An 84 year old Melbourne businessman, who has already conquered the North Pole and South Pole, is set to become Australia’s first ‘space tourist’. Nigel Peck will be blasting off in 2014, paying $100,000 for a ride which only lasts 15 minutes. The founder of manufacturing and distribution company NHP Electrical Products is so excited about the project that he has also bought some shares in the Dutch company that is responsible for the flight.
Mr Peck will be setting off from the Hato International Airport in the Caribbean, on the first commercial flight that is available. This will ensure that he will be one of the first tourists to arrive in space. Despite this, Mr Peck joked that he would ‘make sure there are at least a dozen’ before him.
Mr Peck noted that the two seater spacecraft merely travels into weightlessness, as opposed to space. Although there have been machines that can travel much higher, for the purpose of putting down satellites, this would cost around five to ten times more.
Richard Branson is undoubtedly regarded as a pioneer in the sphere of space travel. However, Mr Peck believes that Space Expedition Curacao, the company behind his flight, is also providing innovation. He claims that the aircrafts are much cheaper, allowing for significant reductions in flight costs.
Before undergoing the flight, Mr Peck will be required to complete special training in G Forces and weightlessness. Whilst this may appear strenuous and daunting for many, Mr Peck has always exhibited an adventurous spirit. At the age of 10, he joined an aeroclub. Since then, he has flown on a Concorde twice. He has also flown a Cessna himself, in addition a North American Mustang Fighter.
Mr Peck’s competitive spirit has also been exemplified by his achievements whilst sailing yachts at a competitive level. Mr Peck’s brief explanation as to why he is venturing into space exemplifies his competitive, adventurous nature. He noted that ‘I want to go to space because it’s there. I like doing interesting things’.
Despite his age, Mr Peck insists that he will not be winding down, in the foreseeable future. Instead of relaxing once he progressed to his 70’s, he started searching for more adventures. Surprisingly, he believes that he is now in his most adventurous state; ‘I only started doing it (adventure) really when I got into my 70s’.
In relation to the extensive costs related to space tourism, Mr Peck believes the experience justifies the cost. However, he recognises that this is only the case if space travel is important to you. ‘I suppose you have all these freaks in the world that spend a lot of money on different things and it’s just because they’re interested and they like to do it’, he said.
The excitement that surrounds this flight demonstrates the growth of interest in the field of space tourism. An increasing number of commercial enterprises are entering the field and space tourism is generating more publicity than before. From this week onwards, space flights will be sold to the wider public in Australia, as a representative from Space Expedition Curacao is travelling there to increase the uptake of flights.