Sumary of Space tourism lifts off:
- The rocket plane carrying Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson and other crew members flies toward space on July 11. Photo: VCGAfter years of waiting, Richard Branson’s journey to space earlier this month on a Virgin Galactic vessel was supposed to be a triumphant homecoming.
- Instead, the jaunt attracted significant criticism – about its carbon footprint.
- With Earth’s wealthiest man Jeff Bezos spent a few minutes outside the planet’s atmosphere Tuesday on Blue Origin, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX planning an all-civilian orbital mission in September, the nascent space tourism industry finds itself facing tough questions about its environmental impact.
- Right now, rocket launches as a whole don’t happen often enough to pollute significantly.
- “The carbon dioxide emissions are totally negligible compared to other human activities or even commercial aviation,” NASA’s chief climate advisor Gavin Schmidt said.
- Virgin Galactic, which came under fire in op-eds on CNN and Forbes, as well as on social media, for sending its billionaire founder to space for a few minutes in a fossil fuel-guzzling spaceship, says its carbon emissions are about equivalent to a business-class ticket from London to New York.