Tencent Technology News, July 26, for many people, the rise of commercial space tourism is a vulgar display of wealth and power. While people together to address climate change, the new crown global crisis such as pneumonia epidemic, but in the billionaires into space to find their own fun fun. Not long ago, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos told reporters after his first space tour that Amazon’s customers and employees had “paid the bill” for his flight, which intensified this criticism.
However, critics cannot stop Bezos and other super-rich people from continuing to enter space. Space tourism is now a reality for those who can afford it, although it will affect everyone on Earth. In fact, all signs indicate that the space tourism market is large enough. Bezos’ Blue Origin has arranged two trips later this year, and at least 600 people have already flown for the future at Virgin Galactic, a space tourism company founded by billionaire Richard Branson. Approximately $250,000 was paid.
Now, with the launch of the commercial space tourism market, future space travelers and everyone else on the planet are facing huge problems. Here are the six most concerned questions and their answers:
What can people actually see and experience during space travel?
The biggest advantage of traveling in space is to enjoy the scenery. As long as they cross the boundary between space and the earth, passengers can see our planet juxtaposed with the vast unknown space. If passengers board a Virgin Galactic spacecraft, they will reach an altitude of about 53 miles (80 kilometers). The blue origin spacecraft will climb higher, about 62 miles (100 kilometers) above sea level, and cross the internationally recognized Carmen Line, the dividing line between the earth and space. Overall, the experiences provided by the two companies are very similar.
This kind of experience is easy to be awe-inspiring, and even has a proprietary name to describe it-Overview Effect (or God’s perspective). Wendy Whitman Cobb, a professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy of Advanced Aviation and Space Studies, said: “When you see the earth from such a high place, it changes your view of things and changes us. The degree of interconnection, and how we waste resources on the planet.”
Another benefit of these trips is that space tourists will feel microgravity for a few minutes, which is an experience where gravity feels very weak. This will give them the opportunity to perform a weightless bounce around the spacecraft before returning to Earth.
However, the flight times of Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are relatively short, about 10 minutes and 90 minutes, respectively. SpaceX, the space company founded by Elon Musk, will provide more services. This fall, billionaire Jared Isaacman, founder of Shift4 Payments, will take the SpaceX spacecraft for the first ordinary human space flight, flying in the orbit of the earth for several days. In the next few years, the company also plans to transport private passengers to the International Space Station and travel around the moon.
These trips are for space fans who aspire to become astronauts. But the rich want to enter space for another reason, which is to show off their uniqueness and show off their wealth. Many people can afford to travel to Venice or the Maldives, but how many people have enough wealth to support space travel? Sridhar Tayur, a business professor at Carnegie Mellon University, explained: “It’s probably a better way to show off in person than to post photos of space on Instagram!”
Is there a scientific goal for commercial space travel, or is it really just a drive?
Currently, space tourism from Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin only reaches suborbital space, which means that the spacecraft will enter space but will not enter Earth’s orbit. Scientifically speaking, this is not a completely new field. Harvard University technology historian Matthew Hersch said that although the current flight uses new technology, as early as the early 1960s, NASA had completed manned suborbital flights. .
It is not clear whether these trips will provide scientists with significant new insights, but they may provide information that may be used in space exploration in the future. In fact, these trips have also been advertised as potential scientific experiment opportunities. For example, a recent flight of Virgin Galactic carried plants and tested their response to microgravity.
These private companies mainly see opportunities for large-scale reuse in their commercial aircraft, which will allow the same rocket to enter space repeatedly, thereby reducing the overall cost of space tourism. Billionaires and their private space companies also see the development of these rockets as an opportunity to prepare for more and farther space flights. For example, Bezos argued that the suborbital flight of the New Shepard will help prepare the company for future missions, including its New Glenn rocket for orbital flight.
Bezos recently said at a briefing after returning to the ground: “The fact is that the architecture and technology we chose is completely overkill for the suborbital tourism mission. We chose the vertical landing architecture. Why do we do this? Because of it. It’s easier to scale up.”
In addition to promoting potential future scientific progress, suborbital space flight may also create new ways to travel from one place on the earth to another. For example, SpaceX has already advertised that through space travel, long-distance flights can be shortened to only 30 minutes.
Is space tourism safe?
At present, it is not entirely clear how big the risks of space tourism are. One way that space tourism companies try to ensure the safety of travelers is to train them so that those who stay briefly over the earth are as prepared as possible.
In flight, people can strongly experience altitude and gravity. Glenn King, chief operating officer of the Nastar Center, said: “This is the continuous application of gravity to your body, which can reach 6G in one direction, that is, in more than 20 to 30 seconds. , Which is equivalent to bearing 6 times the weight of one’s own body weight. When there are six people or the equivalent of 6 times one’s own body weight on the body, the pressure is enough for a short period of time.”
Space tourists may also be exposed to radiation, although this risk depends on the length of time you spend in space. US Air Force Academy of Advanced Aviation and Space Research Professor Cobb explained: “This is a risk, especially orbital flight is more dangerous than orbital flight, just like taking an airplane will expose you to higher radiation than on the ground. “She also warned that some tourists might vomit during the trip.
However, there seems to be no age limit for who can participate in space travel. The recent space flight of Blue Origin included both the youngest space traveller ever, the 18-year-old Dutch high school graduate, and the oldest space traveller, the 82-year-old pilot Wally Funk (Wally Funk). ).
How much is the space travel ticket?
The leaders of commercial space tourism have claimed that they have created emerging markets to support this industry. Although Bezos hinted that the price of space travel will eventually fall, it is still around hundreds of thousands of dollars, at least for Virgin Galactic. This price will prevent most people from flying in space, but there are enough wealthy people interested in it, so space tourism seems to be economically feasible.
What impact will commercial space travel have on the environment?
The greenhouse gas emissions of space flight may be worse than that of a typical airplane flight, because only a few people can have this experience, so the emissions per passenger are much higher. If space tourism becomes more popular, pollution may become more serious. The ultimate goal of Virgin Galactic alone is to launch 400 space flights every year.
Eloise Marais, Professor of Physical Geography at University College London, said: “The carbon footprint of taking these rockets into space is incredibly high, almost 100 times that of long-distance flights. If we want to have Environmental awareness and consideration of our carbon footprint is an incredible issue.”
The environmental impact of these flights will vary according to factors such as the fuel they use, the energy required to make the fuel, and the destination. For example, Bezos argues that the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen fuel used by Blue Origin is less harmful to the environment than other space competitors. But experts say that this may still have a significant impact on the environment.
We also need to continue to study other risks, including the release of smoke and dust that may damage the stratosphere and ozone layer. A 2010 study found that soot from 1,000 space tourism launches could warm Antarctica by nearly 1 degree Celsius. Professor of Sustainable Tourism Development Breda University of Applied Sciences of Paul Peters (Paul Peeters), said: “Some risk is unknown we should do more work to assess these risks and ensure they do not happen, or to a. Ways to alleviate them.” Overall, he believes that environmental costs are sufficient to prevent people from participating in space travel.
Who is managing commercial space travel?
Currently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is usually given the responsibility of overseeing the commercial aerospace industry, but its oversight of space is still relatively weak. One of the most worrying areas is permitting launches and ensuring that space flight will not eventually hit all other aircraft that humans launch into the sky, such as airplanes and drones. Just in June of this year, a helicopter flew into the launch area, prompting SpaceX to delay the launch.
There are still many things that need to be resolved, especially when such launch activities are becoming more frequent. Not long ago, the U.S. Senate presided over a hearing where leaders in the commercial space industry focused on monitoring the growing number of civilian flights. At the same time, the FAA is also monitoring the surge in spaceports (mainly airports used for space flight) and ensuring that there is enough space for them to launch safely.
But the government can also intervene in other areas. Carnegie Mellon University business professor Stajul said: “I think cyber security will also play a very important role so that people will not be hacked.” The FAA said the agency is involved in the development of the principles of space cyber security. Established, but Congress has not given it a specific role in the study of space cybersecurity. To some extent, the government may also intervene in monitoring the environmental impact of these flights, but this is not the area where the FAA currently has jurisdiction.
At the same time, there is currently no government agency reviewing relevant companies on issues related to the safety of space passengers. FAA officials confirmed that although the agency is issuing permits to companies that carry humans into space, they have not actually confirmed that these trips are safe. This is the jurisdiction that Congress will not give the agency until 2023. In addition, there does not seem to be much insurance for space travelers. Cobb said: “Passengers are basically signing signatures, indicating that they have waived all rights. This means that you acknowledge that there are risks, but promise to bear the consequences yourself.
Therefore, what needs to be vigilant here is that if you decide to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to go for a ride in space : if there is an injury or other problems, you may have to take all the responsibility yourself.