Space tourism marketing presents spaceflight as glamorous, pioneering and exciting. However what the marketing doesn't mention is the risk associated with a spaceflight. Probably because if they did, no one would seriously consider purchasing a ticket…
So who is looking out for the safety of the passengers?
The answer may surprise you!
In the commercial airline space the FAA provides regulation and oversight for the public's safety including the passengers. However, for space tourism flights, the FAA does not regulate or provide oversight for passenger safety, their current responsibility is to protect uninvolved parties on the ground from being injured or killed. Instead of regulation and oversight for space tourism passengers, the FAA relies upon informed consent.
Informed consent requires that all space tourism businesses make customers explicitly aware that the FAA has not certified the vehicle as being safe for human flights. The customers must also be made aware of the history of human spaceflight accidents, the safety history of the vehicle they will be flying in and all associated known and potential risks. Customers must acknowledge in writing that they fly into space entirely at their own risk.
Space tourism passengers are responsible for their own safety – they fly entirely at their own risk.
What are the risks?
The in-flight astronaut fatality rate as of March 2021 was 1 death in 31 boardings or 3.2%.
For comparison, the in-flight passenger fatality rate for commercial airlines between 2008 and 2017 was 1 death in 7.9 million boardings or 0.000013%.
It is also worth noting that between 2010 and 2018, the fatality rate for Mount Everest climbers was 1 death in 111 summit attempts or 0.9%.
Space tourism customers will need to have a higher risk tolerance than a Mount Everest climber.
Knowing the risks and assuming that money is no object to you – would you buy a ticket to fly into space? Do you have the right stuff?