Space has been a lifelong passion of mine.
I was nine in the summer of 1969 when the first humans walked on the moon.
My family watched with friends in town as Neil Armstrong made his giant step, and during the drive back to the farm in the dark, I can remember looking up at the moon in the night sky and trying to see the astronauts.
In later years, when rocket launches were still novel, Mom would sometimes let me stay home on school days so I could watch them live on TV.
Dad and I put together a model of the landing module, which was proudly displayed on a side table in the living room until it was damaged in a dusting mishap.
Space stations and space shuttles were next, bringing with them the intriguing possibilities of making space travel routine. A couple of horrendous accidents were sobering, but I never really wanted it to end.
I also read a lot of science fiction as a kid (and still do) and through that was introduced to the possibility of space someday moving out of the government sphere and into the private sector. The idea of privately run space hotels and rocket excursions may have seemed fanciful, but a space junkie could always hope.
And now it looks like those science fiction imaginings are coming true.
Elon Musk’s Space-X has spent the last few years turning itself into a thriving space trucking company, moving cargo to the space station and delivering satellites to orbit.
Now two more billionaires have upped the ante, blasting themselves to the edge of outer space as the beginning of what they hope will be the start of a booming space tourism industry.
It’s an exciting time to be a space junkie, except … and isn’t there always an “except?”
It turns out the entire venture could be killing the planet.
I recently read an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail by Michael Byers and Aaron Boley, two professors from the University of British Columbia who argue that the fuel these private space ships use are spewing something called black carbon particles into the stratosphere that threatens to undo all the work the rest of us are doing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
So that’s just great. Now what’s a lifelong space junkie to do?