The Big Think

November 22, 2004

High Flight

Filed under: Space — jasony @ 9:35 am

Backers of the bill wanted to allow would-be space tourists to take their risks, just as people do with dangerous sports such as rock climbing, mountain climbing, spelunking, wreck-diving, etc.  Opponents wanted the federal government to step in to protect people, as it does with commercial air travel today.

But what are the risks?  Alex Tabarrok wrote last week that space tourism might well be too dangerous, looking back at the history of rocketry and concluding that launches are just too dangerous.  Then again, Tabarrok found a risk of one in ten thousand too dangerous.

This drew two responses.  Blogger David Nishimura looked at death rates for some popular mountain-climbing destinations and found them very high — from 5-10% in climbing Mount Everest (which hundreds do) to over 26% (and in one case, 41%) for some more risky climbs.  Apparently, some people are willing to spend a lot of money to take a very high risk.  Space travel sounds a lot safer than that.

Count me among the supporters of the proposed Space Tourism Bill. Or even better: hands off, Uncle Sam.

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