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Full Disclousre: Enhanced Radiation Warnings for Space Tourists
it's in the fine print.
Full Disclousre: Enhanced Radiation Warnings for Space Tourists
by Sophie Jenkins
London, UK (SPX) Mar 07, 2024

In a groundbreaking study led by space weather experts at the University of Surrey, there's a growing call for immediate action to safeguard the burgeoning space tourism industry from the invisible threat of cosmic radiation. The study, recently published in Space Policy, emphasizes the urgent need for collaboration between regulators and space tourism companies to enhance passenger and crew protection against space weather radiation exposure.

The Earth's natural defenses, including its atmosphere and magnetic field, shield those on the ground from the relentless barrage of electrically charged particles emanating from the sun. However, this protective barrier weakens with altitude, posing a significantly heightened risk to those embarking on space tourist flights. Space weather, characterized by its unpredictability, harbors the potential to increase radiation exposure dramatically, leading to severe health risks such as DNA damage and an elevated cancer risk.

Despite these known dangers, the study points out a glaring deficiency in current space tourism practices: a lack of sufficient information and warnings provided to space tourists regarding cosmic radiation exposure. Chris Rees, the lead author of the study and a postgraduate researcher at Surrey Space Centre, emphasizes the industry's nascent stage and the anticipated rapid growth, which underscores the pressing need for protective measures against cosmic radiation, especially during abrupt changes in space weather.

Echoing Rees's concerns, JR Catchpole, co-author of the paper and a space law expert at Foot Anstey LLP, advocates for international regulatory action. Catchpole highlights the responsibility of industry pioneers, such as Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, to ensure the safety of their passengers through informed consent, necessitating more robust warnings and clearer information about the potential risks involved.

The study outlines several key recommendations aimed at bolstering safety within the space tourism sector. It calls for regulatory bodies and the industry to forge a closer working relationship to develop practical and effective regulations that keep pace with technological advancements. The establishment of international standards is deemed essential for ensuring consistent regulations across the globe. Moreover, the study stresses the importance of clear information for space tourists and the need for enhanced monitoring of cosmic radiation during short space flights, all while encouraging innovation within this nascent industry.

The paper also delves into the current legislative and regulatory landscape in the USA and the UK, highlighting the limitations and challenges of existing frameworks in adequately addressing the unique risks associated with space tourism. Feedback from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on current regulations and outlined topics is acknowledged, contributing to a comprehensive discussion on the sufficiency of protection for space flight participants.

In conclusion, as space tourism edges closer to becoming as commonplace as transatlantic flights, the imperative for a proactive approach to managing cosmic radiation risks cannot be overstated. The study by Rees, Catchpole, and their colleagues serves as a crucial wake-up call for the industry, urging immediate action to safeguard the health and safety of space tourists against the unpredictable vagaries of space weather.

Research Report:A discussion on policies and regulations governing the risks associated with radiation exposure for space tourism flight participants

Related Links
Space Policy
University Of Surrey
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

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