NEWS FLASH!!!! NEW TECHNIQUE MAY HELP FIND ALIEN LIFE
Incredible pictures of Jupiter's Europa Moon and the area comparison on Earth
Space Tourism To Rocket In This Century, Researchers Predict
Space Tourism To Rocket In This Century, Researcher Predict(ScienceDaily)
Seeking an out-of-this-world travel destination? Outer space will rocket into reality as “the” getaway of this century, according to researchers at the University of Delaware and the University of Rome La Sapienza. In fact, the “final frontier” could begin showing up in travel guides by 2010, they predict.
“In the twenty-first century, space tourism could represent the most significant development experienced by the tourism industry,” says Prof. Fred DeMicco, ARAMARK Chair in UD's Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management program.
“With the Earth under attack from a myriad of environmental impacts, including climate change concerns and pollution, outer space is the next viable frontier to explore and make longtime plans for,” he notes. “While there are global policies to be determined relating to private ventures in space, the technology to make space travel safer and cheaper is moving forward.”
DeMicco and Silvia Ciccarelli, a geoeconomist who was a recent visiting scholar at UD, co-wrote “Outer Space as a New Frontier for Hospitality and Tourism,” which is in review for an upcoming issue of the Hospitality Educator. Ciccarelli is a consultant to the Italian Association of Aerospace Industries.
What kind of person will be lured to space travel? Is it those of us who've loved “The Jetsons,” “Star Trek,” or peering at the heavens through a telescope?
“This is a destination for the 'extreme tourists'--tourists who want the ultimate new travel adventure and the thrill of outer space,” DeMicco says. “They want something new and interesting--the room with the best view of Earth from space.”
According to surveys of the demand for space tourism undertaken in 2001 and 2006 by Futron, a U.S. consulting company, the average age of the wannabe space tourist is 55 years old, 72% are males and 28% are females, 46% have above average or better fitness, 48% spend a month or more on vacation annually, and 41% work full-time and 23% are retired. The projected demand is 13,000 passengers in 2021, with the ability of the celestial industry to generate revenues of $700 million annually.
While only a few multimillionaires have been able to afford the current $20 million pricetag to go up in a Russian rocket for a two-week stay at the International Space Station, shorter, more affordable “suborbital” space flights, costing on the order of $80,000 per trip, likely will drive space tourism in the near term, according to Ciccarelli.
“During these flights, a spacecraft reaches space, but it does not enter Earth's orbit,” she explains.
Suborbital trips are likely to become available to tourists by 2010-2015, Ciccarelli says, while tourism in space hotels is on a longer trajectory, predicted to become a reality in 2025.
So what will tourists in space do?
“Passengers will enter a world that only astronauts and cosmonauts have experienced--the acceleration of a rocket launch, weightlessness, and a spectacular view of the Earth,” Ciccarelli says.
The low-gravity environment 600 to 2,000 kilometers above Earth would suddenly make Leonardo da Vinci's dreams and drawings of human-powered flight possible, using fabric wings attached to the arms, and tails attached to the ankles, according to Ciccarelli.
“Many recreational and sports activities also could exploit this possibility given a fairly large chamber,” she notes.
A slowly rotating, cylindrical swimming chamber would enable people to become more like 'flying fish'-to swim in low gravity, but then propel themselves out of the water and 'fly' in a central air space, Ciccarelli says.
A safer, cheaper launch system is critical if space travel is to become more commonplace in the future. An elevator rising tens of thousands of miles into space is one possibility that scientists and entrepreneurs are considering.
“First envisioned some forty years ago, the space elevator will climb an enormous cable, like Jack up the beanstalk, to a terminal where passengers and cargo can board spacecraft for the trip farther out,” Ciccarelli says.
“Until recently this was a fantasy because there were no materials strong enough to build such a cable,” DeMicco notes. “Today, however, so-called carbon nanotubes up to twenty times stronger than steel are approaching mass production, and engineers say a space elevator could be completed within fifteen years.”
The non-profit Spaceward Foundation was formed in 2004 and NASA established a competition in 2005 to accelerate research on the space elevator concept.
While short excursions into outer space may be on the itinerary in the near term, a “space port” currently is being built in Las Cruces, New Mexico, with support from Virgin Galactic and other companies, and hoteliers are scoping out new locations some 238,000 miles above--on the moon.
“Lunar hotels are now being planned,” DeMicco says. “Galactic Suites is known as the first space hotel, and they promote delivering 15 sunrises and sunsets in a single day--for the adventure travelers who are willing to spend approximately $4 million for a three-day 'stay' in space,” DeMicco says.
In 1967, in an address to the American Astronautical Society, Barron Hilton, then president of Hilton Hotels, described a “Lunar Hilton” with its entrance on the surface of the moon and most of its rooms located 20 to 30 feet below the surface. The hotel would have an aptly named “Galaxy Lounge.”
More recently, companies such as Japan's Shimizu Corporation have focused on the design of an orbital hotel in space, with rotating rings to provide artificial gravity.
Who will run these space-age hotels?
DeMicco says UD's students will be up to the challenge. “Our Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management students are taught the latest trends in strategic management and forecasting including land, sea, and space among them, and UD is not only a Land Grant, Sea Grant, and Urban Grant university, but also a Space Grant university,” he notes.
“Indeed, they are the global travelers today through UD's study abroad programs, with aspirations for the stars in their hospitality and tourism careers of tomorrow.”
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is here!!!!!!!
Save your $$ for the trip!!
Space Tourism Insurance to Be Expensive
By Colin Clark
Space News Staff Writer
The personal spaceflight business — also known as space tourism — will face high hurdles from the insurance business in its early years, according to several industry experts.
Policy costs will be extremely high until companies fly without incident at least three times. And a string of early failures may well doom startups to business failure, one of three insurance experts on a panel about the subject said during a panel discussion at the Federal Aviation Administration's annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference.
"In the beginning rates are going to be high. They are going to be very high," said Raymond Duffy, senior vice president at Willis Inspace of New York. "Once you show a positive result the rates will come way down." Duffy noted that early failures, whether by one company or by several, could make it almost impossible for the new industry to get insurance. He urged the personal spaceflight companies to reduce risk as much as possible across the industry.
Ralph Harp of Falcon Insurance, Houston, said personal spaceflight companies needed to make sure they present a very detailed "picture of what you are going to do" as the industry gears up to send its first sets of customers into orbit. Insurers possess very little data about the extent or nature of the risks the new industry might face since there have been so few events beyond the space tourists who have flown to the International Space Station. "The better you can explain it, the better you are going to do" when buying insurance, Harp said.
George Whitesides, senior advisor to Virgin Galactic, told Space News after the panel finished that his company "has had positive discussions with insurers." They have told Virgin that the business model for the insurance seems sustainable.
Brett Alexander, president of the Personal Spaceflight Federation and a member of the insurance panel, said a "sustainable rate" for insurance would be built into the business models of the spaceflight companies.
Duffy added that, while the early days would be challenging, the insurance industry and the personal spaceflight companies probably would find ways to mitigate risk and manage the costs. Pam Meredith of the firm of Zuckert Scoutt & Rasenberger of Washington said the new companies must insist on extremely detailed policies since any exculpatory clauses — those that might provide liability protection — "must be very strictly and carefully written." She said state and federal legal exemptions, such as those in the federal Commercial Space Launch Act, would not necessarily protect the companies from liability since the insurance companies may find "ways of getting out of the laws" by focusing on where the accident occurred, where the accident was caused, where the parties are incorporated or where the contracts were signed. "So unless you have the protection of laws signed in all 50 states you don't have much protection," Meredith said.
Duffy said it will take the industry 10 to 15 launches before the insurance companies are comfortable with the level of risk they face. He said government subsidized rates would help both the insurance companies and the personal spaceflight business.
Earth: A Borderline Planet for Life?
ScienceDaily (Jan. 14, 2008) — Our planet is changing before our eyes, and as a result, many species are living on the edge. Yet Earth has been on the edge of habitability from the beginning. New work by astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics shows that if Earth had been slightly smaller and less massive, it would not have plate tectonics - the forces that move continents and build mountains. And without plate tectonics, life might never have gained a foothold on our world.
"Plate tectonics are essential to life as we know it," said Diana Valencia of Harvard University. "Our calculations show that bigger is better when it comes to the habitability of rocky planets."
Plate tectonics involve the movement of huge chunks, or plates, of a planet's surface. Plates spread apart from each other, slide under one another, and even crash into each other, lifting gigantic mountain ranges like the Himalayas. Plate tectonics are powered by magma boiling beneath the surface, much like a bubbling pot of chocolate. The chocolate on top cools and forms a skin or crust, just as magma cools to form the planet's crust.
Plate tectonics are crucial to a planet's habitability because they enable complex chemistry and recycle substances like carbon dioxide, which acts as a thermostat and keeps Earth balmy. Carbon dioxide that was locked into rocks is released when those rocks melt, returning to the atmosphere from volcanoes and oceanic ridges.
"Recycling is important even on a planetary scale," Valencia explained.
Valencia and her colleagues, Richard O'Connell and Dimitar Sasselov (Harvard University), examined the extremes to determine whether plate tectonics would be more or less likely on different-sized rocky worlds. In particular, they studied so-called "super-Earths"-planets more than twice the size of Earth and up to 10 times as massive. (Any larger, and the planet would gather gas as it forms, becoming like Neptune or even Jupiter.)
The team found that super-Earths would be more geologically active than our planet, experiencing more vigorous plate tectonics due to thinner plates under more stress. Earth itself was found to be a borderline case, not surprisingly since the slightly smaller planet Venus is tectonically inactive.
"It might not be a coincidence that Earth is the largest rocky planet in our solar system, and also the only one with life," said Valencia.
Exoplanet searches have turned up five super-Earths already, although none have life-friendly temperatures. If super-Earths are as common as observations suggest, then it is inevitable that some will enjoy Earth-like orbits, making them excellent havens for life.
"There are not only more potentially habitable planets, but MANY more," stated Sasselov, who is director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative.
In fact, a super-Earth could prove to be a popular vacation destination to our far-future descendants. Volcanic "rings of fire" could span the globe while the equivalent of Yellowstone Park would bubble with hot springs and burst with hundreds of geysers. Even better, an Earth-like atmosphere would be possible, while the surface gravity would be up to three times that of Earth on the biggest super-Earths.
"If a human were to visit a super-Earth, they might experience a bit more back pain, but it would be worth it to visit such a great tourist spot," Sasselov suggested with a laugh.
He added that although a super-Earth would be twice the size of our home planet, it would have similar geography. Rapid plate tectonics would provide less time for mountains and ocean trenches to form before the surface was recycled, yielding mountains no taller and trenches no deeper than those on Earth. Even the weather might be comparable for a world in an Earth-like orbit.
"The landscape would be familiar. A super-Earth would feel very much like home," said Sasselov.
Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) is a joint collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. CfA scientists, organized into six research divisions, study the origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe.
This research was the subject of a press conference at the 211th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.