Astronaut Advice for Future Space Tourists

Astronaut Advice for Future Space Tourists
Three-time spacewalker Tom Jones is seen here toiling outside the ISS and Atlantis shuttle during NASA's STS-98 mission in 2001. (Image credit: NASA/Space Adventures.)

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- Space travelers just want to have fun.

Accordingto several veteran shuttle astronauts, future space tourists should carefullyplan their out-of-this-world experience. Plot out your favorite free-fallactivities, carefully select your camera gear--but don't hog the window!

Apanel of U.S. astronauts--each a member of the Association of Space Explorers--offeredtheir advice for commercial space travelers at the 2nd InternationalSymposium for Personal Spaceflight, held here as prelude to the Wirefly X PrizeCup competitions slated for October 20-21 at the Las Cruces InternationalAirport.

"Life Changing Experience"

Formershuttle astronaut, Tom Jones, said that space travel has been a "life changingexperience" for those that have been privileged to work in space. "It ranksright up there with getting married or watching your children being born."

Jonestoo said that anybody taking a space voyage must make the most of thatexperience. There's nothing like falling around the planet every 90 minutes at5 miles per second, he remarked.

Onesuggestion from Jones is don't monopolize the window.

Spaceis "strange but wonderful", Jones explained, spotlighting thethree-dimensional, physical freedom afforded anybody in microgravity. "Make themost of it. For the first time in your life you'll be able to juggle in manycases," he observed.

Spacetourists should make a "to do" list before they depart Earth, whether its daysof orbital flight or 10 minutes of suborbital weightlessness. Be it playingwith water, or tossing candy around, or just having face time at the spaceshipwindow--"make a list and make a plan," Jones suggested.

Prioritize your activities

Fromastronaut Leroy Chiao, there are several key things to consider if you're readyfor personal space travel.

"Youcan't really simulate it on the ground," Chiao said. "You can't really preparefor what it's really going to be like."

Still,as for key tips, Chiao said an orbital space tourist should think ahead aboutwhat they're going to do and prioritize their activities.

"Youwon't believe how quickly a week will go by," Chiao said. "Take the time toenjoy the view. The Earth everywhere is beautiful." [See Leroy Chaio's Top 10 Images from Space here.]

Practice, practice, practice

Shuttleastronaut Mario Runco recommended studying your geology before heading off intosuborbital or orbital space. Depending on your trek, prepare yourself for the landscapesyou'll be cruising over.

Runcoprovided a tutorial on the right cameras to haul into space, f-stops, shutterspeeds--but also underscored that a space tourist before blastoff needs to"practice, practice, practice" using photography gear.

"Getyou camera, buy the lenses, practice on the ground...take hundreds of photographsof your children, cars in traffic," Runco advised, all to hone your picturetaking skills.

Givendigital camera technology of the day, it's far easier to sharpen youcamera-snapping techniques.

"Yousee your picture, you know what you did wrong...then take another one under verysimilar conditions," Runco explained. But his bottom line suggestion: "Ifyou're going to go through this effort [of space travel]...don't take a happysnap camera up there."

Chiaosaid that space sickness--experienced by many space travelers in the past--is nowbeing handled successfully via medications.

"Igo up into problem and I feel great" Chaio said. "It's when I comeback it takes me a little while to get over the queasiness and dizziness."

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Leonard David
Space Insider Columnist

Leonard David is an award-winning space journalist who has been reporting on space activities for more than 50 years. Currently writing as's Space Insider Columnist among his other projects, Leonard has authored numerous books on space exploration, Mars missions and more, with his latest being "Moon Rush: The New Space Race" published in 2019 by National Geographic. He also wrote "Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet" released in 2016 by National Geographic. Leonard  has served as a correspondent for SpaceNews, Scientific American and Aerospace America for the AIAA. He has received many awards, including the first Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History in 2015 at the AAS Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium. You can find out Leonard's latest project at his website and on Twitter.