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Forget the ruins, casinos and boat rides, the outer space beckons you

Ishan Raychaudhuri| 07 Oct 2011, Vol 2 Issue 40

Stanley Kubrick never stepped out of his Childwickbury Manor in Hertfordshire, England for most of his last four decades of life. Known for being a recluse and a perfectionist, Kubrick had dreamt and made films about things few could have imagined at that time.

Today, he is known as one of the greatest film makers to have ever lived and someone who has influenced almost every single film-maker who followed. What was it that drew people to his films?

Was it the sheer reality and facts which were stranger than fiction or was it that his films took his viewers to a different, far more astounding world?

Perhaps it had more to do with the inherent human urge to explore, discover and search for the unknown.

Consciousness and intelligence, the two greatest liberators of any civilization, have been a part of us for so long that it feels absolutely natural for us now to send rockets and spaceships to the Moon, Mars and Europa.

The International Space Station (ISS) launched by Russia in 1998 is currently the largest habitable, artificial satellite and is a base for numerous experiments, similar to the earlier MIR space station.

Our quest for extraterrestrial lands may have been set off by concerns including but not limited to the possibilities of apocalyptic events threatening our existence on the third rock from the sun.

For as Voyager 1 (the farthest unmanned space probe in the universe) closes in on Heliopause – the outer limit of the solar system and the beginning of interstellar space – and heralds a new era of space exploration, space tourism is a veritable reality staring us in our faces.

In 2001, Dennis Tito became the first ever space tourist. He spent eight days aboard the ISS and later, six others followed. It could be your turn next to head out into space, stay in a space hotel and enjoy destinations transcendental, literally this time!

Orbital Technologies, along with their partner Energia, intend to build, launch and operate the world’s first Commercial Space Station (CSS).

The CSS will provide a unique destination for commercial, state & private spaceflight exploration missions and will be a valuable addition to the global base of orbital assets.

All of this was inspired by the ISS to utilize low-Earth-orbit for not only a platform for scientific research but also as a destination for tourism.

As Stacey Tearne of Orbital Technologies tells us, “No one on Earth can experience sunrise and sunset every 90 minutes, no one on Earth can stare at the expanse of space and reflect on the exquisite beauty of Earth while travelling at 17,000 mph!”

The duration of the stay will be determined by the activities proposed by the customer. And if you can afford to stay long, think about volunteering for some on-board tests and experiments.

By the way, if lounging in a jacuzzi is your image of a timeout, that’s not happening.

But then again, as Stacey reminds you, “You don’ get to float in complete weightlessness in a hotel on Earth!” And as far as epicurean indulgences are concerned, Stacey adds, “all the food shall be pre-cooked from Earth and only heated on the station.”

Space tourism, however, brings new concerns related to international laws and diplomatic arrangements.

Will we see a new struggle for ‘space-estate’? There is also a serious fear around environmental hazards resulting from frequent space shuttle launches.

To enjoy your trips into space without much guilt, Tearne suggests, “Clients can purchase environmental off-sets to mitigate the effects.”

If any of this interests and convinces you, and if you are willing to spend a cool $50 million, then you can contact Orbital Technologies at their website (www.orbitaltechnologies.ru)to reserve your spot.

We have been and will always remain discoverers and explorers. Where will we go from here? Only time will tell…and perhaps Stanley Kubrick could, if he had ever gotten around to making 2021: A Space Odyssey.

Photos courtesy: The Sunday Indian

Published by arrangement with The Sunday Indian
 

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