YOU DECIDE: Civilian Space Travel

Posted by on Oct 21, 2021 in You Decide!

In September 2021, four people–a CEO, a physician assistant, an aerospace data engineer, and a pilot/geoscientist–became the first all-civilian crew to orbit Earth on a mission called Inspiration4. On October 14, 2021, actor William Shatner experienced his own eleven-minute journey to the edge of space courtesy of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin aerospace company. Space travel, which has historically been controlled by governments, is becoming more and more commercialized. Some civilians are now able to take part, provided they have the funds to buy themselves a seat onboard. But imagine that space travel becomes more widely available.

a view of Earth from outer space
If you could travel to space, would you? Credit: Elen11/iStockphoto/Getty Images

You Decide: If you had the opportunity to go to space, would you take it?

NO

  • The training to go into space is extensive. For example, the Inspiration4 crew had to complete centrifuge training, simulations, zero-gravity plane training, altitude training, classroom training, and medical testing.
  • Only the very wealthiest citizens can buy their way into space, and the money spent for it could be used to solve a lot of problems here on Earth. It could help provide food to millions of hungry people, fund medical research, plant millions of trees, or help countries adapt to climate change.
  • Spaceflight can be dangerous. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan sent the first citizen to space: a teacher named Christa McAuliffe. But the Challenger space shuttle accidentally exploded during takeoff. Everyone on board was killed..

YES

  • While expensive, space travel can be used for philanthropic purposes: for example, the Inspiration4 crew raised $200 million to fight children’s cancer. They did this by auctioning off some of the personal items they took with them into space.
  • Civilians in space can also provide important research into human health and the effects of zero gravity on the body.
  • The experience of travelling to space would be incomparable. William Shatner said that his eleven-minute adventure was unforgettable. He said that it made him think about life and death and the meaning of life; and that he will never get over it.

Would you travel to space?

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