Well, someone is not too happy with the concept of personal spaceflight. In a letter to the editor in Saturday’s Washington Post, C. Anthony Altar of Garrett Park, Maryland, uses the WhiteKnightTwo rollout to complain that personal spaceflight is “selfish excess” that should be prohibited. Such travelers, or, rather, “eco-hypocrites”, “burn toluene and other pollutants” on their flights (not sure about the toluene, but no matter). “We cannot accept a narcissism that trumps common sense and pollutes the fragile atmosphere the rest of us must breathe,” he argues. “Public outrage can mobilize our government to outlaw this kind of activity.”
Dr. Altar (yes, he is President and Chief Scientific Officer at Psychiatric Genomics) is more than a little off base here. Yes, suborbital spaceflights will likely release some degree, however small, of pollutants—many human activities do. However, the small size of the vehicles, short burn time, and relatively low flight rate means that such flights will have a miniscule footprint on the environment compared to commercial aviation. Perhaps if he is really concerned about protecting the “fragile atmosphere”, he can try to “mobilize out government to outlaw” commercial aviation.