We examine the expanding commercial space industry and question whether there are more advantages than disadvantages to making space a tourism destination. Although the concept of space tourism is not entirely new, the race to advance commercial space flight has advanced significantly in the last year. Wealthy people now have the opportunity to try their hand at space travel since NASA, formerly the center of the space industry, is taking its time to make commercial space flight a reality. Despite being an intriguing concept in principle, space tourism is not without its detractors. Today, we'll examine the benefits and drawbacks of space tourism, pose inquiries about the billionaire space race, and consider if it will usher in a new era or cause a global ecological disaster.
What is space tourism?
You might be asking what exactly distinguishes space tourism from other forms of space travel. The major distinction is that space tourism refers to human space flight for pleasure or amusement. As is the case with all tourism, the primary goal is therefore for human enjoyment. There are three types of space tourism: orbital, suborbital, and lunar. As it enables a rocket to orbit the Earth, orbital space tourism requires extremely high speeds ; in contrast, suborbital trips are much slower, though still 3,700 mph, and often travel straight up into space before returning to Earth. Space tourism businesses more frequently offer suborbital flights. Lunar space tourism entails lunar missions. Although there are other broader definitions of space tourism, such as taking in stargazing or rocket launches, we'll be concentrating on commercial space flight in this article because it has the most significant repercussions.
So when did space tourism start exactly? A Russian Soyuz rocket carried American businessman Dennis Tito to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 30, 2001. He invested $20 million to realize his vision, which is similar to how space tourism is currently developing, with the wealthiest individuals leading the way. Seven more space travelers were flown to the International Space Station by Russian Soyuz rockets between 2001 and 2009 as part of Space Adventures, with each ticket costing a comparable 20–25 million US dollars. However, due to a growing demand for ISS members to have seats on the spacecraft, Russia stopped orbital space tourism in 2010. Up until 2021, this was the last we will see of space travel.
Yes is the simplest response to this query. Commercial space travel is now quite exclusive, and there are no immediate plans to change this. Both Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin successfully launched suborbital spacecraft carrying tourists from their spaceports in July 2021, making it a historic month. We'll go into more depth about the three businesses below when we look at their hopes for the future of commercial spaceflight. Each of these businesses aspires to eventually offer regular space travel chances to paying private clients.
Now that you are aware of the current state of space travel, let's explore both the positive and negative effects. We'll start by talking about the benefits of space travel and why so many people find it to be such a fascinating idea.
The most breathtaking vista mankind have ever seen, the mind-blowing experience, and a fresh viewpoint on Earth are currently what commercial space travelers find most alluring. The fact that some people can make their dream of visiting space a reality is an enormous accomplishment because most people grow up thinking they would never travel to space. The Overview Effect is the term used to describe the sensation of viewing the Earth from space. In essence, this is a cognitive shift in awareness, where astronauts acquire a fresh feeling of duty and accountability to safeguard Earth. Space travel may promote human compassion if it is true that everyone who goes to space will desire to preserve the environment. The ability to experience microgravity, where they will be able to feel weightless on the spacecraft for a few minutes, is another significant benefit of space travel for passengers. They may not see the world differently now, but they will undoubtedly feel happier as a result.
Though the most recent flights may not have been lengthy enough to provide much information, there are a few scientific advantages to space travel. Longer space missions in the future will provide us the chance to examine long-term physiological changes in people brought on by being in space. On these commercial flights, there are opportunities to conduct small-scale experiments as well. For instance, plants were brought on board the most recent Virgin Galactic mission to observe how they would respond to microgravity. The objective of space tourism, however, is distinct from that of other forms of space travel. Without a question, scientists and astronauts might conduct significant scientific study in the International Space Station, the moon, or even on another planet, but would tourism actually advance science?
Preparing to establish a colony on the moon or Mars for research purposes or even as a sort of backup plan in case Earth catches fire is one of the long-term objectives of space tourism. It's true that more regular people will need to be allowed to travel to space for this to happen, even though scientists and astronauts would need to undertake a lot of the research and preparation. In this sense, space travel could be a terrific place to start. Visit our Life on Mars, Earth and Beyond with Dr. Louisa Preston ExpertTrack to find out more about a possible future when people live on Mars or an icy moon. Dr. Preston, an astrobiologist and UK Space Agency Aurora Research Fellow, will assist you in examining the important issues regarding life, the universe, and the destiny of humanity.
Of course, not all of the news is exciting. We're going to look at some of the significant drawbacks of space travel in more detail. When discussing something as innovative and distinctive as space flight, it can be simple to overlook the drawbacks, but it's crucial that we have a balanced discussion about it. The outrageous cost of spaceship passenger tickets has already been discussed. Currently, Virgin Galactic trips cost between $250,000 and $250,000 per passenger. Blue Origin and Space X have not yet announced their ticket rates, but we do know some general information.
Blue Origin revealed that the ultra-rich have exclusive access to the chance to be a pioneer by auctioning off one seat on their spaceflight for $28 million. Regarding Space X, a crew of 4 will visit the ISS in early 2022 with Axiom and remain there for 8 days while doing 25 science experiments. The price? 55 million dollars each. Three of the passengers are investors, while only one is a former NASA astronaut, even though they will be conducting research. This money is certainly very difficult to obtain and highlights the seriousness of wealth inequality. Giving the most wealthy individuals exclusive access to something revolutionary seems to honor wealth with the highest honor.
In addition, billionaires who bought their way in will be remembered instead of the scientists, academics, and professionals who dedicated their lives to understanding the cosmos. However, given that wealthy businesspeople have taken over space institutions like NASA in an effort to promote frequent commercial space travel, we cannot be surprised by this. There are other issues with the cost of space tourism in addition to the unfairness of the wealthy having priority access to space flight. Why then can't these billionaires use some of their money to solve the climate catastrophe, world hunger, and general inequity when there are so many arguments for space tourism that talk about the future of humanity and saving the planet? Numerous people believe that the billionaire owners of space corporations are more concerned with "winning" the space race and acquiring control of space than they are with safeguarding the planet we now inhabit.