Space tourism: Chris Hadfield on the final travel frontier
Loren Christie, Canada AM travel expert
Published Friday, March 8, 2013 7:10AM EST
Last Updated Friday, March 8, 2013 7:15AM EST
Canada's number one space traveler Astronaut Chris Hadfield recently took the time to answer my questions on space tourism.
Loren: Uniktour, a leading travel agency and tour operator specializing in custom travel in faraway destinations has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Xcor Aerospace and Space Expedition Corporation (SXC) for the distribution of suborbital flights in the Quebec market. Are civilians ready for space? Should this trip be on everyone's bucket list?
Cmdr Hadfield: With some of the technology that's being developed, you can launch off the ground, go up high enough so you just get to the legal definition of space, about a hundred kilometres up or so. And then come back down again. Pretty amazing voyage. Are civilians ready for space? Well I'm a civilian. Most of the people that fly in space are civilians. I think the real question is, are untrained passengers ready for spaceflight, and should it be on everyone's bucket list? Well of course! It's just such a cool thing. Number one to be weightless, to be able to just tumble, even only for a few minutes to be able to do that is a completely rare experience. But to be able to see the world from this altitude, to be able to look down and see the curvature of the earth, and the thin atmosphere and the beauty of it and the colours of it. It's something that should be on everybody's bucket list, but it's still very complex and therefore to keep the safety high, it needs to be quite expensive. So you need to have a lot of money in your bucket, but if you do, sure…I'd put it on the list.
Loren: If you were writing a TripAdvisor review of the Space Station what would it say?
Cmdr Hadfield: So if I was writing a Trip Advisor for the Space Station, what would I say? Unique destination. Travel there is difficult but worth the ride. Accommodation and food are spartan, functional but healthy and overall acceptable. Recreational activities are limited. But the view out the window is out of this world.
Loren: Your photos that you tweet out are amazing! Which places have intrigued you enough to want to visit once you return to Earth - and why?
Cmdr Hadfield: Some of the places that I've seen that I haven't been that are the most beautiful … the coast of Greece and that part of the Mediterranean I would just love to visit along there. The islands are so beautiful. It's so rugged. The geology is so twisted and ancient along Albania and the Greek coast there. I'd love to visit those islands. Some of the unique islands that sit all by themselves along the south Atlantic or the South Pacific ...places I have never been that are ringed by coral that have a mountain in the middle that have a stage set for a movie like a King Kong or something. To see those sitting there, kind of untroubled from the world. Very removed from the normal hustle and bustle. To me that's a very intriguing and desirable place to go. And parts of Africa, the deserts primarily. Deserts are some of the most beautiful things you see because the colours are so widespread and the sands and the rock forms into such - they're natural shapes, but they look so artistic and beautiful. And up here, we're removed so we just see the artistry but I'd like to go and actually feel what that's like. To compare the super high altitude, very calm and overpoweringly visual aspect of it with the visceral, five sense reality of what those places are like, I'd like to go and experience that so I can compare the two and try to match them together in my head.