Before you start scoffing, said businessman, Chirinjeev Kathuria of Chicago, had previously formed a company -- MirCorps -- that sent an American businessman into space in 2000. So it's kinda already been done. Kathuria's new effort is a Canadian corporation named PlanetSpace, a partnership with Canadian Arrow, a company originally founded to compete for a prize to build the first successful space vehicle.
Kathuria says of PlanetSpace: "The fact is I've always wanted to make commercial space travel a reality for the everyday person, and to create a business to make a company profitable. PlanetSpace is going to be doing that and to create a whole new industry based on space tourism. We are going to focus on making products in space, for instance, pharmaceutical drugs that we can make 10 times cheaper in zero gravity. We will also look at satellite repair, waste disposal."
It's exciting, but also scary, to think that the corporate structure, and the capitalist bottom line, could succeed where government space programs fail: in developing a civilian culture of space travel and habitation. I suppose, though, that between an arms race and the profit motive, there's not much to choose from.
In any case, by the time you're old enough to retire (your health bostered by drugs produced in orbit), a cruise out the stratosphere, possibly even to the moon, might be one of the brochures your travel agent sends you. In Hyphen's Issue Seven (due out at the end of the summer) we'll have a feature on how to take care of your body in zero gravity. Better get started preparing now.