Space tourism: not just yet please

With the rapid advances in (flight) technology came of course the space travel. Truly magnificent how a rocket or other space vehicle is able to create enough thrust to break the bounds of gravity and reach outer space. Needless to say, space travel has brought us many great inventions, technologies and  information. One can think of remote sensing, global navigation, satellite phone and numerous daily technologies. All very useful and interesting developments.

There is, however, an increasing downside. I'm talking about the less useful application of space travel: traveling toward space just for fun or as a leisure activity. In other words, space tourism. In short it means going on sub orbital (being weightless for a limited time) or orbital (weightlessness in at least one revolution around the Earth) flights just for the fun of it. So for no scientific, experimental or other economical reason at all. This development was 'doomed' to happen since space travel, like any other technology, can be profitable when commercialized. And thus people/companies are investing in businesses which sell traveling to space to the public.

While space travel is more dangerous due to the harsh environment and increased complexity of all involved systems, safety of the passenger is not the main theme I'm aiming at. What in my opinion is most controversial is the impact on Earth's environment as well as the space environment. Currently getting to the required altitude or orbit costs lots of energy. With the current fuel, this has a enormous impact regarding pollution and emissions.

And what is gained by this? Only that wealthy people have a 'unique' experience of weightlessness or get a great view, while facilitating companies make a nice profit. I find it hard to justify to create such an impact on the environment and Earths resources for touristic purposes, while more and more people are trying to live more conscious and sustainable. It just feels like their efforts are all destroyed for the pleasure of a small group. I find it ethically just not justifiable.

This doesn't mean I'm against space tourism. The technology might progress to a point in which it has far less impact on the environment, since space activities like remote sensing, deep space mining and orbital research are likely to continue and develop more efficient technologies rapidly. I think, however, that space flight for entertainment purposes is absolutely not justifiable at the moment, when we should think really carefully on our current way of life and how we treat the resources we have.

It's just not the time yet.


While this is specified on something as clearly an unnecessary luxury product as space tourism, it also applies to other less visible luxury products and services.