Who is regulating commercial space travel? - Deepstash

Who is regulating commercial space travel?

  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has generally been given the job of overseeing the commercial space industry. But regulation of space is still relatively meager.
  • One of the biggest areas of concern is licensing launches and making sure that space flights don’t end up hitting all the other flying vehicles humans launch into the sky, like planes and drones.
  • There’s a lot that still needs to be worked out, especially as there are more of these launches.
  • In the meantime, no government agency is currently vetting these companies when it comes to the safety of the human passengers aboard.
  • There doesn’t seem to be an abundance of travelers’ insurance policies for space.

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MORE IDEAS FROM Six questions to consider before launching yourself into space

  • Right now, space tourism flights have only reached suborbital space, which means that flights enter space but do not enter orbit around Earth. Scientifically, that’s not a new frontier (done by NASA back in the early 1960s).
  • Right now, it’s not clear these trips will offer scientists major new insights, but they might provide information that could be used in the future for space exploration. These trips are also being marketed as potential opportunities for scientific experiments.
  • Suborbital spaceflight might also create new ways to travel from one place on earth to another.

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What will people actually be able to see and experience on a space trip?

The biggest perk of traveling to space is the view. Just past the boundary between space and Earth, passengers can catch a stunning glimpse of our planet juxtaposed against the wide unknown of space. The view is meant to be awe-inducing, and the experience even has its own name: the Overview Effect. 

Another perk of these trips is that space tourists will feel a few minutes of microgravity, which is when gravity feels extremely weak. That will give them the chance to bounce around a spacecraft weightlessly before heading back to Earth.

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Right now, it’s not entirely clear just how risky space tourism is.

  • One way space tourism companies are trying to keep travelers safe is by requiring training so that the people who are taking a brief sojourn off Earth are as prepared as possible.
  • On the flight, people can experience intense altitude and G-forces.
  • There’s also the chance that space tourists will be exposed to radiation, though that risk depends on how long you’re in space.
  • Some tourists will likely barf on the ride.
  • There doesn’t seem to be an age limit on who can travel, though.

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The leaders in commercial space tourism already claim they have a market to support the industry. While Jeff Bezos hinted the price would eventually come down — as eventually happened with the high prices of the nascent airline industry — for now, ticket prices are in the low hundreds of thousands, at least for Virgin Galactic. 

That price point would keep spaceflight out of reach for most of humanity, but there are enough interested rich people that space tourism seems to be economically feasible.

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  • The emissions of a flight to space can be worse than those of a typical airplane flight because just a few people hop aboard, so the emissions per passenger are much higher. That pollution could become much worse if space tourism becomes more popular.
  • The carbon footprint of launching yourself into space in one of these rockets is incredibly high, close to about 100 times higher than if you took a long-haul flight.
  • These flights’ effects on the environment will differ depending on factors like the fuel they use, the energy required to manufacture that fuel, and where they’re headed.

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Billionaire In Space

Sir Richard Branson, the billionaire entrepreneur who owns Virgin Galactic, boarded his rocket for its maiden space voyage, debuting private space tourism and beating Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos to the private space race.

  • Unity, the rocket plane with two pilots, flew the billionaire to the edge of the earth, reaching 282,000 feet up in the sky, and getting back within the hour.
  • The flight departed from New Mexico where Elon Musk joined in to support Sir Richard Branson.
  • The space project was conceived in 2004 but was delayed due to technical problems including a fatal crash in 2014.

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In the middle of an unpredictable pandemic, climate crisis, global unrest and inequality, a couple of extremely wealthy men took space rides in their multi-million dollar spaceships.

The efforts may seem like vanity projects, but there is underlying motivation to colonize space, a galactic goal that has surfaced in the last century.

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