"Space Tourism: Fact or Fiction?"
Olsen, who paid $20 million to be a ""spaceflight participant"" as he calls it, joins an elite group of space tourists: Dennis Tito was the first paying passenger ($20 million) in April 2001 and Mark Shuttleworth was the second ($20 million) in April 2002.
In an article published by Aviation Week in 2000, Norman Augustine, ex-CEO of Lockhead Martin, predicted that space tourism would become the main space activity.
Of 1,500 Americans surveyed, 42% said they'd be interested in flying in a space cruise vessel, and would be willing to spend on average $10,800 for the trip.
Unfortunately, the laws governing space travel and the use of outer space were legislated through international treaties in the 60's and 70's and were focused primarily on government operations.
Not to mention that the Cold War was in full swing.
This lack of vision has and will continue to complicate the future of commercial space tourism unless changes are made.
For example, if a private Japanese company launches a rocket that explodes over Alaska and causes loss of life, the Japanese government would be liable in addition to the company.
On December 23, 2004, President Bush signed into law the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act.
But if each country does its part to legislatively promote the industry, the resulting patch quilt of national regulations will give rise to totally different levels of safety and quality standards.
Not the safest regime for those traveling into space.
The principles of such a treaty could then be adopted into national law thus making each country responsible for monitoring private enterprises under its control and enforcing the uniform standards.
In fact, there's already a waiting list.
The going rate for a seat onboard a Virgin Galactic suborbital spaceship is $200,000.