The Environmental Cost Of Space Tourism During A Global Pandemic

Is going to space considered essential travel during a global pandemic?

How important do you feel it is for the super-rich to advertise space tourism as an option to the general public whilst the tourism industry on earth has all but struggled with a health pandemic for the last 18 months?

Are you confused?

You are not alone.

The billionaire space race has caused much debate online in recent days.

"Space tourism is a wholly unnecessary use of resources by a very small elite of people and organizations"

- Claudio Magliulo of climate change action group 350

The wealthy elite spending their fortune is not the main issue. What is concerning is that space tourism is being celebrated when we are faced with massive social inequality, a warming and vulnerable planet and a need for sustainable alternatives.

Are these recent trips to space truly for all man-kind to aspire towards or just set aside for a select few?

In the past, space transport was focused primarily on cargo supply missions and research and satellite launch all surrounding the International Space Station.

The problem today is that space travel or space tourism is now shifting towards crewed missions for space exploration, tourism and a way for someone wealthy enough to gain a new experience or perspective on life. This is being led by SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, who have been developing rocket-powered suborbital vehicles.

It is important to remember that space travel for tourism purposes and space travel for science and research purposes are two different things.

It is vital that we see the role the recent space race plays in regards to the widening disparity between rich and poor and the real threat to humanity due to climate change.

This article will look at the social, environmental and ethical issues surrounding the space race - a fight between 3 of the world's richest men Bezos, Musk and Branson.

Are these elite adventures to space really in the name of science and discovery, or are they nothing more than a vanity project?

Are there more important and pressing issues here on earth that require our attention -

I think yes!

Critics of the billionaire's space race say:

If Bezos, Musk and Branson were truly concerned about benefiting humanity, detractors argue, they would put their vast wealth and ingenuity toward solving the many major problems facing people on Earth, like climate change, poverty and hunger.

- Mike Bebernes, Yahoo News, 2021

The media has made a considerable effort to tell their audience, us, that these are self-funded space trips. Self-funded may be one way of putting it, but a deeper look into how the rich continue to make their fortune may direct you to find that these headlines are slightly misleading.