By Alexandra Dolce • July 30, 2020•Writers in Residence
Space tourism is defined as humans traveling to space for recreation. Yep, instead of going to Paris for dessert, just fly to space, have brunch, champagne and take copious amounts of selfies. Space tourism is currently estimated to be a 23 billion dollar industry. According to an article published in 2019 by CNBC.com tourists will pay a MERE $52 million for a trip to the International Space Station.
With the advent of all of this very expensive traveling several legal issues come to mind. The first is liability. How do both space carriers and passengers protect themselves and protect their property from liability? This is novel because there are currently so many unknowns associated with space travel. Regulators and attorneys should primarily address issues associated with the health of the passengers and the safety of not only the space vehicle but also safety associated with where the vehicle is going to land. Second, both domestic and international launches have to be regulated vis a vis space traffic, space debris, passenger safety, crew safety and third party liability ;liability associated with the acts of other space travelers, carriers and researchers. Third are property rights. It must be clearly expressed what belongs to whom when traveling for a space mining excursion or any other type of excursion. Both carriers and passengers may assume that they have various rights to property. As such, what constitutes ownership has to be clearly defined. Finally environment, as I have mentioned in a previous post space debris is currently a big challenge for space faring nations. Imagine how dire that problem may become when the human/passenger footprint is introduced. We have to guarantee that tourist keep space clean and no unwanted germs or animals are introduced into the environment that may cause potential harm to the space environment, earth and other potential tourist.
I can go on and on because the possibilities and probabilities are currently endless because this is novel terrain. However the message is clear. It’s time to work with experts in every filed in order to anticipate, legislate and regulate.