Expert: Space Tourism Will Be Boon to Biomedical Research

Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo with SpaceShipTwo (credit: Virgin Galactic)
Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo with SpaceShipTwo (credit: Virgin Galactic)

The emerging space tourism industry will prove to be a boon to microgravity biomedical research, the CEO of a space research company said on Wednesday.

John Cassanto, CEO of Instrrument Technology Associates, told participants at the Space Investment Summit 6 that it would be very easy to put an experiment rack in the passenger compartment of the tourism vehicles now under development.

The market for drugs that would stop cancer metastasizing is huge,” Cassanto said at the conference, which is being held outside of Orlando.

Currently, researchers are limited to flying experiments on parabolic aircraft flights, sounding rockets and the International Space Station. However, parabolic flights are limited to about 30 seconds of weightlessness, while flights on rockets and on ISS are expensive.

The space tourism industry will increase opportunities and lower costs. Cassanto said he expects some millionauts will want to conduct experiments during their flights. The training is not complicated. “It’s not rocket science,” he said.

Cassanto criticized the government’s decision to end space shuttle flights next year, saying it would limit the ability to send experiments to the International Space Station just as the orbiting laboratory is being completed.