Jeff Bezos And Richard Branson Overlooked Spaceflight Safety Concern, Experts Say
As Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson raced to hurtle themselves to the edge of space, both billionaires decided to do so in fetching blue jumpsuits.
Bezos accompanied his personalised jumpsuit with an oversized cowboy hat, while Branson kept things simple with a pair of sunglasses and an ear-to-ear grin.
However, according to some experts, the billionaires’ sartorial choices on their respective spaceflights overlooked a safety feature that is usually a requirement on any NASA spaceflight.
While Branson and Bezos both decided to opt for blue jumpsuits, experts in space travel safety noticed the conspicuous lack of pressure suits, which are used to protect astronauts from rapid decompression when outside of Earth’s atmosphere, Bloomberg reports.
NASA and other space agencies around the world made such suits a requirement after experiencing fatal accidents without them, though NASA’s standards don’t apply to those owned by billionaires like Branson and Bezos. Companies and their crews that offer space tourism flights, like Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Bezos’s Blue Origin, have been made exempt from federal safety oversight by Congress.
Tommaso Sgobba, former European Space Agency official and executive director of the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety, said: ‘The reality is when you go to space, you don’t dress with nice stuff, you dress with the right stuff.’
Sgobba believes restrictions on government oversight on private enterprises like these need to end. Though the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) thoroughly reviews any launch application, it primarily looks at the reliability of the spacecraft, and Congress has not allowed the agency to set any rules to protect the occupants.
‘It is time, I believe, to update our human spaceflight regulatory framework,’ George Nield, who directed the FAA’s office overseeing commercial launches from 2008 to 2018, said.
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