Ticketed Passengers Only Aboard Soyuz ('TANSTAAFL' Says Roskosmos)
Russia's space agency Roskosmos announced that it would stop giving free rides to US astronauts beginning in 2006. US space shuttles have been grounded since February of 2003, when the shuttle Columbia burned up on re-entry.
(From Soyuz/ST rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan)
Roskosmos is hoping to expand its space tourism program; two people are currently under consideration for flights on a Russian space craft to the International Space Station. So far, two passengers have paid $20 million (US) for tourist trips to the ISS aboard Soyuz craft.
Passengers to distant celestial bodies in science fiction stories have long been used to fare-based space travel. In his 1953 novel Second Foundation, Isaac Asimov not only sells tickets to far-flung solar systems, but uses automatic ticket machines to boot:
And the voice that cut in on her was a thunderclap that iced the scream in
her throat into a voiceless slash.
"Look, miss," it said, irritably, "are you using the ticket machine or are
you just standing there?"
It was the first she realized that she was standing in front of a ticket
machine. You put a high denomination bill into the clipper which sank out
of sight. You pressed the button below your destination and a ticket came
out together with the correct change as determined by an electronic
scanning device that never made a mistake. It was a very ordinary thing and
there is no cause for anyone to stand before it for five minutes.
Arcadia plunged a two-hundred credit into the clipper, and was suddenly
aware of the button labeled "Trantor." Trantor, dead capital of the dead
Empire the planet on which she was born. She pressed it in a dream.
Nothing happened, except that the red letters flicked on and off, reading
172.18 172.18 172.18
It was the amount she was short. Another two-hundred credit. The ticket was
spit out towards her. It came loose when she touched it, and the change
tumbled out afterward.
(Read more about Asimov's automatic ticket machine)
In The Fountains of Paradise, Arthur C. Clarke even pointed to cheaper ticket prices being an advantage of the space elevator:
In addition to avoiding the danger, noise and environmental hazards of
rocketry, the space elevator would make possible quite astonishing reductions in
the cost of all space missions. Electricity is cheap, and it would require only
about a hundred dollars' worth to take one person to orbit. And the round trip
would cost about ten dollars, as most of the energy would be recovered on the
downward journey! (Of course, catering and inflight movies would put up the
price of the ticket. Would you believe a thousand dollars to CEO and back?)
The head of Roskosmos, Anatoly Perminov, stated that a barter system would also be acceptable. Read more at Russia to end free space rides for US Astronauts.
And 'TANSTAAFL?' Stands for there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. And appropriately, it's explained in Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by a Russian character. Read more at TANSTAAFL.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/4/2005)
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