|On Oct. 11, 2005, American technology entrepreneur Dr. Greg Olsen returned to Earth after a 10-day mission aboard the International Space Station. Olsen became the third civilian to enter orbital space, following in the footsteps of American businessman Dennis Tito and South African Mark Shuttleworth. Should other private citizens be offered this opportunity? |
Space Adventures, Ltd. arranged Olsen’s trip through a partnership with the Russian Space Agency. Olsen paid millions of dollars for the experience, the proceeds of which will help the under funded agency improve its space programs. Before his recent mission, Dr. Olsen completed more than 900 hours of training in Star City, Russia.
While aboard the ISS, he participated in a research program prepared by the European Space Agency that studied the human body's response to the microgravity environment. The experiments were designed to study the possible cause of nausea and lower back pain, as well as the evolution of human bacterial flora.
"The experience was more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined,” Olsen said upon his return. “Certainly, through my training I was prepared for the technical aspects, but I had no idea that I would be flooded with such amazement and joy after seeing my first sunrise and sunset from space and the feeling of continual weightlessness. It was an unforgettable experience that I am truly grateful for and will relive in my mind for the rest of my life."
But not everyone is keen on the idea of private citizens visiting the International Space Station. Some challengers feel these civilians’ lack of formal education and experience in the field poses a problem if an emergency were to occur aboard the Station. Similarly, some feel the experience of visiting ISS should be awarded only to those NASA astronauts and international professionals who have studied for years and waited patiently to be assigned to a flight into space. Besides these concerns, other opponents argue these rich businessmen should not be able to buy their way to an important international space facility.
What is your opinion? Should private citizens be allowed to travel to the International Space Station? Should regular people be allowed the same access to space as trained astronauts? Share your thoughts in the Opinion Corner.
|Greg Olsen completes Soyuz training in Star City, Russia. Image courtesy Space Adventures, Ltd.|
|The first private space traveler, Dennis Tito. Image courtesy Space Adventures, Ltd.|