By Mirella Ionta
Would Neil Armstrong have ever predicted that, when taking his first step on the moon in 1969, his Apollo 11 moon-landing and extraordinary human accomplishments in space exploration were going to help facilitate the generating of luxury space tourism decades later? From their inception, pioneering space missions were in a large part designed to create inconceivable possibilities for a government-backed NASA and its Soviet competitor in the development of space technology for military purposes.
The last decade has seen such major world powers as China and the EU seriously invest in their space projects. In years to come, space will also be increasingly commoditized to supply the insatiable travel demands of well-to-do holiday-makers and furnish a venue for artists’ catharses sure to bear heavy price tags.
As space has become a coveted vacation spot for some billionaires, this luxury leisure market should not be operational simply because there is a demand for it. An outlandish Alaskan cruise, a sojourn in a five-star luxury hotel in Lake Palace in Udaipur, India, and a paragliding lesson in the wilds of New Zealand all adequately provide thrills to satisfy a rich daredevil during his lifetime. However, for well-heeled entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Records, defying gravity has been an enduring dream of his since childhood.
His recent endeavours boast the construction of a spacecraft destined for infinity. His space tickets go for $200,000 and guarantee his clients a three-day sojourn in space haven. It is not far-fetched of us to imagine that gift baskets promising champagne and fresh caviar, Calvin Klein designed space suits, and abundant leg room could be among the amenities that would be availed on board by Richard and friends!
For successful businessmen like Cirque de Soleil’s Guy LaLiberte for instance, going over and beyond earth’s atmosphere was imperative in the realization of his personal, artistic goals. Last year he became the first Canadian private space tourist. His “Poetic Social Mission,” as he coined it, was reportedly oriented in raising awareness for water sustainability: Arguably the biggest environmental challenge humans face today. As space pollution has become a serious concern over the decades of increased space travels, missions are launched in spite of the exposed fact that man-made orbital debris is detrimental to both citizens of the world, and the waters from which they are nourished.
As NASA and its competitors market their missions as mandatory accomplishments for space-age technology that aim at benefiting living species on earth, disconcerted onlookers automatically renew their scepticism at every televised rocket launching that has them bear witness to malignant clouds of eerie, exhaust gas comfortably establishing a life of their own under an ailing ozone. In truth, a “Saving the Waters of the World Space Mission” presents an embarrassing fallacy and weak pretext to invade space for those who are veritably coveting a real solution to environmental problems. Exploring the expanse between the celestial bodies of the universe a bene placito is absurd and unacceptable for many down-to-earth individuals who can surmise the serious implications such trips have.
Opening a leisure space travel luxury market is environmentally irresponsible and contradicts the current government-funded Going-Green campaign which promotes a concerted effort on the part of citizens of the developed nations to take necessary measures as consumers to preserve Earth’s resources. Government and other billion-dollar establishments should quickly do their own part to practice the principles buttressing this crusade before it is dismissed as a sham and accorded to orbit a magnate-manipulated planet called Hypocrisy.