2021, the year of space tourism

With the multiple space tourism flights organized by billionaires Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson, space tourism has taken off this year. This news fits perfectly into the first theme in HGGSP in final, the “New areas of conquest”, highlights this week Benjamin Daubeuf, history-geography teacher at the Val-de-Seine high school in Grand-Quevilly. It can make a very good subject for the grand oral test.

The first theme in history, geography, geopolitics, political science (HGGSP) in final year class deals with space and oceans, these “New areas of conquest”. One of the milestones discussed – “Space today, a private land for conquest” – found a particular echo in the news this year, due to the multiple space tourist flights organized by private actors in the sector such as Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk or Richard Branson.

This selection of articles aims to help you prepare a major oral subject on the development of space tourism and its future challenges. This theme is perfectly in line with the expectations of the event and is based on rich news.

This first article, taken from the site of the American news channel CNN, returns to the statement made by American billionaire Jeff Bezos on June 7. the CEO from Amazon then announced that he would be, along with two other passengers, the first space tourist, saying on Instagram:

Since the age of 5, I have dreamed of traveling in space. ”

The richest man in the world has given himself the means to achieve his ambitions by creating a company entirely devoted to the conquest of space: Blue Origin.

He is not the only billionaire who wants to travel in space: at the same time the Briton Richard Branson, at the head of the company Virgin, had made known his ambition to be the first to fly into Earth orbit. The article of CNN specifies that “The billionaire wants to develop new technologies and, ultimately, lower the cost of access to space”.

The arrival of these private actors in the space sector is designated by the expression “New Space”. It is a notion to know imperatively. It describes the gradual disengagement of states in favor of private companies that can afford to invest colossal sums in civilian projects, such as tourism and space exploration.

This second article, taken from New York Times, evokes the expedition organized by Elon Musk, the CEO from the company SpaceX. On September 15, four tourists boarded a rocket that normally transports astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). The trip lasted three days, at an altitude of 580 kilometers, and the milestones were broadcast live on YouTube and Netflix. The conquest of space is indeed an element of prestige for the States and the companies which participate in it.

The exact price that the passengers had to pay for this orbital flight has not been revealed (several tens of millions of dollars, probably), but this tourism is still the prerogative of the richest. Jared Isaacman, the billionaire at the heart of this expedition, said in the New York Times that the cost of this trip would be lower than “The $ 200 million he hopes to get from his fundraising for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital”.

This last article, from the British daily The Gardian, is interested in the carbon footprint of this nascent space activity. The journalist takes the example of billionaire Richard Branson who offered himself, on July 11, a flight aboard a vessel of his company Virgin Galactic, topping Jeff Bezos in this race of billionaires in space.

The article notes that the fuels used by these shuttles “Release a number of compounds into the atmosphere, including CO2, water and chlorine. The first two molecules are greenhouse gases, while the chlorine atoms degrade the ozone layer ”.

The greatest risk for the climate would come above all from a democratization of these tourist flights. The Gardian estimates that this tourism could increase by 17.15% each year and represent 2.58 billion dollars in 2031. It is therefore urgent to regulate this flourishing industry which risks further accelerating the climate crisis.

Benjamin Daubeuf

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