The comments from America [“Falling Short On Facts, Vision,” letter, Nov. 23, page 18] and Europe [“An Inconvenient Truth About Space Tourism,” letter, Dec. 7, page 18] that you received about the commentary “Space Tourism is a Hoax” by Fredrick Engstrom and Heinz Pfeffer [Nov. 16, page 19] seem to fiercely disagree about the future of space tourism.

I would suggest both parties are correct from their points of view.

In my opinion, the discrepancy exists because the European space industry is used to receiving huge institutional subventions for its space activities while in America the space tourism pioneers have what I would call the “Yankee approach,” acting according to the philosophy, “Let’s give it a whirl.” If it works out, you can make a lot of money; if not, you lose a lot. Without this approach, we would discuss the same questions 40 years from now.

And contrary to the “Inconvenient Truth” letter, Harry O. Ruppe, my Ph.D. adviser and mentor, was never laughed at. In fact, I know he would have enjoyed a (reasonable) tourist ride to space himself.


Joachim J. Kehr

Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany