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Expensive flights to the space’s edge could have a significant impact on the atmosphere

Last month, when Jeff Bezos revealed his trip to space, he observed, “The Earth changes you when you see it from space. It alters your relationship with the planet and humanity as a whole.” Only space explorers could have this encounter for a long time. The Amazon billionaire has wished for it since he was a child. Bezos reached suborbital space in a strangely designed vehicle. His colleague billionaire Richard Branson, who is also the founder of Virgin Group of companies, took a Virgin Galactic trip to the space’s edge earlier this month. Elon Musk, the entrepreneur, hopes to take one of Branson’s spaceflights next year.

The expense of participation is in the millions. The bill for carbon emissions is still being worked out. Blue Origin travelers train for fourteen hours over two days, rather than the lengthy list of credentials and experience required by NASA. Passengers are given three days of orientation and preparation by Virgin Galactic.

For such billionaires, success would entail a lot more people paying a lot of money to see this unique view of the Earth. However, this rising “space tourism” industry isn’t sustainable due to the restricted passenger capacity for each journey and the environmental implications of launch emissions (which could increase extreme climate-related weather events).

Increased carbon dioxide exposure can cause many health issues in humans, such as headaches, dizziness, difficulty breathing, exhaustion, suffocation, and convulsions. Nitrogen dioxide levels beyond a certain threshold can damage a person’s capability to breathe and make them more susceptible to asthma and respiratory infections. And per the Australian government, long-term exposure to nitrogen oxide can induce chronic lung disease and impair a person’s sense of smell.

The entire carbon footprint of such new spaceflights has been kept under wraps. This makes determining the overall impact of rocket deployments on the atmosphere challenging, especially when businesses like Virgin Galactic want to perform 400 spaceflights every year. However, scientists estimate that emissions from a trip with Branson’s firm are about comparable to driving a conventional car around the Earth.

According to University College London associate professor Eloise Marais, the propellants utilized to propel Virgin’s VSS Unity, Blue Origin’s New Shepard, and SpaceX’s Falcon rockets differ. The igniting and burning process differs often produces greenhouse gases, water vapor, and heat. While the quantity of space trips is tiny in comparison to long-haul commercial aircraft, the carbon dioxide difference is enormous. A rocket transporting four or even more passengers will spew 200 – 300 tons of carbon dioxide, rather than the one to three tons emitted per passenger. “To contend with other sources, it doesn’t require to expand that much more,” Marais informed The Guardian.

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