The importance of “space sports”

So what good is space tourism, rocket racing, or other seemingly-trivial endeavors? They’re actually very important, Taylor Dinerman argues in this week’s edition of The Space Review. Such ventures can stimulate interest in the space industry among students, and a vibrant industry filled with small developers is as important to the overall space field as small experimental airplane developers are to the overall aviation industry, he believes. “Over time it is going to make the space industry a greater and greater part of the US and world economy. Just as motor sports helped develop cars that eventually brought mobility to millions, space sports have the potential to bring space travel to a public with undreamed of results.”

Also in this week’s TSR, I have an article about risk, or at least the perception of risk, in both public and private space endeavors. A panel at the NewSpace 2006 conference back in July tackled this issue as it related to personal spaceflight, with Reda Anderson (Rocketplane’s first customer) and XCOR’s Randall Clague discussed informed consent and how to minimize the risk of flying in suborbital vehicles. (Anderson’s approach: going to Rocketplane’s factory and “shake hands and hug every one of the men and women there and say, ‘Hi, I’m Reda Anderson. I may look like payload to you, but I look like a human to me, and my only acceptable risk is to come back in equal or better condition than when I went up there.'” That works, although it may not be that scalable.

4 comments to The importance of “space sports”

  • Hi Jeff,

    I read that space sports article with some interest, because I’ve recently posted up a half-baked space sport idea at the Halfbakery.

    Rocket Golf
    Launch model rocket and land it in the hole

    Golf with reusable model rockets instead of clubs and balls. At the tee, players launch their largest and most powerful rockets towards the hole (or basket). Near the hole, small and accurate rockets are used. Many rockets use parachutes as recovery systems, so wind will be a factor.

    Rocket golf can be played at any open area. The size of the course is only limited by the power of the rockets.

    Designing and building new rockets would be a big part of the sport. Rockets could carry cameras to take photos or video during flight. Onboard guidance systems would be against the rules.

    Many of the traditions and rules of golf would apply: par, fore, water hazards, driving range, caddies, etc.

  • Hi Jeff,

    To amplify a bit on the D.D. Harriman problem:

    In practice, if someone is likely to have severe medical problems during a flight, he or she should fly with a medical professional aboard to deal with those medical problems as they occur. XCOR’s suborbital vehicle, Xerus, will be a two seater, so Xerus isn’t the best vehicle choice for someone who anticipates severe medical problems during a flight. Several other proposed vehicles could support such an arrangement, so as a practical matter, we would refer “medically challenged” prospects to other operators who could better support their unique requirements.


  • My friend had to sign a waiver before going skydiving asking, “Are you willing to die while skydiving?”

  • I’ve been running a Yahoo! group on the subject of space sports for some years now. I sure hope to see something in the real world soon.

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