According to the Society: “Our mission is to unite enthusiasts on a local, national and global level and to inspire innovation and creativity in providing space experiences for all. STS Canada strives to acquire financial, political and public support to make space tourism available to the general population in the near future.”
Thanks for your time Jeremy. When did you first get interested in Space exploration?
When I was teenager – I lived in Winnipeg Beach, which has a population of approximately 1000 people. We lived in the country, and so I always looked up at stars. The Ansari X-Prize in 1996 was what really got me interested. I went to college and took Electronics. I wanted to head into the field of Aerospace, so I went to Carleton University’s Aerospace Engineering program. I currently work at Boeing in Winnipeg, and previously worked at Bombardier in Montreal.
What’s your current involvement in the field?
I learned about the Space Tourism Society and emailed [founder] John Spencer in California. I was surprised to hear there was no Canadian chapter [in 2009]. So I started one. For a few years it was small, meeting monthly…we didn’t get established until this year when some ISU [International Space University] alumni came on board, and we setup a board of directors, advisors, and events.
Do you think Canadians in general are interested in space exploration?
Definitely. A lot of people are interested, but to what level? It depends on how you present it to them. For example The Planetary Society has a very polished and organized presentation and has lots of members. You have to find something that grabs their interest, for example Chris Hadfield’s social media use.
What more do you think can be done by your organization such as yours to educate and interest the public?
A lot of people think [space is] out of bounds – but examples like Chris Hadfield’s bring it back to earth. A lot of people don’t realize how close we are to [public] space travel. The safety aspect is the big aspect. That’s why it takes so long – for example the Ansari XPrize was only won in 2004.
Did you see the movie Gravity?
I liked it. There could have been more action! Also, when she is running out of oxygen – why does she keep talking? [Laughter] It will help popularize space, it’s a prime example. People think space is for nerds – [movies like Gravity] help to translate it to laymans terms.
What are your thoughts on the New Space concept – businesses such as Virgin Galactic or Xcor?
Within 5 years the first flights will occur, provided everything is safe. It will lead to increased interest. In 2001, I was at the 10th anniversary celebration dinner in California for Dennis Tito’s space flight. I met two people from XCOR- they were very passionate about what they do. That’s what draws you in.
How do they change space tourism?
If it is not comfortable, if is not very cheap, it has to be a special experience – the view that you are paying for might be very quick [less than an hour for some flights, including 10 minutes for weightlessness]. Having destinations [in space] would help – for example space stations or hotels.
Do you think social media can help interest the public?
Any way to get the word out. Chris Hadfield almost managed to demystify space using social media.
Does space tourism require government involvement and if so how?
I think government involvement is required for making safety regulations. In regards to funding, the prime example is the XPrize, which had no involvement from government. I think the Space tourism sector can be self-sufficient.
Thanks for your insights, Jeremy.