The Meaning and Value of Spaceflight: Public Perceptions (Space and Society)

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Oleg Gazenko, as stating that the limitations to human living in space are not physical but psychological p. My purpose here is simply to bring to the reader's consciousness the reality that NASA does have a culture and that culture pervades its decisions, plans, operations, and activities. One might even take the chapter headings of the volume Corporate Cultures and use them to assess NASA's values, heroes, rites and rituals, communications, and tribes Deal and Kennedy As reported in a variety of contemporary management books, from the one just mentioned to In Search of Excellence, research supports the conclusion that excellent organizations have strong functional cultures.

Since its founding, NASA surely has created its share of space leaders, legends, myths, beliefs, symbols, visions, and goals-the stuff of meaningful organizational cultures. But, as Peters and Waterman reminded us, In the very institutions in which culture is so dominant, the highest levels of true autonomy occur. The culture regulates rigorously the few variables that do count, and provides meaning.

Theme: Space Heritage

But within those qualitative values and in almost all other dimensions , people are encouraged to stick out, to innovate. Peters and Waterman Thus, if NASA is to provide the world with the technological springboard into the 21st century, these questions are in order: Does NASA now have the necessary innovative and entrepreneurial culture to provide leadership for its own renewal and the enormous human expansion into space? Or is it trapped inside both bureaucratic and technical cultures that inhibit its contributions to the next stage of space development? Has NASA adequately redefined and projected its present organizational image and purpose to its own personnel, the Congress, and the public at large?

Or is it suffering again as it did after three astronauts were killed in the Apollo capsule fire from an identity crisis and a dysfunctional culture? As NASA moves beyond its institutional beginnings into the next stage of organizational development, maturation would seem to require transformation. Perhaps the present structure is no longer suitable for this growth process and it needs to become a more autonomous agency. Does the Tennessee Valley Authority provide a model for this structural change? Perhaps it should be part of a global space agency that represents both public and private space interests-first in the freeenterprise nations and someday even in the Communist bloc.

Perhaps NASA needs to enter into new relationships and ventures with contractors, whether in the aerospace industry or in other multinational industries. It was encouraging to know that the NASA administrator advocated decentralization in the organization, putting operational responsibility at the center level. However, in the trend was being reversed with demand for strong headquarters management and inauguration of a new technical management information system.

To meet the space challenges of the future, NASA would do well to consider planned changes in its own organizational culture. Technological, economic, political, and social changes by will demand such adjustments, and many present organizational structures, roles, operations, and arrangements such as a centralized mission control will be obsolete. Emergence of a New Space Culture The habitation of Skylab, Spacelab, Salyut, and Mir by a few dozen humans is the precedent not only for space station life but also for space culture. Whether astronauts or cosmonauts, they were humans learning to cope with a new environment marked by a lack of gravity.

For most, it appears to have been an enjoyable experience, despite minor inconveniences caused by space sickness or excessive demands from experiment controllers on the ground. Whether inside or outside the space suits and capsules, these people learned to adapt and they proved that human life in space is possible, even practical. These innovators simply transported into space the macroculture of the country that sponsored their space voyage. The U.

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In the decade of the s, the duration of missions and the number of humans in space will increase as more permanent types of space stations are constructed in orbit and expanded in size. Perhaps the Americans will name these initial space communities after their space pioneers and heroes, like Goddard, Von Braun, and Armstrong; while the Russians may name theirs after space luminaries like Tsiolkovsky, Korolev, and Gagarin. Then the real challenge of creating a new space culture will get under way. A major human activity of the 21 st century will be the building of space communities.

Already, Rep. George Brown D-Calif. Congress that would authorize NASA to provide leadership in space settlements. The issue for consideration now is whether this process will be planned or unplanned. In the United States, for example, there exists a whole body of literature and research in cultural anthropology that could be most useful in the design of a space culture.

Anthropologists are beginning to probe this new reality and to look for insights their field can contribute see Finney's paper in this volume. Will NASA, for example, use the nation's anthropologists in the planning of a lunar base? If the human composition of that enterprise is to be multicultural, as is likely, will the agency call on international experts in cross-cultural psychology and anthropology? Perhaps NASA should join with its colleagues in the Japanese and European space agencies in sponsoring a summer study of behavioral scientists to address matters related to the emerging space culture.

Space gives us an opportunity to establish a living laboratory to promote peaceful international relations. For example, suppose the sponsors of a particular space station or base were to have as a goal the establishment of a synergistic society on the high frontier. Anthropologist Ruth Benedict and psychologist Abraham Maslow have already provided us with a glimpse of human behavior under such circumstances.

Imagine a space community in which the cultural norms supported collaboration and cooperation rather than excessive individualism and competition. Such considerations take on special relevance in light of proposals for a joint U. A space culture that espouses synergy might have a better chance for survival and development than one that did not.

We should have learned something from the debacle of Fort Raleigh in , the first "lost colony" of our English forebears. Since culture formation seemingly occurs in response to the physical environment, consider briefly the situation faced by those seeking to establish the first permanent community on the Moon, a base from which we can explore other planets in the universe. It is a remote, alien environment. The longterm inhabitants would have to adapt their culture to cope with isolation, for they would be a quarter of a million miles away from home, family, and friends on Earth.

The physical realities of life on the Moon would force its inhabitants to adapt their earthbound culture Pitts Remember, the Moon lacks atmosphere, there is no weather there, and there are various kinds of radiation which require protective cover. Back in , astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin confirmed that the lunar surface was firm and could support massive weight.

During the last visit to the Moon, Apollo 17, the first professional scientist on these missions, Dr.

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Harrison Schmitt, conducted geological studies, so we now have some idea of the composition of this body. But there is much we still do not know about the Moon, such as the nature of its poles and whether any of its craters were formed volcanically. Before the turn of this century, it would seem advisable for NASA to follow a Soviet lead and undertake automated missions to gather lunar data if we are to plan adequately for the new space culture on the Moon's surface.

It would require new technology development to exploit lunar resources and define the site for a research outpost and lunar base. The first two phases of site development would rely on automated and cybernated systems. In the third phase, permanent human occupancy by a small group of "astrotechnicians" is projected; then, in the fourth phase, an advanced base with more people would result, possibly by the year To illustrate why serious preparations for a Moon base should include studies of space culture by social scientists, let us view figure 13 A rendering of the Characteristics of Space Culture in the context of a lunar base.

Sense of Self Self-identity and self-acceptance are manifested differently in different cultures. The comfort we feel with ourselves and others, the physical or psychological space we maintain between ourselves and others-these are products of culture. For an international crew on a space station, as an example, there would be differing needs for privacy or personal space. One can speculate as to whether an international community on the Moon should, for the purpose of fostering such comfort, be structured as an open or a closed society.

Personally, I would recommend an open, friendly, informal, and supportive community, such as expatriates often maintain among themselves when far away from their mother country. Though the society of expatriates may be seen as closed to the surrounding society on Earth, such a perspective would be irrelevant in space where humans are alone. Communication Much of our terminology may be inappropriate for the lunar experience. In space, we will need a new vocabulary to replace "up and down" and "day and night.

Will there be one official language or several in use? If the first crews and settlers are international in makeup, is English to be preferred or should all be fluent in two languages? If Americans were to undertake a joint mission to Mars with the Soviets, for instance, then both English and Russian would probably be required. Certainly, we can expect extensive use of computers and satellites for communication, but what will be the procedures and the pattern of interactions between humans on the Earth and on the Moon, and how will the means of communication affect the cultural expansion?

Dress Culture is also expressed in garments and adornments. We may or may not want uniforms with mission patches, but lunar conditions will dictate certain types of clothing or space suits. They will have to be designed to serve a variety of purposes from protection to comfort. In , for example, the first female to walk in space, cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya, commented that her space suit was not elastic enough and that she had to expend too much energy for each movement Oberg Some scientists have described the Moon as an impossible environment for humans, but so was the Earth for the first living things there they coped by staying in the sea for the first two billion years!

Humans will adapt to lunar conditions which require them to wear life support systems when they leave their protective habitats. That necessity will be incorporated into the new culture, and it will alter behavior from that on Earth. David Criswell, director of the Consortium for Space and Terrestrial Automation and Robotics C-STAR , believes that astronauts in space suits are like disabled or handicapped persons, and that space planners could learn much from the field of rehabilitative medicine Twenty-first century clothing styles on the home planet may be very much influenced by styles that develop for the lunar surface or for interstellar travel.

Explorers and scientists in the Antarctic have tended to grow beards and longer hair. We wonder what lunar dwellers will do. Perhaps they'll shave off all their hair to keep from having to tuck it into their space suits every time they don them. Food The diet and eating procedures of a group of people set it apart from other groups. We are all aware of NASA's pioneering in food technologies and compositions, so that even our own intake here on Earth has been altered by the astronaut experience.

However, because of transportation costs, we will have to cut back on the amount and type of food cargo from Earth and depend on new closed biological systems to provide human sustenance. Hydroponic farming, featuring plants suspended in nets above circulating liquids that provide nutrients, may prove a boon. With traditional foodstuffs at a premium, the new culture may focus on high-quality and high-energy nourishment, thereby affecting the breed of both humans and other animals in space.

Although the lunar cuisine may not be as pleasant as that of the mining camps in the Old West, its preparation, presentation, and eating will surely alter the culture. One certainty is that food packages will not be disposable but rather recyclable. Let us hope habitat planners make up somewhat for the rations and regimen by providing a view of the Earth in the dining and drinking area. Or will there be any views from these modules buried in lunar regolith for protection from radiation? Time Consciousness The sense of time differs by culture, and yet lunar inhabitants will have to keep in touch with mission control.

Will the hour time system prevail on the high frontier? Or will the exact sense of time gradually be replaced by a relative one, like that of traditional farmers who go by sunrise and sunset and seasonal changes? That particular time sense would of course have a different expression on the lunar surface, where the "day" lasts for 2 weeks and so does the "night. Will the long periods of darkness and isolation incline the first Moon colonists toward suicide, as NATO has found its soldiers posted in northern countries to be?

Will they suffer with manic behavior, as some Swedes do after their annual dark periods? If one needed change, one could move around the Moon from areas of darkness to areas of light. But what will happen to the whole concept of day and year, so much a part of the human heritage? Relationships Cultures fix human and organizational relationships by age, sex, and degree of kinship, as well as by wealth, power, and wisdom.

The first lunar inhabitants are likely to establish relationships on the basis of professionalism or their respective disciplines. They will be scientists and technicians, civilian and military. Theirs will be primarily work or organizational relationships, even if they are of different nationalities.

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Because the first colonists will be knowledge workers that is, people who work with information and ideas , there is likely to be comparative social equality among them. Eventually, the founders will gain special status in the community. The first element to alter the arrangement will be male-female relations. Eventually, this will lead to the first pregnancy on the lunar surface. As more and more people go to the Moon, there will be legal and illegal liaisons and eventually children will be born on the Moon, and someday on Mars.

Angel Colon of Georgetown University Medical School has already anticipated the situation with his research on space pediatrics. New familial arrangements will emerge Oberg and Oberg It remains to be seen whether monogamy, polygamy, or polyandry will become the norm in 21st century space communities. If the first lunar colonists are only males, homosexuality may become prevalent; whereas, if mixed groups are sent, then heterosexuality will be the basis for many relationships.

Astronaut Michael Collins proposes that six married couples be selected for any manned mission to Mars. Should the makeup of the first crew be purely civilian, then we could expect one lifestyle; whereas, if military people are included, then we would expect another lifestyle including rank and protocol. The issue of such relationships will affect governance, housing assignments, and social life. Another unique feature of space culture will be human-machine relationships. Automation will dominate not only the transportation system but also the exploration and life support processes Freitas and Gilbreath , Automation and Robotics Panel Humans may form new attachments to their helpers, especially as designers program more humanlike capabilities and features into these extensions of ourselves.

Inventive applications of artificial intelligence on the Moon may not only facilitate functions in lunar communities but also serve as tests of expert systems, which may then be transferred to Earth. Knowledge engineering will accelerate as a result of space development, and space culture will feature teleknowledge information developed by technical transmission and telepresence. Values The need system of the space culture will be unique, and out of it will evolve special priorities to ensure survival and development. In time, these priorities will form the value system of the lunar base.

As the colonists move up on the hierarchy of needs, their values will change.

Reimagining Icarus: Ethics, Law and Policy Considerations for Commercial Human Spaceflight

The resulting value system will in turn influence the norms or standards of the lunar community-that is, acceptable behavior in that situation. It is these mutual premises that will determine whether the colonists are pleased, annoyed, or embarrassed by the conduct of their fellows. Eventually, this process will produce conventions that are passed along to each new group of lunar settlers, so that the preferred practices of privacy, deference, etiquette, and gift giving will be established. For example, it is conceivable that these lunar pioneers may ban all talk of Earth accomplishments, happenings, or experience and focus only on what is done on the Moon or in space.

They may learn to value the people on the space station, who supply them, more than remote people on the home planet, even when they represent the government. Falk's premise is that this sort of value consensus before settlement would influence recruitment and selection of space personnel, as well as provide an ethical orientation for their training. Beliefs People's lives, attitudes, and behavior are motivated by spiritual themes and patterns which may take the form of philosophy, religion, or transcendental convictions.

If the population of a lunar community is international, the space culture emerging on the Moon might include beliefs from the Earth's religious traditionsprimarily Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and even Confucianism. However, since such belief systems are also reflections of new stages in human development, space dwellers may create their own unique form of " cosmic consciousness" that raises the human race to a new level of being and perceives the oneness of the human family.

For example, suppose a space colony were developed on the basis of a belief in synergy; the members would then be dedicated to creating a synergistic society through cooperation. Mental Processes The way people think and learn varies by culture because of different emphasis on brain development and education.

Space culture, for instance, may offer humanity a rare opportunity to focus on whole, not split, brain development. Obviously, modern communication technology and satellites will have a primary position in information sharing and knowledge development. For education and training, the first lunar colonists will rely on computers and a data bank, as well as on a variety of modern media alternatives. Self instructional systems will be widely employed, and all in the group will be expected to share their expertise and competencies with each other as circumstances require. Assuming that a multicultural community develops, a synergy may emerge between Eastern and Western cultural orientations to learning, so that an integration of logic, conceptualization, abstract thinking, and intuition may evolve.

We can anticipate a new reasoning process being created in space, especially with wider applications of artificial intelligence. With the removal of many ground-based blinders and binders, the creative process may be unleashed and human potential actualized. Work Habits One way of analyzing a culture is to examine how the society produces its goods and services and conducts its economic affairs. The work culture in space will be metaindustrial and will feature the use of high technology.

In the beginning, the work will be performed outside using cumbersome space suits to provide life support. Or it will be done by robots, operating automatically or under the manual guidance of humans, who may remain in a protected habitat. On the surface of the Moon, for instance, this work may involve the mining, transportation and distribution, and processing of lunar materials. Human vocational activity will include the operation and repair of communication satellites, the creation of solar power stations, and the conversion of solar power into microwaves for transmission to Earth and subsequent reconversion to electricity.

The first space stations, as well as bases on the Moon, and subsequently on Mars, will involve much construction using new space materials and designs to build habitats and factories, communication and storage facilities, and other necessary structures. The early space workers will focus on the transformation of nonterrestrial resources into useful supplies, such as oxygen, water, and cement.

The nonterrestrial workers will use zero or low gravity to facilitate their labor, and they will take advantage of the vacuum. All of this work will require extensive use of computers and automation, and the "tin collar worker," or robot, will be a principal ally. Such unusual work activities will influence the direction of the culture.

The roles of knowledge workers and technical workers will probably be enhanced. Since those who get into the first space communities are likely to be highly selected, competence in one's field of expertise and multi-skillfulness are norms that will probably emerge. The space culture will reflect these worklife changes in art and artifacts as well as in technology. The new space enterprises and the culture thus created are a fruitful arena for social science research.

Furthermore, these developments will have enormous impact on Earthbased work cultures. It may very well develop as a multinational facility for spacefaring peoples-a foretaste of 21st century life and culture. Space Personnel Deployment System The movement of large numbers of people from their native country to a foreign one has spurred increasing interest, especially on the part of transnational corporations, in the phenomena of culture shock and reentry shock.

When people are rapidly transported from their home culture to a strange environment abroad, they may experience severe disorientation, confusion, and anxiety. Their sense of identity is threatened when they are removed from the comfortable and familiar and thrust into the uncertain and unknown. Such expatriates, particularly overseas managers and technicians who may be away from home for many months or years, go through a transitional experience that may include such phases as growing awareness of differences, rage, introspection, and integration.

Many multinational businesses have relocation services, as well as crosscultural orientation and training programs, to facilitate acculturation of personnel to the new environment with its changes and challenges. In a previous publication, I have proposed that various aspects of foreign deployment support services be systematized Harris and Moran Such an approach could be adapted for Earth people going into space to establish first construction bases and then planned communities. Figure 14 rendering of a space personnel deployment system depicts my conception of a space personnel deployment system.

At the moment, it is unlikely that spacefarers will have to deal with extraterrestrial "foreigners" but they will have to cope with all the other aspects of adaptation to a new cultural environment. Research by Harrison and Connors on groups in exotic environments is relevant. Their "exotic environments" include polar camps, submarines, offshore oil rigs, space capsules any isolated and remote living situation. Such experiences can assist in planning life in space stations and settlements.

We can thus prevent or limit the psychological "shock" of isolation, loneliness, and strangeness that humans may experience when living on the high frontier for many months or even years. The following outline of a system for intercultural preparation and evaluation is proposed for further research by NASA. It could avoid or reduce the depression, withdrawal, hostility, paranoia, and other mental health problems that may afflict space travelers, and thus it could contribute to mission success. Assessment In the next decades of space development, sponsoring organizations should take care in the selection of space settlers, workers, and travelers.

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Whether the group is a national space agency, an aerospace contractor, a commercial enterprise, a government department, a media company, or a tourist firm, it should be responsible for the spacefarer's well-being, as well as the impact of that person on the space community. Better to screen out potential misfits than to attempt to provide care and rehabilitation in space. The FAA voluntary guidance on human spaceflight requirements is likewise limited in scope to a brief human presence in space.

In the absence of a comprehensive space regulatory regime and the acknowledged fact that spaceflight is an inherently dangerous activity, the ethical obligations for commercial launch operations and space station operators are heightened. Ethical practices and public policy would suggest that operators adopt similar standards of care as that of other analogous public transportation providers—airlines and ocean cruise liners, for instance—even when not legally mandated.

The higher the ethical standards adopted in practice the less likely a commercial space operator is to be found negligent in the event of an accident. In law, negligence constitutes a breach of duty which implies an ethical and legal responsibility , so applying the highest standard of care towards SFPs as well as crewmembers from the outset, even if more costly, significantly serves the commercial operators best interests and greater good.

For instance, a demonstration of a high standard of care may include: instituting clear informed consent procedures throughout the space flight and in-orbit residence; ensuring up-to-date emergency training, medical preparedness, technologies and accessibility; in-flight biometrics and health monitoring; engaging relevant expertise and experts on substantive questions and concerns; establishing reliable communications, event reporting practices; and customized personnel passenger assistance.

As a result the legal, public policy and ethical dimensions of this issue are convoluted. The current regulatory exclusion of minors from spaceflight therefore suggest a distinct periphery of risk that society has not yet deliberately addressed. Research on humans in space may feature in several ways, as an active participant consenting to a medical study or test; or indirectly, as a SFP or crewmember whose medical screening and health data is collected and analyzed for studying the effects of spaceflight on healthy individuals, those with particular pathologies, or for comparative demographic purposes.

In point of fact, NASA astronauts routinely serve as test subjects in space for medical and scientific purposes, and private astronauts to the International Space Station have been sponsored by national space agencies to conduct medical research and tests on themselves while in space. Consequently, it is foreseeable that these activities will occur with commercial SFPs. Given the novelty of the technology and scope of uncertainty in regard to spaceflight on human physiology, psychology and sociology, the pioneers in commercial spaceflight, whether deemed healthy crewmembers or SFPs, are in many ways participatory subjects of an ongoing experiment.

Moral and legal issues of collecting medical data from pre-flight and post-flight screenings and assessments from adult participants may be satisfied by applying ethically established protocols, procedures, and obtaining valid informed consent from each participant. Commercial companies and individuals interested in leading human studies and trials in space should follow the proper channels for conducting human research studies. This usually means obtaining authorization from the appropriate university or Institution Review Boards, independent ethics committees, national ethics committees etc.

Following the example of governmental space agencies e. NASA, ESA commercial research investigators in space should also comply with the research principles of the World Medical Association incorporated in the Declaration of Helsinki, and relevant national regulations and guidelines e. When the industry matures to the point of enabling safe routine flights and lawmakers allow for minors to participate in spaceflight activities as SFPs, these ethical concerns and duties will likely be heightened.

As with adults, at some point healthy children will become space pioneers if the medical and space communities are to obtain any significant medical data on the physiological effects of spaceflight on this demographic. In general, ethics is the study of what should to be done. What should be done does not equate with what can be done. In theory, philosophical arguments hold that ethics are universalizable—a valid ethical principle that applies to one should apply to all. However, in life value principles, rules and practices frequently diverge across cultural groups [ 12 ].

This is particularly true in the field of bioethics and where human initiatives carry risk and great uncertainty, such as exploration and invention. The more an action, implementation measure or enterprise deviates from the certainty of the status quo, the higher the unprecedented risk. Some distinctions indicate comparative perspectives between western and non-western cultures and values.

Yet distinctions can also be found within similar cultural regions. Looking forward, decision-makers and international space forums will benefit from engaging in transcultural dialog and value reciprocity discussions on human risk and commercial ventures in space. Uphold beneficence—using spaceflight to benefit society, this includes transportation, entertainment, scientific research and exploration. Seek and maintain a favorable and acceptable balance of risk of harm and potential for benefit in spaceflight operations. Fidelity—recognize individual contributions of crew and SFPs as appropriate, and honor societal obligations to employees.

Risk is a social construction, a determination subjective to culture, context, perception and communication of an identifiable or potential hazard versus opportunity [ 14 ]. This understanding is particularly relevant to the nature, risks and perceived benefits inherent to human spaceflight. The United States and Russia, for instance, present great risk-taking cultures and histories, particularly in regard to rocket launches and spaceflight activities. On a practical level both these nations also have greater technological capabilities, government sponsorship, and the national resources to take on big risks, such as transporting humans into Earth orbit and beyond.

On the cultural level individual independence and autonomy are deemed fundamental values in American culture, and this is particularly evident in the national space culture. While legally it may be permissible for individuals to engage voluntarily in extremely hazardous activities in countries and cultures that are neutral or favorable to voluntary risk, there is no clear comparative ethical evaluation on moral standards directly addressing the issue in the public debate on spaceflight.

One of the precepts of an ethical principle is its universalizability. If a principle should apply to one person, ethics generally dictates that it should apply to all. Fairness and equity for instance are principles applied in ethics, public policy and law, and yet even here societal value determinations can diverge between cultures. A particular gap can be seen between existing spacefaring nations and non-spacefaring nations.

Which implies that voluntary risk is not purely a matter of individual autonomy but also coincides with a vested interest of society in maintaining a collective value. This is where public policy comes in and requires a practical balancing approach to leverage these two distinct ethical rights. With regard to ensuring public health and ethics in public policy, questions have been raised that distinguish the choices and consequences of the wealthy over the non-wealthy.

But is there a moral distinction? Spaceflight advocates argue that people should be allowed to take risks that they voluntarily choose to participate in, and can pay for this may include event tickets, mandatory insurance, and applicable fees. A prime example can be seen in extreme sports, such as undertaking to climb Mount Everest—a high-risk activity that does in fact claim lives every year, and that routinely calls on state resources for emergency response.

From a legal perspective there is no significant distinction between one who voluntarily engages in an extreme sport or activity costing tens of thousands of dollars and the average person who wins or is gifted a ticket. Both are engaging in the activity and both persons must provide voluntary and informed consent to partake in the activity. From an ethical perspective, valid points of consideration call for an evaluation of the fundamental issue at play: should we indulge the whims of the wealthy because they can choose to pay for an experience?

If so, how far does this autonomy extend? And how do principles of ethics and justice apply to commercial spaceflight? These are questions that merit acknowledgement and discussion looking forward. There are varying degrees of paternalism that allow for less or more abrogation of personal autonomy analogously seen, for example, with bioethical questions involving body modification, extreme surgeries, drug use etc.

The overall question that deserves to be acknowledged here for spaceflight is to what extent can the average reasonable person engage in an extreme and dangerous activity? And what are the ethical parameters for state interference in regard to this autonomy? These ethics questions deserve acknowledgement because practically the conclusion may differ depending on the subjective country, culture, social norms and values, the type of legal system e.

Raising and evaluating these ethical and bioethical issues, serves to maintain the overarching human good—the fundamental reason for morality—through respect for human autonomy, dignity and life [ 12 ]. Consequently, the resulting issue presented here is how to identify, define and approach an optimal bioethical framework that can and should be applied to the commercial space transportation industry as a whole. The Outer Space Treaty applies only one requirement to individual spacefarers. This is the only personal duty required of astronauts under the international space law regime, and stems from traditional maritime principles and law of the sea.

Thus it is unclear whether commercial launch operators and SFPs fall under this treaty provision. The significance of distinguishing SFPs from astronauts under the treaty directly relates to implications of SFP health, safety and law. A legal duty to render assistance would exclude SFPs who are unwilling or unable to do so. For instance, Stephen Hawking would be unable to render assistance to another person on a suborbital flight even if cleared by a physician and launch operator. This also raises additional liability issues for the SFPs and the launch operator as the personal liability waiver is not generally concluded between passengers.

Any commercial astronaut with limited fitness and related restrictions will likely fail to comply with this international obligation. What then? The underlying ethical question raised here is whether a moral duty to render possible assistance to other persons in space exists, regardless of whether one is a SFP or crewmember. This is also a question of public policy. The practical ethics and legal implications of this question have yet to be addressed by the greater space community. The objectives of human health and safety are fundamental values where technology is concerned.

Given the wide scope of commercial space activities proposed and human spaceflight experience gained to date, future health and medical events are a high possibility. This leads to two ethical implications for space technology and ethics pertaining to human spaceflight: Duty to report safety concerns —One of the acknowledged lessons of the Challenger accident is the reminder of professional responsibility and ethics of engineers and operation managers to voice concerns in regard to launch activities.

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Launch operators should also institute policy and procedures for reporting and evaluating concerns and issues, whether related to operational, personnel or technical issues, from employees, SFPs and any concerned third parties. This includes, medical equipment and appropriate facilities. Priority conflicts can arise, however, when space, weight, size, mission objective and fuel are limited. For instance, when determining which medical equipment and supplies should be included. Operators, will inevitably face competing interests, like NASA, in vehicle and mission design and will have to arrive at ethical determinations on these critical issues.

A baseline approach is to maintain equal or equivalent health and safety requirements by analogous transportation systems, such as maritime and aviation. This may include: medical trained personnel, medications in various forms, and essential medical equipment. Other inherent implications of spaceflight may affect environmental health and safety.

For instance, the type of vehicle, fuel, ejected debris, and biological contamination may all effect the Earth and space environment. Human space settlements and activities on celestial bodies are likely to raise additional and convoluted ethical and practical questions with regard to the environment and human health.

Space Flight: The Application of Orbital Mechanics

The Outer Space Treaty contains only one provision tangentially applicable to environmental health. Article IX provides for state measures to be taken to avoid forward and backward contamination of Earth from space and vice versa. This is the only provision in the foundational space law instrument that deals with the environment. Other environmental principles may also be applicable to space through the specific application of international law to outer space.

International environmental law is based on ethical principles such as the precautionary principle. The precautionary principle is a risk mitigation strategy that calls for decision makers or regulators to act preemptively to ensure that a harm does not occur rather than wait for scientific certainty on the actual or potential risks of harm from conducting a specific action or series of activities [ 15 ].

The precautionary principle can be applied to anything such as preventative exclusion of SFPs for a medical condition to restricting space mining activities in particular areas or on specific celestial bodies. Another environmental health and ethics issue includes death and funerary rituals. Since private companies, such as Celestis, have been providing commercial space funeral rites, launching capsules with ashes of celebrities and customers into low orbital trajectory, to orbit the Earth a few times before burning up in the atmosphere [ 16 ].

Another company, Elyseum Space, is proposing a similar service to commence late this year, to include sending remains to the Moon and deep space, while providing value added services like Apple friendly app trackers [ 17 ]. The underlying idea is said to bring a poetic and celestial perspective to the human condition. These particular funerary activities in space are deemed to pose little to no risk and have not raised ethical concerns at the present time.

Although, instituting extraterrestrial memorials on celestial terrains may trigger questions on planetary protection and environmental conservation. Looking forward, however, it is not entirely clear what ethical implications and practical medical protocols will develop when a human or perhaps even an animal companion or study subject dies in space.

Such events may result, for instance, from illness, accident, or SFPs planning the ultimate last adventure e. Significantly, it may not always be practical or possible to return a deceased person to Earth.

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As commercial companies progressively seek to engage in long duration and distant missions these are inevitable questions that require societal forethought, moral respect and clear cross-cultural dialog. Private and commercial human spaceflight present a myriad of bioethical, legal and policy implications for consideration. Understanding the fundamental ethical values at stake in the application of new technologies and societal opportunities therefore is a significant step in establishing a practical yet moral and sustainable framework for human expansion into space.

Significantly, the inherent risks involved in spaceflight activities call for incorporating ethical risk management strategies and policies into industry standards and practices, even where not already instituted or mandated by law. As spaceflight progresses towards common carriage, spaceflight is likely to take on the legal and ethical vestiges of common carriers, with passenger rights and higher standards of care afforded to the launch operator as a common carrier.

This chapter raises some of the complex issues and challenges that face the private spaceflight industry and that merit collaborative discussion across states, disciplines and the global space transportation community. Licensee IntechOpen. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3. Help us write another book on this subject and reach those readers. Login to your personal dashboard for more detailed statistics on your publications. Edited by Thais Russomano. Edited by Ramesh K.

By Robert D. Kothera, Benjamin K. Woods, Edward A. Bubert and Norman M. We are IntechOpen, the world's leading publisher of Open Access books. Built by scientists, for scientists. Our readership spans scientists, professors, researchers, librarians, and students, as well as business professionals.