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Should we care about space travel?

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 7:08 PM EDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (WTVG) - Billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos are talking space tourism after their private zero gravity trips to the outer atmosphere. But those of us who will never be able to afford a space walk, why should we care? A astrophysicist breaks it down.

“I thought it was pretty exciting. Pretty interesting, I know a lot of people were similarly excited, and then started asking the question why,” says Bowling Green State University (BGSU) physics and astronomy professor Andrew Layden.

Layden asked the same question that so many of us were asking: Why?

“They’re wasting their money and showing off. They could be using it on more important issues like hunger, climate change, homelessness,” says recent BGSU grad Emily Fouts.

As much as this may be true in the short-term, Layden says that in the long-term there could be some Earthly benefits to the billionaire space race.

“I’m kind of interested to see if bringing more people into space, and bringing industries into space allows people to build things that are difficult or costly on Earth, or maybe even to start gathering resources from space,” says Layden.

But there could also be a collective cost to expanding human reach farther into the galaxy: resources expended, fossil fuels burned, and space junk created, to name a few.

“We’ve already messed up Earth enough, we don’t need to move it into space too,” says Fouts.

“Will that allow us to develop other ways of producing energy in space and beaming it down to the surface? 20, 30, 100 years down the road, I don’t know. But unless we make some small investments now, we’ll never see those investments develop in the future,” says Layden.

Only time will tell if these private space flights will improve our daily lives, but if it does, most of us won’t be around to see it.

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