Space Tourism: a waste or just taking off?
You might pay lots for the bragging status and still not be branded an “astronaut”
The FAA, U.S. military and NASA all have different definitions of what it means to be designated as an "astronaut" and none of them fit perfectly with the way Space Tourism as a business is being conducted. Fewer than 600 people have flown to space in history, and most of them have been paid government employees.
Making Twitter furious, Jeff Bezos, the richest man on Earth, heads into suborbital space, Richard Branson took an hour-long rocket trip to the edge of space, and Elon Musk will head to space on Branson’s Virgin Galactic’s spaceplane.
One rocket launch produces up to 300 tons of carbon dioxide into the upper atmosphere, where it can remain for years, while SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Space Adventures want to make space tourism more common.
Space Exploration has the worthy goal of understanding what’s beyond our atmosphere: satellites help us track dangerous weather and our changing climate, learn about other planets, and the search for life beyond Earth.
But Space Tourism seems to be for the super-rich, and a few minutes spent experiencing weightlessness and viewing the curvature of the Earth could leave humanity footing an ever-larger carbon pollution bill, reflect the increasingly unsustainable levels of inequality and concentration of power, which, coupled with the climate crisis, will lock in suffering for billions.
Just 1% of the global population is responsible for half of the world’s commercial flight emissions, so rich people are already responsible for a disproportionate amount of carbon emissions.