Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

YOU Can Book Passage to the Moon

In an ironic twist of good old fashioned, entrepreneurial capitalism, the Russians have announced open seats for '...anyone with the wherewithal...' (their words – not mine) to strap into a cramped, antiquish Soyuz capsule for a fling about the moon. The Russians don’t really care if you’re sick, lame or lazy, they just want the cash – all $100 million of it in cold, hard currency. The mission will be flown by a Russian cosmonaut and will carry two commercial passengers. Living conditions on the spacecraft will be tight, as the interior will have a volume of approximately 350 cubic feet, about as large as the inside of a large SUV. Under the plan, a cosmonaut and the tourists, after spending a week at the ISS, would fly a Soyuz spacecraft around the Moon and return to Earth. Now that’s what America is – or was - all about!

Of course - a lot of folks will never actually believe that anyone would really cough up a hundred million for such a trip. Well - hang on to your hats. One man has already stepped forward, American (aren't they all?) Greg Olsen - currently scheduled to fly on a Russian ship to the ISS in '06. And if that isn't good enough, the Russians have actually conducted a marketing study and discovered their market: 1000 other wealthy potential ticket holders with their eyes cast skyward.

Now, you logically ask, why isn’t America involved in anything like this? I mean, it was we, after all, who invented capitalism in the first place and actually made it work. Well, sadly, the list is long indeed. We can start off with astronaut hero worship, follow it up with half a million lawyers lining up to sue everybody involved and their grandmother in case of an unplanned hang-nail – or, God forbid, some unplanned nausea on orbit. And that doesn’t even begin to discuss OSHA and at least a million other laws designed to protect you, me and the endangered snail. Yeah, YOU can book passage to the moon today, but you will be flying under a communist flag. Hey – don’t get mad at me – I just report it as it actually comes down.


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