Ethics of Commercial and Military Space

Astronomy Cast


I'm Fraser. Cain publisher of University with me as always Dr Pamela. Gay a senior scientist for the Planetary Science Institute and the Director of Bus Hip Pamela. Hey doing I'm doing well. How are you doing fraser a once again? The weather's just getting better and better. The apocalypse has never looked so. Lovely Garden is getting out of control. Is the chief sentence. It is now in control and we've got to cut it back. There's just too many plants too much grass too much weeds. I got many weeks ahead of me at this point out in the garden. The day of the trip is trying to be upon you exactly every year. More and more people are making their way to space. Some private citizens have already gotten their astronaut wings paying for a trip to space out of their own pocket. What are the ethical implications of this as the cost of spaceflight? Come down so we've got a new series. We're going to do like at least a two part series. Maybe at most two part series home. But this week we're going to talk about private spaceflight and just what are the ethical issues with this? Next week we will talk about military spaceflight. We're GONNA talk about Space Force. Although I think if we got timing a little better we could do. The episode after Space Force COMES OUT THE NEW TV show. Oh Yeah we can pull that off. Can we may thirty first. So let's talk about today. We'll talk about space tourism. The new movie that is planned next week will look at the trade off between commercial space and scientific exploration from the ground. So issues like the iridium satellites and of space resources for economic purposes. And then we'll go to space force. Okay now we've done two episodes about space tourism to fourteen and four fifty one to cover too much ground. But I think the thing that I found very interesting was just the way you had proposed it. Which is let's deal with the commercial and the ethics of this situation and we'll sort of see where that gets US first. Let's just talk about like? How do you define private spaceflight? When the purpose is the economic benefits of the parent company and its shareholders over the advancement of science and exploration causes that benefit mankind rather than stakeholders and. I mean like one version. That could very well be space. Tourism that you've got a space tourism company that is sending people on flights and they're having fun in going to the zero g hotel and enjoying themselves or flying to the moon and printing about on the moon in that low gravity but that is really just a sub set of what private spaceflight could look like so when you think about that larger umbrella. What are some other examples of the kinds of missions? We'd be run privately. Well this is where we start looking at. And this is what triggered this for me Sending people to spaced film adventure movies rather than to do the normal peacekeeping educational and scientific endeavors that take place on the space station even space tourists up until now have pretty much been tasked with. We're going to train you like an astronaut. You're GONNA do education stuff while you're up there too. And Hey we may throw you a bone and give you a little bit of science to do right but right now. Tom Cruise is looking to partner with spacex to partner with NASA and this has been tweeted out by NASA administrator. Jim Breitenstein they're gonNA film a not mission impossible but certainly an impossible mission on the International Space Station. Yeah I can't even imagine how awful difficult that process is going to be. I think I had a chance to interview someone who took the Imax seventy millimeter imax cameras up on the space station and tried to make a documentary. They gable the gave the astronauts. They taught them how to use these cameras than they had to. Fly Up with these cameras and try to shoot what they were doing. While they're up there and then send the footage back down or it was on the space shuttle. Anyway it was tough. Because it's a great big bulky professional camera that shoots an enormous amount of film at this huge aspect ratio. And it's a real challenge and so same thing right. Does he do his own shooting? Do you send up another person. Who's who does can handle camera sound hair makeup fright to the Astros get involved so I just. The details of this are blowing my mind but I think when you when we look at just all of human existence today and we think about all the trips that human beings take the vast majority of them are private right. When you fly in an airplane you know ninety nine point nine nine. Nine percent of the airplane flights are for private purposes. You are on a trip. You are carrying cargo. You are doing this. And then every now and then some would fly the airplane to a hurricane or you know to take some aerial footage of a of a drought. And that's the scientific purposes but the vast majority into. Why wouldn't it be that into the future? This is where it starts to become a how the numbers work out. And what is the ethics of this kind of question and in the frame of reference? I'm using for this is when I was a graduate student at McDonald Observatory. We'd periodically get. Vip's coming through the telescope and no matter what we're observing for science at that moment we had to kind of put it on the back burner and yeah. We'd bang the keys that we needed to keep things more or less going in a timely fashion but we had to pay attention to these guests who might be funders who might potentially help keep our science going one more year with the money. They might give the Observatory. And this okay. We are a not for profit. Enterprise we exist thanks to the generosity of our donors thanks to our competitiveness in peer reviewed science funding opportunities and thanks to our benefit actors in the state government who give us line item budgets. We know that we exist by the grace of all of these different humans and so we have to dance like the dancing monkey when they appear to keep them happy. That is of the job that we are. All aware of and astronauts are fully aware that that is also part of their job. They are all given amounts of media-training they're given massive amounts of here are effective ways to communicate complex ideas how to work a crowd how to be this stem educator. Even though they may be training pilot an engineer a doctor a myriad of other different things geophysicist. But they're all trained to be educators in the role of astronauts and when they're on the International Space Station. They know part of their is going to be on video cons with girl scouts to Judge Science Fair from outer space to do all these different feel-good tasks that remind everyone. Hey we have astronauts so the funding keeps flowing. We know that's part of the job. But that's a few moments a few hours out of your day and what we're looking at here is filming a movie in Outer Space. We don't know how long Tom Cruise and whoever else might be on the International Space Station but what we do know is while they're up there there. It's a twenty four hour gig in a large way and so now. Instead of being there a stem professionals benefiting mankind inspiring engaging educating their crew on a movie that the movie's primary goal is to have a great storyline and earn a whole lot of profit. And so where is the ethics in having our astronauts instead of engaging people in Wasilla educate them about space having them work crew on a film

Coming up next