Space Tourism: What’s the Big Deal?

Written by: Jason Garoutte

Privatized space travel or space tourism has become the new frontier in adventure and exploration, especially since NASA’s space program isn’t quite what it used to be. It is expected to become a billion dollar industry within the next decade, even though the cost of one of these adventures is as high as 40 million dollars.

So, what kind of adventure can you expect with that kind of money? Depending on the company, that kind of money will earn you an eight to eleven day trip to the International Space Station. Sounds great right? Sure, the view is one in a million, but if I’m going to spend 40 million dollars, I’d better be sipping Mai Tai’s on one of Saturn’s rings!

That will not happen. Not in my lifetime, especially not a journalist’s salary. For those that are ultra-wealthy, a trip to the heavens may just be the ultimate adventure. But would it be worth it?

Space Tourism

Only one spacecraft has ever traveled to the outer planets and it is unmanned. The Voyager 1 spacecraft, which was launched in 1977, is still traveling the outer limits of our solar system to this day. It is traveling at a speed of 3.6 Astronomical Units per year. An Astronomical Unit is defined as 92, 955, 807 miles or roughly the distance the Earth is from the Sun. Once the numbers are crunched, Voyager 1 is traveling at a staggering speed of 38, 179 m.p.h. Wow!

Companies like Space Adventures only have aircraft designed to travel up to speeds of Mach 3, which equates to approximately 2,250 m.p.h. So, should you want those Mai Tai’s with Saturn as your backdrop, it would take 50 years just to get there. And you thought the flight from Los Angeles to New York was long!

There is a bit of hope, should you just want to brag about traveling into space. These privatized companies are offering suborbital flights at only $200,000 per passenger. With that you will receive a two hour flight above the Kàrmàn Line, which is defined as the boundary of space at an altitude of 62 miles above Earth’s sea level. You will also experience three to six minutes of weightlessness and that one in a million view of our blue planet. Just don’t forget your camera.

If that sounds like an appealing adventure, then by all means, spend that hard earned money, travel to the heavens, and return with some amazing vacation photos. For those of us with meager salaries and average jobs, the closest we’ll probably ever get to the planets is through the lens of our backyard telescope.

Tourists experiencing zero gravity.

Tourists experiencing zero gravity.

 

Nightlife in Paris

Written by: Michael Arnold

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower at Sunset

Every year thousands of tourists flock to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower, trek through the decorated halls of the Louvre, and marvel at the fantastic gardens of Versailles. The “city of love,” however, contains much more than meets the eye. Paris has a wild nightlife that is often overshadowed by its famous museums and monuments.

For a rather low price, one can easily find a venue that combines the glam of New York and the ease of the Greek Islands.

Le Duplex, a 2-floor underground club just a few blocks from the Arc de Triomphe, hosts different themed parties every night of the week throughout the year. One can expect crowds to arrive around 11:30 p.m. and party until the sun rises.

The lines move quickly, the staff is always friendly, and the entrance fee – which includes 2 drinks – is usually only 10 euro! Inside of the club one can find several DJs playing all different genres of music. Awesome light shows illuminate the place throughout the night creating a mind-blowing atmosphere.

Another gem on the outskirts of the city is Café Oz at Denfert Rochereau. This Australian themed bar turns into a bass pumping club when the sun goes down.  At around 11 p.m. the staff moves the tables in the center of the room creating a dance floor, and by midnight the Aussie bar is, quite literally, packed.

Café Oz

Party at Café Oz

If the typical nightlife experience is not enough, Paris has plenty of clubs that are off the beaten path. Les Chandelles, a club with the facade of a dungeon, admits an unusual clientele. Ordinarily women arrive in lingerie or provocative outerwear. Men are encouraged not to come alone, as this club is known to be one of the more selective in the city.

The interior lives up to its name – translating to “the candles”- as the room is strewn about with hundreds of candles. It is adorned with chic bedroom furniture that creates an intimate ambiance.

While venues like Les Chandelles are certainly not for everyone, some prefer not to attend clubs at all. Luckily for these types, Paris itself transforms into a different place at night. During warm weather months, Parisians congregate along the River Seine with wine – which is often cheaper than bottled water – and cheese.

Friends gather to eat and drink and watch street performers or admire the magnificent architecture on all sides of them. In the summer, high class Parisians commandeer boat parties that circle the Seine all night long, as commoners look on from bridges and streets.

Regardless of the season, Paris is a wonderful and multi-faceted city. Its incredible cultural attributes need no explanation, and its nightlife scene far surpasses that of many other cities.

No wonder it’s the most visited place in Europe!

A couple drinks on the River Seine

Drinks at sunset

Arizona’s Strict Immigration Laws Decrease State Tourism

Arizona Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon

Arizona’s strict, new immigration laws may hurt the travel and tourism industries in the Grand Canyon state as companies, civil rights activists, cities, and states boycott Arizona in response to its new laws.  Arizona’s new immigration law authorizes authorities to stop anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant and demand to see proof of citizenship on the spot.  Mayor Michael Coleman of Columbus, Ohio is one of the most recent politicians to ban state-funded travel to Arizona.  His decision is based upon his disapproval of racial profiling.  Other cities that have boycotted travel to the state of Arizona include Seattle, WA; San Diego, CA; Los Angeles, CA and St. Paul, MN. 

David Krietor, the deputy city manager of Phoenix, AZ has expressed his belief that the boycotts could cause his city to lose over $90 million over the next 5 years.  Factors contributing to these losses include a decrease in conventions taking place in Phoenix, Arizona as well as a reduction in tourism.  These fears are not insubstantial.  In the 1990’s, when the Arizona refused to recognize Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday, it lost the bid for the 1993 Super Bowl.  Despite these fears, proponents of Arizona’s new immigration law in other states will most likely not be discouraged from visiting Arizona’s natural wonders such as the Grand Canyon and the Saguaro National Forest.