During the Autumn 2019 Equinox, Les Roches Marbella became the epicenter of space and underwater tourism as it hosted the Space & Underwater Tourism Universal Summit (SUTUS), a pioneering event that brought leading international experts together to discuss the two biggest challenges of luxury tourism: the cosmos and the seas.
The first day of the two-day conference featured Tony Gannon, Vice President of Research and Innovation of the American aerospace group, “Space Florida”, and Sam Scimemi, Director of the International Space Station (ISS) at NASA headquarters. Outer space tourism is a forward-thinking sector that not only faces the challenges of tomorrow but, in its pursuit, responds to the challenges of today.
Under the title “Beyond natural borders”, the event was jointly organized by Les Roches Marbella and Medina Media Events with the institutional support of EXTENDA (Andalusian Agency for Foreign Promotion), and Tourism and Planning Costa del Sol, and the Marbella town hall. The conference, attended by over 250 guests, explored new territories and avant-garde business models in these evolving luxury tourism sectors. Space and underwater tourism offer a unique future opportunity for a global tourism industry that mobilizes more than 1.3 billion travelers per year. The nascent space and underwater sectors are continuously innovating to meet the demands of a growing luxury sector whose desire to pursue the unknown have seen successful companies emerge.
Félix Romero, First Deputy Mayor of Marbella, Margarita Del Cid, Second Vice President of the Diputación de Málaga, and Nuria Rodríguez, Territorial Delegate of Tourism, Regeneration, Justice and Local Administration of the Junta de Andalucía, highlighted the importance of this pioneering event that places Marbella and the Costa del Sol at the forefront of innovation in tourism.
Carlos Díez de la Lastra, CEO of Les Roches Marbella, opened the summit to a full auditorium, eager to learn about the possibilities afforded in space and underwater tourism. He pointed out that “tourism is one of the most active industries worldwide, with infinite possibilities and we have two areas to yet to be explored: one is below our feet and the other is above our heads. SUTUS will be the beginning of the discovery of a sector that is still taking shape in the same way that other travel and tourism sectors such as cruise ships had done in the past. The companies and organizations taking part in SUTUS are developing real projects, with tickets already sold to people with a desire for adventure and the means to make it happen.”
Space Florida, incentivizing private space travel
Tony Gannon, Vice President of Research and Innovation of the North American aerospace cluster “Space Florida”, based in Cape Canaveral, is a key player in the space consortium responsible for boosting private space travel. Space Florida is the aerospace economic development agency of the State of Florida and its main mission is to attract talent and expand the next generation of aerospace companies, including firms such as Honeywell, Boeing, Airbus, or Blue Origin, among many others.
The agency, the main point of contact for all functions related to Florida’s space-travel industry, serves and facilitates the financing of projects born in both the civil, military and commercial sectors. More than 17,144 industry-related companies already contribute $19 billion in revenue to the Florida economy. Gannon said that “the tourism sector should not be oblivious to the opportunities that Space Florida represents for the development of luxury tourist trips to outer space and the job opportunities that this implies”.
Sam Scimemi, Tourism on the Space Station
Sam Scimemi, Director of the International Space Station (ISS) at NASA headquarters, put the finishing touch to the first day of SUTUS 2019, by sharing NASA’s vision to achieve a robust Low Earth Orbit economy (LEO), as a means to fomenting more advances in space.
NASA’s plan addresses a policy of commercial use and prices for the International Space Station that will allow companies to reduce uncertainty and develop business plans while seeking commercial activities, including the implementation of tourist trips. The fare is around $ 35,000 per night (stay only), which should be added to the price of the trip, which at NASA is about $80 million per traveler.
In addition, NASA has announced its plans to allow the flight of private astronauts to the ISS with the first mission starting in 2020. The aim is to enable private astronauts who exceed the necessary requirements to undertake the adventure while also performing routine maintenance operations, predetermined commercial activities, and certain promotional activities. “This will be a pioneering way of doing business in space that expands the possibilities for commercial companies to explore different markets, carry out marketing activities or send people to space through space tourism and private astronauts,” Scimemi added.
SUTUS – Day 2
Day two of SUTUS brought together Bernard Foing, head of the European Space Agency‘s International Group of Lunar Exploration, Arthur Paolella, Chief Scientist at Harris Corporation, Ana Bru, the first Spanish woman to travel to space with Virgin Galactic, and Javier Noriega, President of the Marine Maritime Cluster of Andalusia. The speakers opened the audience to new territories that highlighted the most avant-garde business models in luxury tourism. In the words of Carlos Díez de la Lastra, CEO of Les Roches Marbella, “these two borders outside the natural environment of humans are very similar, we know that the first tourist expeditions into space or deep into seas will not be comfortable and will probably not benefit from many amenities, but these first tourists will be the first step of a beautiful and historical exploration into the unknown.”
Bernard Foing on Lunar Exploration
Fifty years after the arrival of humans to the moon, this natural satellite continues to arouse interest on Earth. Bernard Foing, head of the ESA International Lunar Exploration Group, explained during his presentation the importance of having tracking tools and maps of the Moon to establish the conditions and study the impact that a space experience could have on a traveler commercial.
In order to make this type of travel possible, the ESA’s International Group of Lunar Exploration is studying similarly isolated bases on Earth, such as Hawaii, to find solutions to problems like the harmful effects of lunar dust or to search for ideas for the future design of lunar hotels.
Arthur Paolella on 3D Printing Technology
Arthur Paolella, Chief Scientist at Harris Corporation, explained the utilities of 3D technology to address both underwater and spatial challenges, always based on scientific and engineering expertise in high-power materials. 3D printing helps to create instruments necessary to make life possible in space, a technology that allows building components that would normally require much more time in a traditional manufacturing environment. From electronics to medical equipment, spare parts and solutions to possible breakdowns during the stay, 3D printing is a tool that saves space on trips and solves incidents quickly and efficiently. For example, thanks to 3D technology it is possible to make bricks from material obtained from the lunar surface itself, an unprecedented advance for the construction of future habitats and tourist enclosures on other planets.
However, although this technology works on Earth, specialized machines capable of working in aggressive environments such as space must be developed. The devices must also survive exposure and the performance of materials over time must adapt to the conditions offered by space, ultraviolet radiation, extreme temperatures or the impacts of micrometeorites and orbital debris, which can damage the material.
Nancy Vermeulen, Space Training Academy Experience
Nancy Vermeulen, a graduate in Physical Sciences, a commercial pilot and coach, trains future space tourists before starting their adventure by offering them the opportunity to feel weightlessness and to experience a realistic space flight from the Space Training Academy in Belgium. The courses, lasting one month, are composed of different modules that can be taken in their entirety for a price of 15,000 euros, or individually. A flight to experience zero gravity, for example, is around 3,500 euros.
“Private astronauts must be trained, not only physically, but also psychologically, through training that brings them closer to real experience and generates realistic expectations of what they can find,” said the pilot, a fact Ana Bru knows first hand as the first Spanish woman to travel to space with Virgin Galactic. Ana’s experience was supported by another civil astronaut, Eduardo Lurueña and Ángel Jané, selected as a candidate to establish a colony on Mars within the «Mars One» program. The three shared their experiences and goals during a panel discussion at the culmination of the event’s speakers.
The underwater world, a new vision
Javier Noriega, president of the Marine Maritime Cluster of Andalusia began his presentation stating that “the marine environment is a cosmos more unknown than much of the universe. Underwater travel is already a reality and yet it needs greater institutional support to gain notoriety.” An impactful development is needed to encourage underwater tourism in Spain, a country with more than 3,000 kilometers of coastline and more than 3,000 years of maritime history. From visits to archaeological sites at the bottom of the sea to underwater routes that teach the diversity of marine biology, an opportunity to launch scientific tourism is emerging that is not limited to those with unlimited financial means. This sector is also providing opportunities for a new demographic segment: people with disabilities. In the sea, many people can participate in activities otherwise made impossible on land. Underwater tourism, in short, offers unique experiences at really competitive prices, in which diving excursions can cost as little as 90 euros.
The viability and access to these underwater worlds were buttressed by Michele Stefanile underwater archaeologist at the University of Naples “L’Orientale”, Jose Antonio Moya, science journalist and professor of audiovisual communication at the Universidad de Alicante, and Carlos Zambrano, Lecturer in Master of Nautical and Underwater Archaeology, at the Universidad de Cádiz.
Pisces VI Submarine, exploring the deepest depths
Scott Waters is the president of Pisces VI Submarine, a company that owns one of the world’s deepest diving private submarines and whose financing is obtained thanks to tourism and contributions from scientific investigative teams. Its vessels descend more than 2,100 meters, have space for 1 pilot and 2 observers. Pisces VI’s size allows it to adapt to the containers of ships, reducing transport costs and flexibility to explore the world. “Every time I have descended to the furthest depths, I have seen at least one species that nobody in history has ever seen. From Pisces VI we want to take people to places where no human has been before,” said Waters. Through his efforts to make this proposal possible for more people, the price for such an adventure on one-day dives from their facilities in Vancouver, Canada costs about 12,000 euros. For those adventurers who wish to live an experience of this type, Pisces VI’s next destination is Antarctica on a 25-day trip at a price of €50,000. There will be 5 selected tourists who will go in search of new life forms and unique life-experiences deep into the sea where no one has gone before.
The first Space and Underwater Tourism Universal Summit at Les Roches Marbella laid the groundwork for an ambitious journey beyond natural borders. The success of this groundbreaking conference, it is hoped, will inspire others to explore new frontiers while developing new and innovative means to make their dreams a reality. From this date forward, SUTUS intends to be the place where space and underwater tourism converge each year to discuss advances and challenges in these exciting new sectors.
A Special Thank You to SUTUS Collaborators
It is with great appreciation that Les Roches honors the various collaborators whose contributions played a vital role in the success of SUTUS 2019. Freixenet for their exquisite cavas which made the perfect complement to a celebration of this caliber, to Jose Antonio Nieto of The Aroma Trace for designing the exclusive Ozone room scent for SUTUS, and to Platinum Fragrances for providing a selection of colorful sparkling wines that were literally out of this world. Les Roches also would like to thank 3IN-Tech, Stega Studio, and 2FEEL 3D for providing the virtual reality demo entertainment to the guests at SUTUS. And finally, thank you to Foro Maritimo, Clúster Marítimo Marino de Andalucía, Alanda Hotel Marbella, Vivi Marbella, Bodegas Lara, and Sommelier Vinos