A Look Back at Space Tourism Version 1.0 as New Gaggle of Millionauts Prepares to Fly

The first space tourist, Dennis Tito, poses with Soyuz TM-32 crew mates Talgat Musabayev, and Yuri Baturin in 2001. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For eight years, they thundered aloft in cramped Russian spacecraft from a former Soviet spaceport in Kazakhstan, battling bureaucracy and gravity to blaze a trail across the heavens and redefine what it meant to be a space traveler. No longer would access to orbit be limited to highly trained astronauts chosen on merit and working on behalf of their nations; instead, space would be open to any sufficiently healthy people with enough money and moxie to qualify.


Democratizing Space, One Billionaire at a Time: The Return of Space Tourism

They’re baaack! Tourists will return to space this year after a 12-year hiatus. Above, the first space tourist, billionaut Dennis Tito (left), poses with Soyuz TM-32 crew mates Talgat Musabayev, and Yuri Baturin in 2001. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Democratization has a set of fundamental elements to it. It involves giving the people the power to choose their leaders. It means making a political system accountable to those people. It’s creating a government and culture that respect the freedoms laid out in the First Amendment: speech, assembly, religion, press and the right to peacefully petition the government for change. It’s not just changing how the government operates, but how the society functions.

The last thing I ever expected democratization to include are joy rides into space by millionaires and billionaires. But, that’s what NewSpace spinmeisters would have us believe as space tourism returns this year after a 12-year hiatus. They really should stop.


Roscosmos: No Immediate Plans to Send Tourists to ISS

Dennis Tito

A top Russian space official has warned not to expect a resumption of space tourist flights to the International Space Station any time soon.

Russia’s Roscosmos state corporation has no plans to send space tourists to the country’s segment of the International Space Station (ISS) before 2020, Roscosmos deputy director general for international cooperation told Sputnik in an interview.

“As for sending tourists to the Russian segment of the ISS, Roscosmos has no plans to implement such flights before 2020 because of the absence of the relevant capabilities,” Sergey Savelyev said.

He added that space tourism was not limited by ISS-related projects and Russia’s corporation was interested in attracting tourists.

Seven space tourists made eight visits to ISS during the 2000’s, beginning with Dennis Tito in 2001 and ending with Guy Laliberte in 2009. The most recent attempt to send a tourist to the station fell through when British singer Sarah Brightman pulled out of a planned trip in 2015.

Mars Flyby Congressional Hearing Set for Thursday

Full Committee Hearing
Mars Flyby 2021: The First Deep Space Mission for the Orion and Space Launch System?

2318 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515Feb 27, 2014 10:00am


Dr. Scott Pace, Director of the Space Policy Institute, George Washington University

General Lester Lyles (ret.), Independent Aerospace Consultant and former Chairman of the Committee on “Rationale and Goals of the U.S. Civil Space Program” established by the National Academies

Mr. Doug Cooke, Owner, Cooke Concepts and Solutions and former NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Mission Directorate

Dr. Sandra Magnus, Executive Director, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics


The Obama Administration has NASA planning to send astronauts to an asteroid that would be captured by a robotic spacecraft and brought to a location near Earth. Congress, by and large, doesn’t like this plan and has been reluctant to provide money to fund it.

Dennis Tito’s Inspiration Mars mission had listed 2021 as a backup date to the non-profit organization’s plan to launch two astronauts on a flyby of the Red Planet in 2018. The 2018 mission, which would last 501 days, now appears implausible now due to a failure to raise sufficient funds.

A 2021 flyby would take 88 days longer than the 2018 mission, but it would have the added bonus of a close flyby of Venus.

With NASA Not Interested, Will Tito Approach Russia, China?

Credit: Inspiration Mars
Credit: Inspiration Mars

Dennis Tito’s trail balloon for NASA to devote about $700 million to help his foundation, Inspiration Mars, send two astronauts around Mars in 2018 has landed with a thud. An official response from NASA’s Public Affairs Office included this curt dismissal:

Inspiration Mars’ proposed schedule is a significant challenge due to life support systems, space radiation response, habitats, and the human psychology of being in a small spacecraft for over 500 days. The agency is willing to share technical and programmatic expertise with Inspiration Mars, but is unable to commit to sharing expenses with them.


Vote in Our New Inspiration Mars Poll

Gingrich PollHey everyone.

We’ve got a new poll up about Inspiration Mars. We’re asking whether NASA should refocus its work on Space Launch System and Orion to support Dennis Tito’s ambitious plans to send two astronauts around the Red Planet.  NASA would need to spend about $700 million to support the mission, which would cost about $1 billion overall.

Please cast your ballot today! Remember: vote early. Vote often. Just vote, dammit! Vote!

In other poll-related news, Parabolic Arc’s readers have strongly supported the idea that Newt Gingrich should be brought back from his desired trip to space. A full 55 percent of you voted that he should make a round trip to space, with 45 percent in favor of making the voyage one way.

In a political race, that would be a very strong showing of the voters’ preference for one candidate over another. In this case, it’s a tad disturbing that so many people would shoot the former House Speaker off into a deadly environment with no hope of ever returning safely to the Earth. In fact, if only five votes had gone the other way, there would have been a narrow majority in favor of leaving Gingrich out there permanently.

More evidence, in my mind, that Gingrich’s quadrennial efforts to obtain the highest office in the land are doomed to failure. Just too much baggage. Not enough to prevent him from going into space, but sufficient to deny him election to national office.

Stu Witt, Dennis Tito to Testify at House Space Subcommittee Hearing

Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)
Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)

Mojave Air and Space Port General Manager and CEO Stu Witt will testify along with space tourist and Inspiration Mars Chairman Dennis Tito at a House Space Subcommittee hearing concerning commercial space on Wednesday.

Patricia Cooper, president of the Satellite Industry Association, will join Witt and Tito on the hearing’s second panel.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), whose district includes the Mojave spaceport, will be on the first panel.

The hearing will be webcast live beginning at 10 a.m. EST.

Subcommittee on Space Hearing –  Commercial Space
Subcommittee on Space
2318 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515
Nov 20, 2013 10:00am


Panel I

  • The Honorable Kevin McCarthy, Member, Majority Whip, U.S. House of Representatives

Panel II

  • Ms. Patricia Cooper, President, Satellite Industry Association
  • Mr. Stuart Witt, CEO and General Manager, Mojave Air and Space Port
  • Mr. Dennis Tito, Chairman, Inspiration Mars Foundation

Mars Society Launches Student Design Competition for Inspiration Mars Mission

Inspiration Mars Vehicle
BOULDER, Colo. (Mars Society PR) –
Today during the 16th Annual International Mars Society Convention, the Mars Society announced the launch of an international engineering competition for student teams to propose design concepts for the architecture of the Inspiration Mars mission.  The contest is open to university engineering student teams from anywhere in the world.


Inspiration Mars Webcast Set for Wednesday


Dennis Tito’s Inspiration Mars press conference will be webcast on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 1 p.m. EST. You can sign up to view the announcement here. The multi-millionaire former NASA engineer turned investment guru is expected to announce a human Mars mission that would launch in January 2018.

Other participants in the press conference include:

  • Miles O’Brien, moderator
  • Taber MacCallum, chief executive officer and chief technology officer of Paragon Space Development Corporation and crew member for two-year mission in Biosphere 2
  • Dr. Jonathan Clark, associate professor of Neurology and Space Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and space medicine advisor for the National Space Biomedical Research Institute
  • Jane Poynter, president and chairwoman of Paragon Space Development Corporation and crew member for two-year mission in Biosphere 2.

Dennis Tito to Announce 2018 Mission to Mars

Dennis_TitoIn January 2018, a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will roar off a launch pad carrying the most ambitious human space mission since Apollo 11 nearly 50 years earlier. Two crew members in a heavily modified Dragon spacecraft would break Earth orbit on a 501-day round-trip fly-by of Mars.

This privately-led mission will be unveiled next Wednesday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., by the Inspiration Mars Foundation, a non-profit group chaired by former NASA engineer and space tourist Dennis Tito.


SFF Parties as Tax Evading Benefactor Walt Anderson Ends Prison Term

Mircorp_logoWith it being Saturday already back on the East Coast, former MirCorp CEO and convicted tax evader Walt Anderson is now a free man. And the Space Frontier Foundation is partying like its 1999.

Anderson, whose company MirCorp leased the Russian space station Mir during that final year of the 20th century, has been under house arrest at his parents home in Virginia since July as part of a nearly 8-year prison term in what the federal government has called the largest individual tax evasion case in history. He served most of the term in a federal prison in New Jersey.

The Space Frontier Foundation — which benefited from Anderson’s financial largess prior to his stay in the Big House — is having a “Flaming Mir” party in his honor on Saturday night at a restaurant in McLean, Virginia. The foundation is paying for drinks, light appetizers and desserts only, and it recommends attendees eat dinner before arriving. The RSVP email is [email protected]


Week in Review: Gliding Toward the Future With Russia’s Donald Trump

Parabolic Arc’s Week in Review….

Space Tourism Turns Ten: The space community celebrated the 10th anniversary of the first private spaceflight by Dennis Tito. Since that time, six other millionaires have followed on seven government space missions (Charles Simonyi flew twice).  Truly private sector spaceflight — using its own vehicles — is still waiting in the wings.

Two Steps Forward, One Back. In Mojave, SpaceShipTwo made its sixth glide flight – and second in five days – amid reports that engine development is also accelerating. Meanwhile, in New Mexico, Virgin Galactic Vice President Will Pomerantz promoted development opportunities near Spaceport America as the Legislature slashed the project’s budget.

Plus ca change… On Thursday, officials from NASA and the CCDev winners held a press conference at the Kennedy Space Center to discuss the future of America’s space program as workers prepared Endeavour for the penultimate mission of the Space Shuttle program. More than 700,000 people – including President Barack Obama and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords – gathered the next day only to have NASA cancel the launch because of a problem with an auxiliary power unit. Problems with APUs bedeviled STS-2 in 1981.

Putin Channels The Donald. Russia’s leader for life fired Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov after seven years on the job and replaced him with retired Army Gen. Vladimir Popovkin, who formerly served as director of Russia’s Space Forces. Putin said that Perminov was too old to serve, but the real reason was a series of embarrassing launch failures and program delays. Thus, Putin is no more honest when firing people than Trump has been about Obama’s birth certificate. Pray these two never face each other at a summit meeting.

The Next Great Leap. China unveiled details of a space station it will launch by 2020 that looks a lot like Mir circa 1996.It’s little wonder that efforts to create a new space race with China have fallen short. The country has launched six people into space over eight years; the most recent mission was over 2.5 years ago.

Happy Tenth Birthday, Space Tourism!

Parabolic Arc’s Fun With Numbers Tour continues this morning with a look at space tourism on this 10th anniversary of millionaut Dennis Tito’s historic flight to the International Space Station. And what a decade it’s been — for government space travel. Here’s why:

Table A(wesome): Human Spaceflight From Dennis Tito to Today

No. of Flights

No. of Crew Members

No. of Space Tourists

Percentage of  Total Flights

Percentage of Total Crew

Percentage of Tourists on Crews

Space Shuttle



































As Table A shows, space tourism has been making steady if unspectacular progress over the last decade. From zero percent on April 27, 2001, space tourism has climbed to nearly 3 percent of all crew members sent into space. Good job!