For those that think Virgin Galactic’s “space tourism” is a venial use of technology for the idle rich, I’d like to remind them that it is just stepping stone to space travel for the rest of us. And that Space Tourism is a noble endeavor. Especially when it’s narrated by Carl Sagan, backed by a ‘new age’ soundtrack.
Unless we find some rare substance (ie. Unobtainium) on another planet, or this world really becomes so crappy that we’re forced to leave it, it just doesn’t make sense economic to colonize another world. All the hype about potential economic and scientific benefits for building ISS (the International Space Station) never materialized and even if they did (eg. growing purer silica crystals for faster chipsets) it only makes sense in micro-gravity, not on another planet like Mars. Mining natural gas on Jupiter makes about as much economic sense as driving your car to another continent to change your motor oil there.
Tourism is the most feasible economic driver for building interplanetary spacecraft that can carry ‘ordinary’ people. Not unlike a real version of Disney’s “Star Tours” with thousands of visitors paying +$100 day to visit a fictional interstellar destination.