Heading to the moon for your summer holiday might sound far-fetched, but Australian researchers and entrepreneurs want to make it happen.
Our space industry here in Australia has a bright future. The Federal Government's newly created Space Agency is due to launch in Adelaide any moment now, and entrepreneurs from around the country are flocking to South Australia to be a part of it.
Companies like Fleet Space are developing high-tech nanosatellites to improve global Internet of Things services, and founder Flavia Tata Nardini is working closely with Elon Musk to make it happen.
But space tourism is an untapped industry ripe for the picking by Australian entrepreneurs according to researchers at the University of South Australia.
UniSA Professor in Tourism, Dr Marianna Sigala, says the time has come for other Australian industry leaders, from sectors including space, tourism, food, health and education, to be actively developing strategies aimed at ensuring Australia is a key global player in future space tourism.
"We can't afford to ignore this any longer, because it has such huge potential to become a major industry delivering many multiplier economic effects Australia can build a whole tourism ecosystem with numerous sub-economies around space tourism," says Dr Sigala.
"If you have a spaceport in Australia, people don't just fly in and fly out; they need to be fed, insured, they need medical checks, psychological support and training, they will have family with them who will need to be accommodated and all these extra dimensions would develop into a network around space travel.
"And you also have those people who want to go to space but for health reasons, can't, so developing simulation services, like a space-themed 'park', on Australian ground is another opportunity for a new 'tourism' attraction."
Richard Branson, who hopes to be taking tourists into space by the end of 2019 (though whether that will materialise is unclear at this point), says Australia is an extremely attractive location for a spaceport.
"We would love one day to set up an operation in Australia and to work with the Australian government in making that possible," said Branson to the ABC earlier this year.
Dr Sigala also notes we shouldn't underestimate the potential social good that could arise from regular routine access to space.
She believes space tourism could provide greater opportunity and funds for scientific research, bring down the costs associated with other orbital technology such as satellites, and possibly provide new perspectives for travellers' understanding of Earth and the universe.
"Space tourism falls into the category of what is known as 'transformational services', which are consumed not just to satisfy basic survival needs; transformational services enable people to rethink and re-set their value system, their priorities and way of thinking, to learn and to self-develop, to change their attitude, mindsets or their behaviour or perception about certain things," says Dr Sigala.
"Anyone travelling into space and seeing the Earth from above, even if it is only for a very brief period of time, will likely be psychologically and socially transformed by the experience in some way."
"This is what makes space tourism something more than just a trip for the rich the experience will have deep meaning for many people, so I believe the space tourism industry can expect to see strong growth and demand, even after the novelty of being one of the first to experience it has passed."
Business News Australia
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