Mass space tourism is still not yet on the horizon – but the billionaires investing in space travel are helping the planet to tackle the climate crisis.
That was the message from Will Whitehorn, Chair of Seraphim Investment Trust and formerly of Virgin Galactic, at WTM London.
He said the amount of space launches is “rocketing” thanks to satellite and space flight programmes from Sir Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.
“It is an industrial revolution,” he said.
“People think space is for scientists and billionaires but it is vital for us to get to net zero.”
He admitted mass space tourism is unlikely in the near-future but travellers with a budget of $350,000 or more to spend on tickets will soon go to the edge of space.
However, within five-six years, there will be hypersonics, “skitting around the edge of space”, which will lead to a revolution in fast travel around the planet, and high-altitude supersonic planes that won’t damage the atmosphere as much as other aircraft.
“These things will happen because space is important to our economy and the only way to get to net zero with a population of nine billion,” he told the audience.
He said industries are being put into space as part of the move to net zero, and solar power generated from space will be sent down to earth by microwaves.
Furthermore, there will be tracking technology which tourism companies can use, perhaps to monitor tourists who are trekking or taking cycle rides in remote areas.
Whitehorn said those who have been to space “have been changed” by seeing the curvature of the earth and how delicate the atmosphere is, adding: “Space tourism is worth it if we can do that, but also if we can industrialise in space and save the planet.
“Every experience changes you; an experience like this changes humanity.”