Space Tourism: Understanding the Dangers of Space Radiations


Space tourism is on the rise and several travel companies are working hard to take many tourists to space. Several space agencies are working hard to reach Mars and establish a permanent human presence on the red planet and the moon within the next few years. Even more, each person who plans to travel to space will tell you that it is an experience they will not want to miss.

Space tourism is unlike the conventional traveling that happens on earth. As the name suggests, it involves traveling beyond the earth’s atmosphere and entering space for leisure. When preparing for your space travel, one of the concerns you will face is space radiation and its effects. In this post, we will tell you what space radiation is, how it affects space travelers and the steps space travel companies are taking to protect their clients.

What is Space Radiation?

Space radiation is made up of atoms that lose their electrons when accelerating in the interstellar space to speeds close to that of light. Eventually, only their nucleus remain and it is believed that the radiation has implications on the human DNA, body tissues, and body cells.

There are three types of space radiations, including the particles already to trapped inside the earth’s atmosphere, particles released to space during solar flares, and galactic cosmic rays. Galactic cosmic rays are the dominating radiations and they can cause the ionization of atoms passing through space.

The rays can penetrate matter, such as the materials used to build spacecraft, and the skin of astronauts, easily. For that reason, much effort has been directed towards designing better space tourism vehicles to protect the tourists.

How Space Radiation Affects Tourists

As we have already stated, space radiations are dangerous. The energy that the ionizing radiation loses as it passes through tissues is sucked up by the material. The ionization of water and the body cell components leads to the breakdown of the DNA strand.

Cosmic radiations have secondary effects too. The secondary effects arise when more particles, such as neutrons are made. The amount of radiation space tourists get exposed to highly depends on several factors. They include:

  • The orbital inclination – Radiations are higher at the areas closer to the earth’s poles.
  • Altitude above the earth – Space touristsare more exposed at higher altitudes because the magnetic field of the earth is usually weak at high heights.
  • Solar Cycle – The sun follows a solar cycle or a magnetic activity cycle which is an almost 11-year change in the activities of the sun. The radiations are usually high during the high sunspots periods of the 11-year solar cycle.

The Efforts Space Travel Companies are taking to Protect Tourists

The space tourism industry is growing rapidly and the companies are directing research into understanding the effects of radiation on visitors. They are also developing methods of protecting the tourists. According to the president of Transmashholding, Andrey Bokarev, every travel company should work hard to deliver value for its clients. Here are some of the strategies space travel companies have adopted to ensure the safety of their clients.

  • Shielding: Every space vehicle should have capsules and shielding made of special materials that can prevent the entry of harmful radiations. Most travel companies prefer this method.
  • Protective Clothing: Apart from the shielding of space vehicles, space travel companies require their space tourists to wear protective clothing. The purpose of the protective clothing is to further reduce radiation exposure. If a space trip has to take a long time, the travel crew will have to check the level of exposure more often.

Space radiation is a serious problem for people traveling to space. Still, you should not fear because travel companies have taken several steps to ensure that the travelers are safe. Some of the companies that have adopted effective strategies to protect their clients include Virgin Galactic, Orion Span, and Space X.