23 September 2011

TRAVEL, journalism, media, shopping and “the experience of space” will be among key drivers of the post-Shuttle space travel industry, according to new international research to be presented this month.

These findings by a joint Australian-US university research team led by University of Queensland researcher Dr John Cokley, will be presented at this month’s 100 Year Starship Study Public Symposium (September 30-October 2) in Orlando, Florida.

The symposium, mounted by the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and NASA’s Ames Research Centre, is expected to attract roughly 2000 people from throughout the US and internationally.

Dr Cokley’s team includes aviation management expert Professor William Rankin of the University of Central Missouri, UQ’s Dr Pauline Heinrich, and design doctoral candidate Ms Marisha McAuliffe of the Queensland University of Technology.

Drs Cokley and Heinrich are based in the UQ School of Journalism & Communication.

“Most people think that space exploration is only driven by engineers and space rock scientists,” Dr Cokley said.

“But our research over the past three years strongly suggests that space tourism and space travel writing, as well as the infrastructure that surrounds the space tourism business – spaceports and terminal retail outlets – are also strong economic, as well as emotional, drivers for the industry.”

The research included personal interviews with the CEOs of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space travel company.

Dr Cokley and Professor Rankin have worked closely and published together on space research since 2004, and Dr Cokley and Ms McAuliffe have just published an article in the Journal of Futures Studies on a teaching innovation for students using a space-station scenario built in the online Second Life environment.

Media: Contact Dr Cokley in Australia on j.cokley@uq.edu.au, or (Skype JOHNCOKLEY)

Contact Professor Rankin, wrankin@ucmo.edu, in the US 660-543-4455 (Office), 954-806-9840 (cell)