Commercial human spaceflight presents an area for engaging novel human activity and objectives, to include space exploration, entertainment, transportation and extraterrestrial resource acquisition. The inherent dangers and lack of scientific and medical certainty involved however raise interrelated questions of ethics, bioethics, law and public policy. This is particularly the case with spaceflight participant (SFP) screening, selection, and commercial human spaceflight activities where regulations are currently silent or lacking. In the absence of established law, ethics can play an important role by informing industry standards, policies and best practices. 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, moral and sustainable framework for human expansion into space. As the frequency and reliability of private human spaceflight activities advances, spaceflight is likely to take on the legal and ethical vestiges of common carriers, with distinct passenger rights and higher standards of care attributed 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 disciplines and the global space transportation community going forward.
Part of the book: Into Space