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Vatican Observatory Director Shares Thoughts On The ‘Commercial Space Race’

Billionaires Elon Musk. Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson are competing in the "billionaire space race."

Whenever we mention religion and faith, we often forget or neglect science and vice versa. There is this longstanding belief that science and faith are mutually exclusive, and can never go together and agree with one another, but it isn’t necessarily the case.

In history, there have already been moments where science and faith “joined forces” just like when the Big Bang Theory was proposed in the 1930s by George Lemaitre. While he is a Belgian cosmologist, it is a little known fact that he was also a Catholic priest! (Read: Three Instances That Prove Science and Faith Work Hand In Hand)

And perhaps it is also a little known fact that the Vatican–the center of the Catholic faith–has its own observatory. One of the oldest astronomical research institutions in the world, the Vatican Observatory employs astronomers and staff from almost all continents, where a significant number are actual Catholic priests (mostly Jesuits) and brothers.

And they are the ones who are now educating the public about the implications of the ongoing “commercial space race” of billionaires.

Commercial ‘space race’

(Left) Jeff Bezos in 2017, said he would fly to space on July 20, 2021. (Right) SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveils the company’s new manned spacecraft, The Dragon V2, designed to carry astronauts into space during a news conference on May 29, 2014, in Hawthorne, California. (Photos from Nick Cote/NYT/Redux/The New Yorker and Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Br. Guy Consolmagno, SJ, Director of the Vatican Observatory, says that while space exploration and tourism feed our curiosity and help us reflect on God’s creation, there are many more ways to put the money to use to benefit more people. (Read: How Fossil Discoveries Are Proving the Need to Invest in the Sciences)

“We are called to do this. We are called to feed the poor so that the poor have the chance to also be able to contemplate Creation, whether it’s through science or art,” he said.

It is an ongoing issue as to how Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Space X’s Elon Musk, and Virgin Group’s Richard Branson are becoming the faces of capitalism’s obsession with growth. That’s because these three are burning through their finances just to go to space without an actual scientific purpose for it.

Space travel regulations

Photo by Kendall Hoopes from Pexels

With civilians like the billionaires simply going to space for no apparent reason other than the commercial space race, others are also encouraged to go to outer space. In fact, seats on the spaceships of Musk, Bezos, and Branson are now selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars each.

And most likely, these anonymous holders of tickets to space are part of the upper 1% of the population, since each seat is reportedly being sold for at least $200,000. According to reports, Branson’s Virgin Galactic already has 600 tickets reserved.

Because of this news, Br. Consolmagno emphasized the importance of regulating space travel. “All of this, whether it’s the moon, or a near earth asteroid, or a shuttle above the orbit of the atmosphere earth’s atmosphere, or the place we walk around every day. It’s all God’s Creation. It’s all been entrusted to us to care for,” he said. (Read: 4 Ways This Jeepney Driver-turned-college Graduate Inspires Us)

He added that with space tourism slowly beginning, we should all start caring more for our earth. According to the Vatican Observatory director, it should be in everyone’s interest–especially those planning to book a commercial ticket to outer space–that we preserve all creations, including those above and beyond our atmosphere.

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