To Space and to space travel is very much in the news nowadays. Last year Richard Branson on his Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos on blue origins reached space and a lot of news about it came out also, but they are many questions. One is did they actually going into space? What is the definition of space? And these voyages of Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos and the upcoming voyages of Elon Musk etc etc, how do we think about it and how to evaluate space tourism.
Billionaires Go into Space
Space as famously said by Star Trek “It is the final frontier” Front. In a sense if we talk about the long term survival of human humanity in future this case can be made that human presence in space is necessary.
Then how should we think about the recent visit of billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos into space and about the plans of tourism being made by many private space companies. But the first question is, where does space start and did Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos go into space or not?
I think this is only semantic, space has no explicit boundary. Nobody checks your passport there that now you are going into space. But the definition used in America by Federal Aviation Authority and US Air Force is that space boundary start 80 km above the surface of the Earth. Which means Richard Branson who went 88 km in Virgin Galactic went into space and enjoyed weightlessness for a few minutes. The internationally recognized bond is called “The Karman Line” and is 100 km above.
So Jeff Bezos in bio origin spacecraft went 104 km above and he said ‘I have gone to the internationally recognized Space’. This is simply teasing another, and this is also not important, whether they actually entered space or not and if you want to make more comparisons then the international space station is about 400 km above the surface of the earth and geostationary satellite (which orbit above a particular point on earth) for them you have to go 36,000 km above.
But the question is whether these voyages of Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos and the views they enjoyed are a scientific and technological breakthrough or not. Is that per perspective when human first went into space (according to these definitions) that was 60 years ago. Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin in April 1961 went 300 km into space and was the first person to go into space and just one month after in May 1961 an American astronaut Alan Shepherd went into space and the spacecraft of Jeff Bezos has been named after Alan Shepherd.
Now if these flights of Bezos and Branson are , then what is all the fuss about and what breakthrough are people talking about. Actually, its connection is with the idea that because of private companies going into space this step of humans going into space many have been taken.
Now, the one seat of Bezos’s flight was auctioned for $28 million and the Billionaire who purchased it was a little busy and he said I will go on the next flight. Now more flights of this type are being planned, one company named ‘space adventure’ is about to take two people to the international space station in December. Likewise, another Houston based company by the name of ‘Axiom Space’ will privately take three people to the international space station and every seat is every individual will pay $55 million.
So this plane of Richard Branson “Virgin Galactic” is more affordable. The price of one seat is 250,000 dollars. So this is about the elite the rich people to fancy about space.
Problems of Space Tourism
But according to astronomer there is another big problem. This is not 1960’s when the first space flight were being taken. One of the biggest problem, climate change due to climate change earth atmosphere temperature increase day by day. Calculation of astronomers these Benson and Bezzo flights have released 200 to 300 stones of carbon dioxide in atmosphere. Now These plans, the beginning of this space tourism. The assumption is gradually more companies will join and they will start sending more rocket and plan into space.
Virgin Galactic Company
If I talk only of one company Virgin Galactic, their intention is to have 400 flies in a year to enjoy weightlessness in space for a few minutes. These sort of things have been happening in the past also. I was thinking of parallel to this. Maybe the polar explorers of the early 20th century who were going to explore the north and south pole (most of them were rich who could afford the expedition).
It will add greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, these type of gases will also be added which will deplete the ozone layer. But why? Only for this that people enjoy weightlessness for sometime, their childhood desires are fulfilled (and that also only of the Elite)
The Overview Effect
This is another justification given regarding these missions, which is more noble and that is “The Overview Effect”. Richard Branson has mentioned this. Bezos has done this and Elon Musk has also mentioned it. Our view effect was first noted by astronauts. Such as Buzz Aldrin when he came back from the moon said when you see the earth from space your cognition changes your mind changes because you come to know how fragile is the Earth which is present in space with a thin atmosphere.
Now, this justification is given that if you see earth after going into space the appreciation of earth increases.