Become A Space Tourist Finally Can Sign Your Life Away
Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’s Space Launch Company, has announced that it will sell its first flights to microgravity to highest bidder. Blue Origin, along with its biggest competitors in space tourism, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic claim that they are advancing humanity by democratizing space. These joyride are not opening space access for everyone.
The Changing Landscape Space
Space tourism is an exciting prospect. It promises a quicker path to space than that taken by astronauts who must complete rigorous training, higher education and compete for selection. Because few countries have human spaceflight programs, astronauts must have the right nationality.
The opening of commercial spaceflight should, in theory, make space more democratic and accessible. This is not true in all cases. What was once the exclusive domain of the wealthiest countries is now dominate by commercial entities.
These companies can take greater risks than government programs, because they don’t have to justify spending or failings to the public. Blue Origin and SpaceX both have witnessed many explosions during past tests. Yet, fans are more excited than dismay.
This has led to rapid advancement of space technologies. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, which has just completed its tenth successful launch, is a reusable rocket that has lowered the cost of launching by tenfold. Reusable technology not only reduces costs but also solves the problem of sustainability.
Considering Sustainability Space
Since 1957 when the Soviets launched the first human-made object (Sputnik I), there have been thousands upon thousands of launches. Except for Falcon 9, every launch vehicle was use once and dispose off immediately, much like an aeroplane being thrown away after one flight.
With 114 launches in 2020, the number of launches is increasing every year. The uncontrolled reentry by debris from China’s Long March 5B rocket was a major news story because of its size and potential for damage. This is only one example of the issues of space debris management and traffic management.
Safety is an important issue in human spaceflight. There are currently approximately 3,400 satellites and 128 million pieces debris in orbit. Each day there are hundreds of possible collisions. Operators can avoid them by costly and complicated maneuvers, or wait for the best if they are at low enough risk.
Countries will have to impose stricter requirements on satellites that are de-orbit at the end of their life, in order to ensure they do not burn up upon reentry, if we increase human spaceflight. It is acceptable to either de-orbit a satellite after 25 years or to place a satellite in an unoccupied orbit. This only slows down the problem for the future.
Nations will also have to follow the 2019 United Nations Guidelines on the Long-term Sustainability Activities in Outer Space.
Another important aspect of launch operations is their environmental impact. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 burns more fuel than an average car over 200 years for one launch.
There are many impacts on the ground, including waterways and terrain. These should be considered when we build future Australian launch sites. Launch permits require that environmental impact statements be completed, but they should also include long-term effects as well as carbon footprints.
How To Keep Billionaires Under Control
It will be vital for independent spaceflight companies in the future to be strictly regulate. Virgin Galactic has advocated for a shirtsleeve environment. Where customers can enjoy the luxury of spaceflight without being restricted by uncomfortable spacesuits. Spaceflight is still dangerous, as evidenced by the 2014 death of one its test pilots. Comfort requires more caution and greater safety at high altitudes.
While space tourism regulators like the US Federal Aviation Administration have stringent safety standards, spacesuits that are pressurize are not. But they should. Space tourism operators may require passengers to sign waivers of liability in the event of an accident.
While it is admirable that Blue Origin and SpaceX are making technological leaps in the right direction. Their business plans do not reflect diversity, inclusion, or global accessibility. All of the first space tourists were entrepreneurs. Dennis Tito purchased a seat aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket in 2001 to visit the International Space Station (ISS). Eight more space tourists have paid between US$20 million-US$30 million to fly through Russia since then.