How might commercial space travel impact the environment?
While there's lots of fuss being made over reusable rockets,
it's not exactly the same as bringing a tote bag to the
supermarket. Sure, they won't be frazzled up in the atmosphere or
decay at the bottom of the ocean, but they'll still burn a lot of
rocket fuel to launch - the real bonus of reusing rockets is to
bring down the price of tickets.
A 2010 study, partly funded by Nasa, predicted
that an expanding commercial marketplace in space could spell
trouble for climate change and the ozone layer as hundreds of
tonnes of black carbon (aka soot) are released into the
What happens when you go into space?
Hopping on a Ryanair flight, this is not. To go into space,
you'll have to undergo training programmes and fitness tests. It's
for this reason that many private space travellers object to the
term "space tourist". "Space participant" is the official label
used by Nasa and the Russian Federal Space Agency, though monikers
such as "commercial astronaut" and "private space explorer" have
also been bandied about.
Semantics aside, there's a little biology that needs to be
considered. Humans are fallibly human. While billionaire-funded
engineers may have dreamed up space cities, the way our bodies
respond is, at present, less desirable and less controllable. Side
effects can include slacked muscles, blood pooling around your
body, flattened eyeballs and a loss of taste.
Overcome these and you'll enjoy (or hate, who knows) the
experience of take-off and landing, travelling faster than the
speed of sound and undergoing 3Gs of g-force pressure. If the ISS
is your destination, you'll see 16 sunsets and sunrises each day,
spot bolts of lightning and clusters of city lights from above and
somersault like you're Chris Hadfield. No spacewalks have yet been
taken by tourists, though it has been promised by operator Space Adventures. One
small step for you, one giant leap for travellers…