's spacecraft entry for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program.

Funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the CCDev program aims to stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop safe, reliable, and cost-effective space transportation capabilities. The idea is to turn over the business of taking NASA astronauts into low Earth orbit to the private sector, thus freeing up the agency's budget for deep-space missions and opening the doors to an American space tourism industry. Boeing was awarded $18 million under one of five NASA Space Act Agreements granted to American companies earlier this year.

A trip aboard CST-100 would work much like typical airline travel today, only tourists would get to ride elbow-to-elbow with NASA astronauts. CST-100's primary mission would be to transport four NASA crew members to the ISS, leaving three of its seven seats open for private space tourists. Boeing and Space Adventures have not yet set a price, but will do so when full-scale development is under way. Seven earlier space tourists have traveled in Russian Soyuz capsules, a trip that carried a price tag of up to $40 million.

Happy Birthday, ISS!
On November 2, the International Space Station celebrates its tenth anniversary of continuous human habitation. The station's first dwellers included U.S. astronaut Bill Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko. Since Expedition 1, the space station has been visited by 196 individuals from eight different countries.

Fun Facts:
  • The ISS has more livable room than a conventional five-bedroom house, and boasts two bathrooms and a gymnasium
  • In a 24 hour period, the ISS travels the distance from the Earth to the Moon and back
  • Measured end to end, the ISS is almost as long as a football field
  • The ISS weighs nearly one million pounds, the equivalent of 320 automobiles

Can't wait for CST-100? Take a NASA tour of the International Space Station now!

As more companies get into the game, competition, the thinking goes, would help drive prices down. NASA expects to award another $200 million next year to multiple contractors to accelerate the availability of U.S. commercial crew transportation services and reduce the gap in U.S. human spaceflight capability that will follow the expected retirement of NASA's space shuttle fleet next year. While the awards are expected to be announced by March 2011, funding ultimately depends on the 2011 fiscal year appropriations from Congress.

Those looking to enter the budding space tourism industry can look to standards published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for guidance. ISO 14300-1, Space systems -- Programme management -- Part 1: Structuring of a programme, provides a basis for establishing and negotiating space program management requirements for customers and suppliers. The standard is intended to offer thorough guidance on managing space programs while remaining flexible with regard to implementation. ISO 14300-2, Space systems - Programme management - Part 2: Product assurance, defines requirements for the establishment and implementation of product assurance programs for space programs. The standard covers the design, development, production, and operations of space products.

The standards were developed by ISO Technical Committee (TC) 20, Aircraft and space vehicles, and its Subcommittee (SC) 14, Space systems and operations, with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) serving as the ANSI-delegated secretariat.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


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Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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