Boeing plans are out of this world

By BenitaZepeda

I’ve often looked up into the sky at night and wondered what exactly it’s like outside of our atmosphere. Sure, I can look at NASA’s website, watch videos online and, of course, I can always watch the countless blockbuster films about space—“Armageddon” was real, right…? But I imagine, nothing can compare to taking a closer look at the depths of our universe first-hand.

Luckily, for all the people who are tired of vacationing on our planet can schedule an exhilarating 10-day trip into space, possibly starting in 2015.

Well, that is if you just happen to be a millionaire.

What once seemed to be just pure fantasy and consideration is quickly becoming a reality when Boeing and Bigelow Airspace of Las Vegas announced their partnership with a space tourism company called Space Adventures on Sept. 13 to send NASA astronauts and tourists to the International Space Station.

Well, it’s awesome that I will probably never get there.

The deal, although insanely awesome, will only turn into another excessively expensive bragging right to the societies’ elite. I can picture it now, two affluent men of leisure, roughly the ages of 45, sipping on scotch judging each other on their winter vacation plans—“Wow, Bob…a winter in St. Bart’s is just so lower-middle class. I’m touring space this year.”

However, there is criticism about the fact the development of this program will rely on tax-payer’s dollars filtered into the Obama administration’s proposed 2011 budget for the private-sector space travel initiative.

So while the Average Joe works tirelessly away to make ends meet, wishing on the stars for opportunities like vacationing to Florida, Joe’s tax dollars are going to help fund the research for a trip of a lifetime for people who have possibly already had a trip of their lifetime. How unfair.

The contract for preliminary research alone cost $18 million dollars.

The business of space tourism is going to create an even more apparent clash in status this way. Yes, space exploration should be continued, and yes, it would be incredible to imagine that someday this could be accessible to a bigger population. But why should we foot the bill of the rich’s adventures?

It is also disheartening that this interest in furthering exploration is stemming only from competition. The Russian spacecraft Soyuz carried Cirque de Solei’s founder, Guy Laliberte, to space for an eight day stay at the space station. His trip only cost him roughly $40 million according to Associate Press. That definitely seems doable, right?

Competition is driving the idea and dollars into creating a new, lucrative American industry, which a New York Times article on Sept. 15 said would free more of NASA’s budget for deep-space missions.

But why does our interest in space always stem from the United State’s alpha-male mentality to always be the best?

But I guess in an ideal world, allowing the masses to tour space would really be about the people and competition wouldn’t matter. Instead, it will serve the purpose of providing competition not only with the U.S. and the rest of the world, but also among the wealthy individual’s social circles.