The Case Against Space Tourism

The Case Against Space Tourism

The Case Against Space Tourism Professional astronauts have a full understanding of the risks. Civilians like Christa McAuliffe don’t. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket ship and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceplane performed flawlessly during brief, newsworthy flights this month that seemed fun and even inspiring. Both men hope their feats will help usher in a new era in which ordinary people can enjoy the wonders of spaceflight. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is planning a civilian launch later this year. “Welcome to the dawn of a new space age,” Mr. Branson announced after he landed. The intrepid astro-billionaires admit there are risks involved, but they don’t dwell on them. So far only Mr. Musk, whose company is widely admired by NASA insiders, has emphasized the risks. Speaking of his plans to send crews to Mars before the end of the decade, he said, “a bunch of people will probably die in the beginning.” Mr. Musk is right. Space travel is dangerous, and a question worth asking is: How many will die? The last time there was talk about sending an ordinary person …
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