British billionaire Richard Branson’s company Virgin Galactic hopes to conquer a new tourist industry- outer space. He is hoping to send private citizens into space on the first rocket powered tourism flights.
The idea is hugely popular despite the hefty price tag. Over 500 people have already reserved seats and paid the deposit on the $200,000 ticket price. The minutes long sub-orbital flight on the SpaceShipTwo (SS2) is supposed to begin by the end of this year.
Private space tourism is a rapidly expanding industry and there are several private companies aiming to send tourists into space in the next few years. With its growth, many have expressed environmental concerns about the effect of launching multiple rockets a day may have on the environment.
Rising carbon emissions caused by industry, transport and deforestation have been blamed for global warming. Several studies and research have raised concerns about the effect that an established space tourism industry would have on the environment. According to the Guardian, one new study in Geophysical Research letters predicts that soot emitted by rockets in the upper atmosphere would lead to significant disruption in the world’s climate, resulting in a net increase in temperatures.
However Branson says that space tourism flights by his company would only have a minor impact on climate change. The SS2’s lightweight carbon-fiber body will reduce fuel burn and according to Branson, the carbon emission produced from a trip has been reduced to less than the cost of an economy round-trip from Singapore to London.
Insurance-wise, it is an uncharted environment. Rockets would be the only direct source of human-produced compounds above 14 miles in the atmosphere, so knowing exactly how the exhaust affects the atmosphere is still uncertain. It would require a highly specialized coverage that accounts for the unique risks that the space tourism industry faces.
But back on Earth, pollution liability can be a considerable exposure. Companies can face a significant cost if they aren’t prepared. The only thing worse than damaging the beautiful West coast we live on is dealing with the staggering cost of cleanup and damage awards.
Cal-Nevada Insurance Agency offer business insurance clients throughout San Francisco and the northern California, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada areas pollution liability insurance that can be counted on to respond if you are at fault for an environmental accident. Contact us today for more information. (866) 670-5948