Source: St. Petersburg Times
Guest Writer: Kris Hundley (Times Staff Writer)
Submitted by: Lesmond
Eric Anderson’s company has taken two wealthy tourists on $20-million trips to the International Space Station using Russian equipment and launch pad.
Now he’s preparing to offer hour-long, suborbital flights to the public for a mere $100,000. And he’d like to base the operations in Florida.
Anderson is president and chief executive of Space Adventures, which has offices in Arlington, Va., Moscow and now near the Kennedy Space Center. He pitched his business — and bold request for incentives — to members of the state Commission on the Future of Space and Aeronautics at their meeting in Tampa last week.
“Florida should make it its objective to be a world leader in space tourism,” Anderson told the group, chaired by Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings. “A few cleverly placed steps at the beginning will make a difference.”
Calling space tourism a “multibillion dollar market,” Anderson asked state leaders to provide his company with facilities, tax incentives and help negotiating the thicket of federal and military regulations regarding use of air space for a rocket launch.
Anderson casually mentioned that New Mexico has offered to help companies like his with insurance coverage. Space Adventures is also considering sites in Texas, Oklahoma, California and Nevada. In Florida, the company is looking at the possibility of basing its suborbital flights out of Kennedy, as well as Eglin Air Force Base in the Panhandle, Cecil Field in Jacksonville and Homestead Air Force Base in South Florida.
“Space tourism will create thousands if not tens of thousands of jobs,” Anderson promised. “And it’s not as dependent (as NASA) on the ups and downs of government funding.”
Though the flights, which will rocket tourists more than 62 miles into space where they’ll enjoy up to 10 minutes of weightlessness, won’t start until 2008, Anderson said his company is “accepting reservations today.”