THE CHANGING DIMENSIONS OF SPACE TOURISM

AUTHORS:

Ipsa, IMS Unison Dehradhun

Khushi Malhotra, JEMTECH Noida

Priyanshu Bhayana, NLU Orissa

Co- Authored and Edited By: Tanya Kanchan Soni, HNLU Raipur



Space Tourism or Private Spaceflight refers to the commercialization of outer space exploration and commute, open to the non-astrophysical diaspora. The oldest accounts of privatization of spaceflight operations can be dated back to 1982, where Conestoga 1, a launch vehicle funded by Space Vehicles Inc. took flight aboard the first private passengers intended to commute in the outer space. The program was, however, shut down after a paltry three flights.[1]


COMPANIES PROVIDING SERVICES -

Over the years, however, a different few private-run companies have taken to facilitating private spaceflights offering the masses with an opportunity to experience the boundless expanse of space.


SpaceX- With their Earth Orbit and NASA missions lined up, SpaceX, owned by the very famed scientist of this century, has mobilized the revolution in private spaceflight avenues. With its Starship and Super Heavy aircraft, SpaceX has devised a thirty-minute Earth to Earth transportation, amassing a long list of destinations secured for commercial spaceflights.[2]

Blue Origin- Owned by the wealthiest person on this planet, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com Inc., Jeff Bezos, Blue origin the brainchild of the industrialist's extra-planetary interests and astounding wealth. Founded in 2000, Blue Origin primarily aims at sending commercial payloads and astronauts in the outer space, and of late, through their New Shepard and New Glenn aircraft and has extensively planned towards manned spaceflights, both commercial and governmental for the near future.[3]


The Boeing Company- The Boeing Company has mainstreamed in ventures with commercial flights for various low cost and premium carriers and has also carried out business on the international forum for the exchange of defence and armoured vehicles. The Boeing Company has, of late, started working towards the facilitation of commercial spaceflights as well, to expand their horizons and to provide the general masses with such services through their Space Launch System and United Launch Alliance programs.[4]

This does not contain an exhaustive list of companies offering commercial spacecraft facilities but aims at portraying a portfolio of some of the household names in the nascent, yet lucrative avenues.


ELIGIBILITY AND SELECTION CRITERIA FOR TOURISTS

The financial means to buy a ticket and want to enjoy their moments in space. Space tourism has been somewhat successful in past times and will be in the upcoming future. NASA termed the space tourists as ‘Spaceflight participant’.

In the United States of America at the federal level, two organizations govern the space tourism those are:

a) Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act 2004

b) The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provided regulations adopted on December 15, 2006.

FAA provides rules on crew qualifications and training and other rules such as:

(1) The consent of the passengers must be in writing, which is called the 'Informed consent' in which all risks are told in advance. And such a written document cannot be produced by an individual who is under the age of 18 years[5].

In terms of health, US standards do not provide any requirement for medical examination. Nevertheless, in June, the FAA medical group provided guidelines for pre-flight measures in a 23 pages document, such as medical questionnaires, screening for certain mental health conditions, and chest X-rays and electrocardiograms[6]

(2) A space participant or its representatives could not take any legal action against the travel company for any loss, damage, or death of a participant due to risks in spaceflights as they were told in advance through the ‘Informed consent’ document.

LIABILITIES OF STATE AND COMPANIES

Space journey is no joke. The entry into the outer space and re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere is considered to be the most crucial part of the whole space journey. Therefore, it is to be considered precisely and handled carefully by experts. There arise various questions like What happens if, during a journey, the passenger is injured? What if any celestial object or orbital object is damaged? What if, any part of Earth is damaged? Who will be liable for covering all those damages or losses?

The stakes are too high. However, there have been various treaties and conventions governing the activities in Outer space, they may be called as the space laws. This falls under the ambit of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. Various treaties like the Outer space Treaty, the liability-convention, the rescue agreement, and many others are signed by the states for the regulation of space activities.[7] Some of the treaties are discussed below:

The Outer Space Treaty, 1967 is the treaty that “governs the activities of the state in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and the other celestial objects.”[8] According to Article 6 of this treaty, the state carrying on the outer space trip shall bear international responsibility, for national activities in outer space, irrespective of the fact that the activity was carried on by governmental agency or by a non-governmental entity.[9]

The Rescue Agreement, 1968 deals with the agreement on the rescue of astronauts, the return of astronauts, and the return of objects launched into outer space.[10]

This agreement article 1 states that, if any state receives information related to distress or accident of any aircraft or launched object, irrespective of whether it is in his territory or on the high seas or in any other place not under the jurisdiction of any state shall immediately – either contact the launching state and if not possible at that moment then, make a public announcement for appropriate means of communication and notify the secretary journal of the United Nations.[11]

This implies that the launching state shall take all means to rescue its astronauts and launch the object.

The Liability Convention, 1972 covers the international liability for damage caused by space objects.[12] This convention elaborates article 7 of the Outer space Treaty. It provides under article 2 that the state launching the object into the outer space shall be liable to pay compensation, for any damage caused by that object to any person or state or any celestial body, due to its fault in space. The liability Convention is essential as it provides the ways for the settlement of claims for damages.[13]

In addition to all the laws and responsibilities of the state, the space transport companies also have to communicate the risk Involved in the space tour. Therefore, there also exists a contractual- relation between both the transport company and its passengers. This relation can be concerning the insurance which the passenger takes for the journey, or it can be related to the damages caused or injuries suffered by the passenger due to the fault on the part of the company.

FUTURE OF SPACE TOURISM


INTERNATIONALLY

With the advent of the commercial space industry, the once typical science fiction of going to space is no longer a dream. It was an era where only astronauts and scientists could only have got this once in a lifetime opportunity. Not much time had passed when on April 12, 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to experience the wonders of spaceflight. However, today commercial companies like Blue Origin and SpaceX have come up with new and economic frontiers with unique orbital and suborbital experiences to make ordinary people travel to space.

It was in 2001 that an American businessman by the name of Dennis Tito became the very first space tourist to visit the International Space Station, but that cost him more than $20 million. Such a vast amount cannot be spent by many, hence to solve this problem companies have come up with the idea of taking people off using more and more reusable vehicles which are not only cost-efficient but both crew and fuel-efficient.

International Companies like that of Space Adventures of Vienna, Britain's Virgin Group, XCOR Aerospace, Blue Origin, Armadillo Aerospace, Boeing, SpaceX, etc. are some of those space companies that aim to fair tourist space reach. Tickets for some of these flights are even available for purchase.


IN INDIA

It is pertinent to note that in India, no law for space tourism and no such private company has emerged so well to give competitions to the stringent international space agencies. This could be out of many techno-politico reasons but has been well recognized as a growing market that could attract a whole lot of customers. Considering this ISRO has undertaken The Gaganyaan to be India's first manned mission to space. No doubt this is an excellent opportunity for the country to grow both as an industry and a market, but it cannot go far without a proper body of rules and laws in action.

[1] Rocket Failure Brings Favourable Fame, https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1350&dat=19810923&id=7IwxAAAAIBAJ&sjid=oQIEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2515,5610815 [2] Space X, https://www.spacex.com/human-spaceflight/earth/index.html [3] Blue Origin- Fly with Blue, https://www.blueorigin.com/fly-with-us/ [4] Boeing in Space, THE FUTURE OF SPACE IS BUILT HERE, (15-07-2020, 2:45) https://www.boeing.com/space/ [5] Space Legal Issues, (14-07-20, 23:09), https://www.spacelegalissues.com/space-law-space-tourism-legal-aspects/ [6] Elizabeth Howell, Fit for flight? Space Tourism lacks medical Standards (December 21, 2012) https://www.space.com/19017-space-tourism-medical-standards.html [7] Space law treaties and principles by UNOOSA [8] Treaty on principles governing the activities of the state in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies (United Nations Office for Outer space affairs) (15-07-20, 1:02) https://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/spacelaw/treaties/introouterspacetreaty.html [9] Resolution adopted on the reports of the first committee, https://www.unoosa.org/pdf/gares/ARES_21_2222E.pdf [10] Agreement on the rescue of astronauts, return of astronauts and the return of objects launched in outer space (14-07-20, 21:08) https://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/spacelaw/treaties/introrescueagreement.html [11] Resolution Adopted Without reference to a Main Committee, https://www.unoosa.org/pdf/gares/ARES_22_2345E.pdf [12] Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects (13-07-2020, 23:07) https://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/spacelaw/treaties/introliability-convention.html [13] Resolution adopted on the reports of the first committee, THE LIABILITY AGREEMENT (15-07-20, 22:49), https://www.unoosa.org/pdf/gares/ARES_26_2777E.pdf

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