Summer Vacation Etiquette – Part 6: Outer Space Travel

Outer Space Etiquette

Would you like spend your vacation – or at least part of it – on the Moon? That might be possible if a company called Space Adventures, Ltd., has its way; the company is one of a growing number of businesses focused on offering private citizens seats on space capsules for travel in outer space. So, while we’re on the subject of vacation etiquette and summer travel, in honor of the 43rd anniversary of the U.S. Moon Landing on July 20, 1969, I’m devoting this entry to the future of commercial space travel and evolving outer space etiquette.

For more than a decade, space tourism pioneers have been donning space suits and experiencing the vacation trip of a lifetime. In 2001, American Dennis Tito became the first paying customer on board the Russian space capsule, Soyuz, on a flight to the International Space Station, followed in 2002 by another pioneer of space tourism, South African Mark Shuttleworth. If successful, this trend toward private space travel could dramatically expand a whole new private tourism industry, resulting in a high demand for astronauts and cosmonauts to not only staff the flights but to prepare civilian tourists for space travel and exploration.

This development will also require a whole new set of etiquette rules!

My online LinkedIn colleague, Sherry Thomas of Palm Beach Etiquette and Life Skills, pointed out an article, entitled, An Astronaut’s Guide to Space Etiquette, which prompted this post as part of my Summer Vacation Etiquette series. It will be important for anyone who is planning to take a trip on a commercial space shuttle someday to ensure that they learn the relevant etiquette and protocol.

For example, in addition to vacation travel you might find yourself space shuttling to a business meeting or even a job interview. What will you wear? Adding appropriate pieces of space shuttle attire to your clothing collection gives new meaning to the term, “capsule wardrobe.” It is hoped that designers will come up with some fresh ideas for spacesuit fashion.

And, what about electronic devices? No longer will we be concerned with merely misplacing them, but possibly even letting go of them at all. Just envision a collection of iPhones, iPads, iPods, Kindles and Nooks floating around and bumping into each other in a weightless environment. Will we be able to summon them with our personal voiceprints? Or will we have to handcuff them to ourselves? Surely, even now Apple, Google and Microsoft are working on ideas. On a positive note, while spacewalking you probably won’t hear the devices go off or the conversations of other astronaut tourists! Let’s hope by the time you are flying to the Moon, NASA and the private space tourism companies will have this figured out. After all, on the final mission of the U.S. Space Shuttle Program an iPhone was on board for the first time.

As for astronaut dining etiquette, I can already see some changes occurring. For example, placing your elbows on the table might become necessary to anchor yourself to the table. You might have to tuck your napkin into your shirt – or tie it around your neck like a kerchief – to keep it from floating away. Waiters will have to retrieve wayward forks and napkins from the ceiling rather than the floor. It could turn dining etiquette upside down – in a manner of speaking.

So, this Friday, July 20, 2012, you can mark the day by happily contemplating a time when you’ll be able to land on the Moon as a tourist. Back on that day in 1969, I marked the U.S. Moon Landing by participating in a parade celebrating the American achievement in Buenos Aires, where I was visiting with friends. Sixteen years later my husband and I celebrated July 20th for another reason: the birth of our daughter, Carolyn. This July 20th our dear friends, Shane and Heath, will be celebrating in a field of flowers in Colorado as their son, Drew, exchanges marriage vows with his love, Kelly.

However you celebrate July 20th this year, I hope the day finds you over the moon – in a manner of speaking.

Please join me next Tuesday as I resume discussing earthly topics in my series on Summer Vacation Etiquette!

Until next time,



One thought on “Summer Vacation Etiquette – Part 6: Outer Space Travel

  1. shane says:

    Love your blog! Who ever thought we would be talking about your average, non-astronaut person going into space. Our son, Mark, went to Space Camp many years ago, I;m sure he'd love to go for real. Meanwhile, I am definitely over the moon about our upcoming son's wedding. I think that's about as close as I'll get..


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