Fields of Dreams

Will starry-eyed entrepreneurs transform today’s wide-open spaces into tomorrow’s spaceports?

Spaceport Singapore, envisioned by Space Adventures, Ltd., would cost $115 million. A Singapore-based consortium and the Crown Prince of Ras Al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates are backing the venture. (Space Adventures)
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In the end, whether spaceports will be a bubble or a business will be determined by the reliability of the spacecraft involved and by the space tourists’ ability to tolerate risk. Plenty of people engage in dangerous sports such as mountain climbing, untethered rock climbing, and BASE jumping, an extreme hobby in which a person jumps from a Building, Antenna, Span (such as a bridge), or point of Earth (such as a cliff), and opens a parachute on the way down. BASE jumping has had its share of fatalities (the latest occurred last October, when an experienced BASE jumper died moments after leaping from New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia), but the sport, and the deaths, continue. Maybe the same will hold true of private manned rocket flights.

So are spaceports the wave of the future, the next big growth industry? The only safe, sane, and sensible answer is: Nobody knows. As physicist Niels Bohr used to say: “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”

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