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The 3,000…? December 11, 2007

Posted by shubber in distracting PR, gauntlet being dropped, hot air, Manned Space, smack talk, space tourism, suborbital tourism.

I often have emails forwarded to me by friends who are members of discussion groups which I have not been invited to because I am, perhaps, a bit too pragmatic for the kool-aid being served… a recent email which found it’s way to my inbox had an interesting quote/forecast buried in it which I thought I would bring to light, for obvious reasons.

Apparently, in 2004, Burt Rutan made the following predictions:

1) Within 5 years 3,000 tourists will have been to space.
2) Within 15 years sub-orbital tourism will be affordable, and 50,000
people will have flown.
3) Within 15 years the first, expensive orbital tourist flights will
have happened.
4) Within 25 years orbital tourism will be affordable.

Regarding item #1 – with only 385 shopping days until Jan 1, 2009, that’s not looking so promising.

Or, to take a line from one of my favorite books, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe:

Max Quordlepleen: And lastly, a party of devout believers from the Church of the Second Coming of the Great Prophet Zarquon. Still waiting for the Second Coming? Well, fellows, let’s hope he hurries. He’s got eight minutes left. (Laughter) No, but seriously, no offense meant. I know one shouldn’t make fun of deeply-held beliefs. So, I think, a great big hand for the Great Prophet Zarquon (applause) – wherever he’s got to.


1. Lee Valentine - December 12, 2007

These predictions are, as Arthur Clarke noted, too optimistic in the short run and too pessimistic in the long run. Short run being less than ten years and long run being more than fifteen. I expect Sir Arthur will be correct once more and space tourism will be affordable much sooner than 25 years.

2. Lee Valentine - December 12, 2007

Orbital tourism, that is.

3. Brian - December 12, 2007

Or, to take a line from one of my favorite books, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe:

Right after that Zarquon appeared and apologized for being late.

But, yes. Where Rutan erred was being too specific about dates. Prognosticators need to leave wiggle room and not let themselves be tied to specific dates.

4. shubber - December 12, 2007

Prognosticators need to leave wiggle room and not let themselves be tied to specific dates.

That’s the problem with this industry (alt.space as well as government space): too many prognosticators (or is that prevaricators?).

I can predict with confidence that at some point we’ll have lunar colonies, humans on Mars, a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.

So what?

Other than being a form of self-serving boosterism to try to encourage investor/suckers to part with their money so as to shore up yet another venture, or, even worse (see my previous post on “It’s Your Life”) convincing people to throw away years of their productive life chasing chimeras, what’s the rationale for making such prognostications?

I wish more prognosticators would be willing to put their money where their mouth is and take a bet from this Cynic. I would love to take their money.

5. wagga wagga - December 13, 2007

interestingly enough, there’s just such an opportunity (albeit with the cash going to charity) at Clock of the Long Now run Longbets.org
where one Hemant Sharma predicts: “By the year 2020, the tickets to space travel – at the least to Moon, will be available over the counter.”
If only the money didn’t have to go to a blasted charity, although all too many alt.space firms would probably qualify.

6. Universe Today » Carnival of Space #33 - December 13, 2007

[…] careful with your predictions for the future of space tourism, warns the Space […]

7. chiyapike - December 16, 2007

If they send 7.8 people per day into space they’ll reach 3000. I like the hitch hiker’s guide to the galaxy quote

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