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The Final Frontier, Meals Included February 23, 2001

The Final Frontier, Meals Included


If you're looking for a terrific vacation, don't bother calling a travel agent. Gene Myers has the destination for you. It offers a great view, and all the comforts of home. The catch? You'll have to wear a spacesuit, and your room won't be ready for at least six years.

  That's part of the sales pitch (of sorts) that Mr. Myers brought to students at the Rochester Institute of Technology this month. As founder of the Space Island Group, a company in West Covina, Calif., that plans to develop industrial and residential real estate in space, he says an outer-space vacation is no longer just a fantasy. The company's first space station is scheduled to open for business by 2007. "This will really open up a very broad world of possibilities," he says.

  R.I.T. provided a captive audience, given that Mr. Myers was a guest lecturer in the course "Space Tourism Development," in which students study such matters as orbital mechanics, commercial advertising, and food quality in space.

  He talked about zero-gravity sports, space-inspired music genres, and mobile colonies that would move among the stars.

  "There's a practical side to it," says C. J. Wallington, a professor of instructional technology, who teaches the course. "We think that ... space is going to open up commercially."

  Would students consider taking such an out-of-this-world trip themselves? "I don't know if I would go, because of cost and because of nerves," says Lindsey G. Sanford, a junior enrolled in the class.

  The company's estimated $25,000 price tag for a one-week trip for two doesn't give everyone pause, however. Says Mr. Wallington, "I'd go in a heartbeat."

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Copyright 2001 by The Chronicle of Higher Education

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