2021 was the year of the opening of space tourism. But for whom?

Others question the purpose of space tourism. “These are technological advances, no doubt about it,” said Kathryn Denning, an anthropologist and space ethics researcher at York University in Toronto. But, she suggests, “their most significant achievement is the dominance of the airwaves and television coverage.”

For now, tickets go to the edge of space for six digits – $ 200,000 or more – while booking an orbital expedition costs up to eight digits. The price of $ 200,000 for a short space flight is higher than the annual revenue of approximately 90 percent of Americans. It’s hard not to notice, especially at times climate crisis, a pandemic and a growing awareness of inequality. Each seat on a suborbital flight is like starting a home with more than half a million undocumented Americans, or like starting lifelong family health care costs while tens of millions lack health care, or like starting college tuition when most Americans do not have access to higher education.

“Every time someone flies away for $ 250,000, while in that same country children aren’t eating and people are lined up along the borders, it’s hard for me to get there, to be honest,” Denning says.

But if the 20th century aviation industry is the guide, while these flights start as a luxury, prices will fall and access to space will expand beyond ultra-rich people as the market opens and technologies and infrastructure improve. “If you go back to 100 years ago, your ordinary person has not taken advantage of airlines that are just beginning to figure out how to fly on routes around the world. But today, for a very reasonable amount, anyone can jump on a plane and not think twice about it. It’s very safe. It’s probably a vision of the universe, ”says Bernstein.

This is also not the first time that a few wealthy individuals have played a major role in U.S. space activities. “It was billionaires like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller who funded the largest astronomical telescopes in the country in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Guggenheim family was the main source of funding for Robert Godard, who was the first rocket pioneer in the United States, ”said Alex MacDonald, chief economist at NASA.

On the other hand, MacDonald points out, NASA has supported and invested in the growing private space industry for decades, signing a series of contracts for equipment and services, including the newly created SpaceX, which turns 20 next spring. NASA is currently investing in Blue Origin and two other design development companies for a commercial space station to follow the ISS. That is part of a long-term plan to support the private sector in low Earth orbit, while reducing costs and freeing up most of the budget of the long-range research agency.

While the first six decades of spaceflight belonged to highly trained astronauts, now passengers can only fly for spectacular views, entertainment or challenge. And while ticket prices are high, these early private flights have made room for a handful of people who would never have had a chance before. The commander of SpaceX’s Inspiration4 was Jared Isaacman, a billionaire, CEO of payment processing company Shift4Payments, and he funded tickets that went for three other passengers. Artist and scientist Sian Proctor won his in the competition, Chris Sembroski received his ticket from a friend who won the lottery-like competition, and Hayley Arceneaux was offered the position of ambassador to the St. John’s Children’s Research Hospital. Jude, the organization for which the mission raised $ 200 million – for charity that could become a model for some other private flights. published by Virgin Galactic November 24 that Keisha Schahaff, health and energy coach in Antigua, won two places in a $ 1.7 million prize game for Space for Humanity, a Denver-based nonprofit that is expanding access to space with its Citizen program Astronaut Program.

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