Figuring the time is right, Lisl Griffin is taking commercial passenger reservations on NASA’s space shuttle for a three-day low-orbit package leaving in the mid-1990s. The fare is $1 million.
For the economy-minded, the Newport Beach Lido Travel manager is also offering a 12-hour, six-orbit trip aboard a private commercial spacecraft for $50,000. Its departure date is Oct. 12, 1992 (exactly 500 years after Columbus discovered America). It will carry 20 passengers.
“For a lot of people, money is no object,” said Griffin, who claims she has a foreign client who wants to send his son on the $1-million jaunt. “We have a lot of wealthy people looking for unusual trips.”
The trips with NASA and the private spacecraft are being promoted by Society Expeditions, a Seattle travel agency that claims NASA’s department of commercialization is giving serious consideration to this entrepreneurial adventure.
“This follows the thoughts of President Reagan, who said he wants private enterprise to find commercial values from space,” said agency President Theodore Charles Swartz in a telephone interview. “There are 20,000 travel agencies in the United States just waiting for this. It’s going to be big.”
The way Swartz explains it, the private spacecraft will be a more reasonable way to go. “We know it costs $74 million to light the candle of the space shuttle, but we figure with thousands of people willing to take the flight on the private spacecraft, our cost will be about $100,000 per liftoff.”
Griffin believes that commercial space trips will become a reality and that “taking reservations is not just fun and games. Five years ago PanAm was taking names for travel in space, and I made a reservation.”