Space Tourism, the Next Big Thing – Opportunity & Challenges
Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar
Over the past decade the general perception of space tourism has changed from being considered as “science fiction” to becoming recognised as a lucrative opportunity for the space industry. Space tourism stands for any commercial activity that offers its client direct or indirect experience with space travel. It comprises of various activities ranging from long-term stays in orbital facilities to short-term orbital or suborbital flights, and even parabolic flights in an aircraft helping passengers experience short periods of weightlessness. Flights into outer space by private individuals are finding increased attention in the public. Due to which occasional orbital flights with “space tourists” have taken place. Space tourists who have been taken to the International Space Station (ISS) had to shell out large sums of money for the experience. But now the interest seems to be shifting towards providing “cheaper flights” which are not solely aimed at the ISS but remain “suborbital” so that they are affordable to the masses. Space tourism activities may therefore include the use of an aircraft and/or spacecraft. However, the prospects for both suborbital and orbital private human access to space give rise to some challenging legal and ethical questions and call into question the adequacy of existing international law instruments that are directed towards the regulation of the use and exploration of outer space. This essay focuses on some of the most challenging issues regarding proliferation of space tourism and its possible solutions.