Space tourism is all yours—for a hefty price

Okay, so this is a new era – but what does that mean? Does this raid represent a future in which even the average person can book a heavenly flight and enjoy the splendor of the earth from above? Or is this another way to flash their cash for the ultravalthies while simultaneously ignoring the problems of our existence on the ground and exacerbating it? Almost all 2021 escapes were the result of efforts by three billionaires: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson. Branson is the only single-digit billionaire, while Bezos and Musk are worth hundreds of billions.

“The very undue influence of wealth in this country – for me it is at the center of my issues with space tourism as it unfolds,” says Linda Billings, a communications researcher who consults for NASA and writes for more about the social effects of spaceflight. Is. For 30 years. “We are far from making this available to your so-called average person.”

Every spot on Virgin’s suburban spacecraft, the cheapest way to go into space at the moment, would set someone back 450,000. A seat on the Blue Origin’s initial suburban launch sold for $ 28 million at auction, and the undeclared price of SpaceX’s All-Civil Inspiration 4 mission, which landed in orbit three days before it was spotted off the coast of Florida. Per passenger.

Billings says such flights are not only ridiculously out of the reach of the average person’s finances, but that they are not achieving any real goals, far from ideal, given our global problems of inequality, environmental degradation and global epidemics. “We don’t really learn anything,” she says. “People involved in this space tourism mission do not seem to have a complete idea or conscience.”

Laura Forzic, owner of space consulting firm Astralitical, believes that focusing too hard on the money aspect is misleading. “Narrative [last year] There were billionaires in space, but much more than that, “says Forzic, who wrote the book. Being off-worldlyPublished in January, in which she interviewed public and private astronauts about why they go into space.

Forczyk sees flights as the best opportunity to conduct scientific experiments. All three commercial travel companies have undertaken research projects in the past to study the human body’s response to fluid motility, plant heredity and microgravity. And yes, the rich are the target audience, but SpaceX’s Inspiration4 passengers include artist and scientist Sian Proctor and data engineer Chris Sembrowski, who won their tickets through competitions, as well as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Ambassador Haley Arsenox (the trip helped her raise $ 200 million in hospital donations). Blue Origin gave free trips to aviation pioneer Volley Funk, who was banned from becoming an Apollo astronaut as a woman, and Laura, daughter of NASA astronaut Alan Shepard.

Forczyk also cites Iranian space traveler Anusheh Ansari, who flew over the ISS in 2006. “She talked about how she grew up on the battlefield in Iran and how [the flight] It helped her see the world as connected to each other, “says Forzic.

Billings thinks such testimonials are worth too little. “All of these people are talking to the press about how wonderful the experience was,” she says. “But to hear someone else tell you how exciting it was to climb Mt. Everest does not express real experience.

Like Everest Trek, the risk of death is to be considered. Historically, the death rate of space aviation has been just under 4% – about 266,000 times higher than that of commercial aircraft. Virgin faced two major disasters during the trial, killing a total of four employees and injuring four more. “There will be a high-profile accident; It’s inevitable, “says Forczyk. But even so, she predicts, space tourism will not end. She notes that despite the danger, people continue to climb Everest.

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