Last week, billionaire Richard Branson made history as he propelled into the edge of space aboard a Virgin Galactic aircraft. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is scheduled to take a similar flight in the coming days as a part of the new space tourism race.
It seems space tourism is on its way to becoming more commonplace — at least, that is the goal of several companies, including SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Space Adventures. If they make their dreams reality, and it appears they are on track to do so, it will mean more people joyriding into space on a regular basis.
But how does that impact the environment?
Experts are predicting that if space tourism grows in popularity, it will mean space flights happening more often in the future, which will increase the number of pollutants in the atmosphere released by each of these flights. Emissions released by space flights do little damage in comparison to the airline industry, which consists of hundreds of thousands of airline flights daily.
Still, in comparison to airline flights, the chemical emissions of a single space launch are much higher. They are not as large of a threat at this time because there are such few annual space launches. However, the number of space flights will certainly increase, and with it the emissions of carbon dioxide, water, chlorine, and other substances into the atmosphere.
Scientists are concerned about how these emissions will affect our already-warming planet. Earth is already feeling the effects of climate change due to global warming, including extreme heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, and massive rainfall causing catastrophic flooding. Experts question if the race to space tourism is only exacerbating the problem.
At Karmagawa and SaveTheReef, we share their concerns about our planet and its wellbeing. We hope that the people working in the space tourism industry can find clean, responsible ways to move forward in this enterprise. We need to make choices every day that contribute to the sustainability of our world, like being conscious of the environmental impact new endeavors like space tourism can have on our planet.
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What do you think about the race to space tourism? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.