Are You Ready For Commercial Space Travel?

There are possibilities opening up for commercial space travel, albeit very expensive space travel.

But are human beings really ready to do it?

For a shorter mission, what could people expect to happen to their bodies in space? Doctors in NASA’s Chief Health and Medical Officer, Dr. JD Polk, told Salon that for a “very short flight into suborbital space,” the major issue is Space Adaptation Syndrome — a condition marked by nausea and sometimes vomiting from the "neurovestibular mismatch" when someone first enters space. Space Adaptation Syndrome is also referred to as space sickness, and it can last up to three days. When a human first leaves Earth’s atmosphere, relative directions can become disorientating as the vestibular system — which sends the brain information about motion, equilibrium and spatial orientation — is impacted by the lack of weight in space.

Astronauts have recalled instances in which they couldn’t remember where their limbs were (imagine not knowing where your leg was located) or what direction is up or down....

Even the most well-trained astronauts have neared unstable mental states during and after space missions, and understandably so. “The more confined and isolated humans are, the more likely they are to develop behavioral or cognitive conditions, and psychiatric disorders,” NASA explains.

(Via Salon.)

Commercial space travel has long been a staple in science fiction.


(The cover of Amazing Stories, December, 1939)

Consider the phrase "space liner", which was introduced in the 1930's. Jack Williamson was most likely first in 1931 in his story Twelve Hours to Live:

For three days, Captain Grant had kept his great space-liner, with her rich cargo of uranium salts from the mines on the outer satellite of Neptune and her hundreds of passengers...
(Read more about space-liner)

John W. Campbell wasn't far behind; this excerpt is from Electronic Siege in 1932:

A stream of famous scientists had been coming aboard the space liner Vega all afternoon.
(Read more about space liner)

By the 1950's, the idea of commercial space travel was old hat, and maybe as tedious as a long bus ride; this excerpt is from The Space Merchants, a wonderful 1952 novel by the great team of Frederik Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth:

It wasn't a pleasant trip; it was a miserable trip on a miserable, undersized tourist rocket...
(Read more about tourist rocket)

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