By Macy Dennon
Commercial space travel is going to be the worst thing for our planet, unless scientists figure out a way to make the process greener. In recent years, the prospect of commercialized space travel has become more possible. In fact, humanity will likely become a multiple planetary species. But the risks of commercial space travel — which include crowding by satellites and other space junk in orbit, the small market, and the negative impacts on the environment — continue to outweigh the benefits.
One aspect of space travel that some might not think of is the cluttering, resulting from an increase in space junk or satellites orbiting the Earth. Over 11,000 satellites are currently circling our planet and those satellites affect the possibility of space travel. The added space junk from commercial space travel will decrease the possibility for more research and discovery-based satellites. Scientists and engineers will need to create software or machines that can detect possible crashes between the myriad of satellites and billionaire rockets in orbit and prevent them.
In addition, the people who will have access to this type of “vacation” comprise fewer than one percent of the world. Only the richest of the rich can afford this once in a lifetime opportunity. These billionaires are simply seeking adventure, as that is the main benefit of these trips.
Finally, commercial space travel is not green. The increase in harm to the ozone layer is just one of the potential risks of increased space tourism. The black carbon emission from the combustion of rocket fuel is a contributor to global warming. This black carbon stays in the stratosphere for four years, radiating heat because of the height of the rocket, rather than the few weeks that it stays in lower amplitudes. The emissions per person are much greater than that of commercial air travel, almost 100 times greater. Jeff Bezos claims that his rocket company, Blue Origin, uses liquid hydrogen and oxygen fuels that are less harmful for the environment, but the key word here is “less” instead of “not.”
As technology evolves, I am sure that the space travel industry will find answers to these questions. But as of now, commercial space exploration is going to truly anger the hardcore climate change activists and truly harm our planet for a simple joyride.
(Sources: SpaceX, Blue Origin, NY Times)
Categories: Opinion, Web Exclusive
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