As the world watched William Shatner launch into space and return safely, space tourism is no longer an “if.” Instead, it’s only a matter of time. Yet, despite how exciting it is to see space exploration made more accessible, it kind of undermines the fight against climate change.
At least depending on how you look at it.
Currently, the number of rockets that launch is few and far between. And to be fair, they actually produce fewer carbon emissions than the airline industry. Yet, this will surely change if the world starts seeing monthly, weekly, or even daily launches for space tourists.
Should we focus on saving Earth or can space travel actually help the environment?
What Impact Do These Launches Have Now?
Well, it all depends on the rocket that is launching. Currently, we are seeing a space race unfold before our very eyes.
If we take a look at Blue Origin (the rocket William Shatner used), owned by Jeff Bezos, the information is not publicly available. However, the fuel the craft uses isn’t actually that harmful.
It is made of a mix of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.
Carbon dioxide is a by-product, but it’s much cleaner than traditional rocket fuel. Yet, even if the amount is small, if more flights are conducted on a regular basis, it can add up fast.
There are also concerns over the impacts on the mesosphere and ionosphere. Yet, more research is needed to confirm.
How Could Space Tourism Help the Environment?
We need to think of space tourism as the first step. And yes, I know we have been to the moon. However, rockets developed today are completely different.
There may even come a point where rockets could be zero emissions. The point is that space tourism is getting development started again. Eventually, these rockets will go further and further.
Soon, maybe it won’t just be tourism in space.
Perhaps factories and other industries could exist as space stations. The emissions they produce won’t be impacting the earth anymore. And we would have the technology to move the product back to earth.
After all, these rockets are reusable.
Now I know what you’re thinking, this is pretty far-fetched. But I think most of us would have said space tourism was far-fetched even a decade ago.
Technology is evolving rapidly in this field. It’s a fact. And even William Shatner believes in this sentiment.
It’s also not just rockets. We’re already in the process of sending solar panels into space and sending that energy back to earth.
Is There A Timeframe?
While we are seeing multiple successful launches from multiple companies, space tourism is still quite far away. There would need to be multiple rockets, multiple launch sites, and a lot of other stuff.
It will take years before the industry grows large enough to be a major emissions source. And by that time, they may have already eliminated emissions from the fuel.
While some of the advantages I talked about could take decades to realize, let’s not rule them out as impossible.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.