What is hidden behind space tourism sustainability?

Everybody around the world is aware of today’s global environmental issues affecting many different business fields, one of them being the tourism sector and the directly connected space tourism.

Relative to the growing significance of space tourism, the concerns about the sustainability of the field are on the rise as well – both in the public and in the space travel companies. Planning and growing a space tourism sector responsibly will require many agreements and a lot of international co-operation.

Lately, governments have been thinking of the importance given by the large awareness about long-term space sustainability. In the past years, international initiatives have handled some challenges coming from space sustainability. Even though they are just voluntary, they bring up an important move, regarding existing issues of different countries and space actors.

Furthermore, countries like Australia have decided to grow a very expensive space sector. Their idea connects to the appearance of a real big amount of new possible jobs later.

Today, a decision about the future forecast collapse has been made – people need to either change their attitude or to start figuring out how to be able to find new ways to receive their stocks out of non-renewable resources. For example, we can get a lot of mine rare earth metals from space and we could help the solar system, too.

Fortunately, a sustainable framework for space tourism has been created. As mentioned in Annette Toivonen’s “Sustainable planning for space tourism” article, it is a combination of three areas – social, environmental and financial.

But how does the Sustainable Future Planning Framework work?

In her article, Annette Toivonen examines its usage. For example, the framework can foresee the potential future human behaviour and actions, the way how the three areas would influence on the sustainability in the future. Based on a couple of different components, such as sustainability, planning, weak signals and future scenarios, the framework can establish ways for operating in an environmentally friendly manner.

Sustainable Future Planning Framework. Annette Toivonen, 2017

Speaking of the environmental side, one of the biggest companies, called SpaceX, is not doing concrete sustainable work. The American company focuses mostly on the financial side and how to make its launches costs lower.

According to Annette Toivonen, “The space tourism industry has been developed as a reflection of current adventure tourism trends. Even though the idea of the creation of space tourism is working against the current sustainable trends, the implementation of the industry could be even more towards the trans modern eco-luxury. There are already actions practised by other tourism sectors, such as aviation, to make even a small step of the process more sustainable and environmentally friendly.”

The Sustainable Future Planning Framework also involves governmental legislation, a lot of data, scientific information and a lot of planning. The other main side is future scenarios. It examines measures for different potential cases and focuses on creating a variety of strategies. Planning must be done, to know what we are doing, what we are reaching, what our goals are and how to get to real success.

Forecasting cannot always be certain, but with a lot of action and persistency, potential development can be noticed in the new space tourism sector. Even if space tourism is being already taken as a real activity, it is still facing challenges. By keeping awareness and working on enriching our knowledge about Space, we would be able to travel there and back in a sustainable way.

“Future thinking, project management skills and dealing with complexity and uncertainty are some of the major competencies required for governing sustainability. Controlled tourism development requires special organisational structures and regulations, and governance, cultures and resources influence the decisions made regarding the space tourism sector at both local and global levels.” – Annette Toivonen.

Annette Toivonen has a global tourism educational and professional background and she is currently finalizing her PhD thesis in space tourism in the University of Lapland, Finland. Annette has been a guest speaker in different conferences and panels regarding future space tourism, published academic articles and written in two forthcoming books on sustainable space tourism. Annette is the co-creator of the Responsible Space Tourism module in Haaga-Helia UAS. Annette is about to publish her own book “Sustainable Space Tourism – An Introduction”.

By Stefani Vasileva, Tourism and Event Management student, Haaga-Helia UAS

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