Howdy, and welcome to Disabled Travelers!
With some companies out there claiming that the first sustained “space tourism” will take place in 2012, I got to thinking: will there be accessible travel in space?
Naturally, the Americans With Disabilities Act could easily be applied or extended to tourism in the “final frontier.”
But the are some activities and a few odd things that ADA does not apply to, including the internet itself.
So, with the clock ticking on space travel for tourists, will disabled travelers and their travel companions be included?
It might be a bit early to tell, but I decided to launch my own little investigation to get started. There are two U.S. companies that are preparing for spaceflight tourism any time soon: Space Adventures and Virgin Galactic. Space Adventures bills itself as “the only company to have sent private citizens to space.” The company uses Russian Soyuz spacecraft to reach Earth orbit, and has visited the International Space Station many times, with an expected “upgrade” to the new Boeing CST-100 spacecraft in 2015.
Their “rival” out there is Virgin Galactic, one of the many projects of eccentric British billionaire and real-life superhero Sir Richard Branson. Virgin Galactic has been much-touted, but it hasn’t lifted off yet, which a number of test flights preceding the big launch of commercial tourism as soon as 2012. The recent May 4th flight was the third in two weeks, and everything seems to be on schedule. Considering the huge resources marshaled by Virgin, this may well become the “Cadillac” of space flights!
Now, the big question … do either of these companies have anything to say at all about disabled travel or accessibility? And the big answer … no. Weird to say, but neither website has any kind of robust search functionality. I combed through every page I could find, and didn’t much on the expected physical requirements for “space tourists,” let alone any ideas about accessible travel.
I’d definitely like to see the next generation of travel accommodate everybody, so I’ve made a little inquiry to both Virgin Galactic and Space Adventures to find out what their take is. I’ll be updating everyone on that just as soon as I find anything out. In the meantime, let Disabled Travelers hear your view: would you be interested in space travel? What would it take to get you on a commercial spacecraft?
Next time around (unless the responses are ultra-prompt) we’ll be in Italy and France, but I can’t wait to follow up on this. It’s the wave of the future, and Disabled Travelers is always there to be ahead of the curve. We’ve been to some challenging destinations, but they’re always worth it! Could space be next? I, for one, really hope so.
Give me your perspectives … and ‘til next time, adventure on!