In 2021, Space travel or space tourism made global headlines when Virgin Galactic’s boss Richard Branson and Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos flew to space. Both Bezos and Branson visited space in the crafts created by their own companies. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, launched an all-civilian crew right into orbit on September 16th, 2021. This clearly shows that space travel is firing up, and it’s also predicted that it will surely become a massive business in the future. Virgin Galactic aims to start the regular commercial service from 2022 and already have 600 reservations for $250,000 per ticket.
The Swiss finance company UBS has already predicted that space tourism will be transformed into a $4billion industry within 2030.After returning to Earth from his 10 minutes 10, the second trip to space, he said that the experience has helped reinforce his pledge to combat climate changes. The main question about this particular sector is, “What type of impact will it have on the planet’s environment?”
Here, in this blog post, we will look at the truth about the carbon trail left space launch rocket of space tourists.
Carbon footprint of space tourists: what is it?
When you consider the carbon trail of space tourism to be the cost of space launch rocket fuel without including other impacts, it’s estimated to be around 100 tonnes of CO2 for each tourist. But the figures can be a lot higher for those space tourists who have paid $55 million to Elon Musk’s SpaceX to stay at the ISS or International Space Station.
But for Virgin Galactic Blue Origin tourists, the carbon footprint they leave behind through their 10-minute journey to space is equivalent to a 25-year carbon footprint per person. The average carbon footprint is about 4 tonnes of CO2 globally. So, to reduce the chances of a 2 Degree-Celsius rise in the global temperature, the global carbon foot every year must drop below 2 tonnes within 2050.
Due to such reasons, it’s essential to aim towards a carbon footprint of 2 tonnes of CO2 every year. But the space tourists, on the other hand, will blow through 50 times that particular amount in just a few minutes. Again, it’s not counting the material footprint or other influences on the atmosphere.
But apart from the space tourists, how exactly is the remaining population in the United States doing when they reach a carbon train of 2 tonnes of CO2? On the other average, the carbon trail of one person in the US is 16 tonnes every year. This is one of the most-highest rates globally, and it’s required to be reduced by 90%.
The Californians are doing extremely well compared with the average US resident, but they still have to reduce the carbon trail to 1/5th of its present levels.
The impact of space tourism
Even though people are well-aware that rocket fuels cost a lot of energy, several other impacts of space launch rocket are not understood properly. The high temperatures that occur during the time of the space launch rocket along with re-entry [This happens when the defensive heat safeguards of the recurring space launch rocket burn up] can transform the stable nitrogen into reactive nitrogen oxides in the air. These particles and gasses lead to a negative impact on the Earth’s atmosphere.
In the stratosphere, chemicals and nitrogen oxides that occur due to the water vapor breakdown turn ozone into water. This depletes the ozone layer that protects the Earth from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. The influence of space tourism goes way beyond the carbon trail of 200 tonnes to 300 tonnes of CO2 to space launch rocket that carries four space travelers.
The addition of the enormous amount of hardware along with ozone-depleting nitrogen oxides doesn’t tell the entire story. The wide impact takes place when it distracts plenty of individuals from solving all the actual global issues. If space tourism was not a big deal, scientists would’ve kept their concentration on other pressure matters. This is because scientists are currently researching the impact of this particular tourism.
The scientists would have researched various other climate change problems if private space travel didn’t rear its rocket-shaped head. You might think that people had already learned their lesson from things, such as CFCs, which scientists had spent many decades researching right before they were banned.
Instead, people allowed all the industries to introduce all their new or latest ingredients and technologies along with the weight of proof [of all the damages] that rests upon the scientists who are publicly financed.
What will the tourists notice when they visit space?
Probably one of the biggest benefits of space tourism is the view. When the passengers pass by the boundary between Earth and space, they will encounter the amazing view of the planet contrasted against the unknown of space. Tourists on the Virgin Galactic flight will be able to see around 53 miles above sea level.
People on Blue Origin will get the chance to go a little higher, around 62 miles above sea level. The Blue Origin riders will also pass by the “Karman Line,” the globally recognized border between space and Earth. Overall, the experience will be similar on Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin.
Is space tourism safe?
Currently, it’s not quite clear how risky or dangerous space tourism really is. The best way companies are trying to make space travel safe is by taking the training. The training can help all those individuals to stay prepared in advance who are taking a small break off the planet. When they are on the space launch rocket, they will experience G-forces and extreme altitude.
Experts believe that that is the sustained G-forces on a person’s body, upward of 6 G in one direction. This is 6 times a person’s body weight for upwards of 20 seconds to 30 seconds. This is considered a long time, especially when you have your weight or 6 people pressing down right on you. There is also a high chance that people traveling to space will be exposed to radiation. But this type of risk will depend on how long the person is in space.
Many experts have pointed out a huge risk for orbital flights rather than sub-orbital ones. When people go up on an aircraft, it exposes them to much higher radiation than they will when they are on Earth. Many of the tourists might also barf during their space ride. There is no age limit to travel to space. It’s because the youngest space tourist to go space through Blue Origin was an 18-year-old Dutch teen, and the oldest person to go to space was an 82-year-old pilot, Wally Funk.
The cost os space tourism
The price for spaceflight on Virgin Galactic is around $200,000 to $250,000 per ticket. The company had already made plans to take their first customers to the sub-orbital journey during 2022. Furthermore, Virgin Galactic has also announced that they will conduct 400 trips every year. Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, did not release any pricing options for their space travel tickets yet.
Space exploration is exciting as it allows people to see the stunning view of planet Earth from space. But at the same time, the carbon trail that is left behind these space travelers can have a negative impact on the Earth’s atmosphere. It’s highly essential to reduce the carbon trail every year to easily prevent a rise in global temperature.