Prince William criticized the space race and said that "the world's greatest" should instead try to fix Earth first. This came a day after Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin New Shepard had the second-ever human flight to space carrying Star Trek star William Shatner and three others.
On October 13, the nearly 10-minute flight made Shatner the oldest person to travel to space at the age of 90. Shatner's flight happened around four months after Bezos himself flew to space with his brother and 82-year-old aviation pioneer Mary Wallace "Wally" Funk, along with 18-year-old Oliver Daemen.
Previously, even Virgin Galactic's founder, 71-year-old Richard Branson, went on a space flight on July 11. Branson's mission lasted the most compared to Blue Origin's one-and-a-half hours. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is also expected to announce his space flight soon.
What did Prince William say about the new space race?
In an interview with Newscast on BBC Sounds, the Duke of Cambridge spoke about the climate change crisis. He said,
"We need some of the world's greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live."
This was directed at almost all the billionaires (especially Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk) who own a rocket company and aim to colonize other planets.
Prince William also referenced the attendees of the upcoming COP26 summit, where world leaders will meet in Glasgow towards the end of October. The Duke iterated,
"We can't have more clever speak, clever words but not enough action."
He further spoke,
"I think for COP to communicate very clearly and very honestly what the problems are and what the solutions are going to be, is critical."
What do space flights cost?
On June 12, Blue Origin auctioned off a seat on the "suborbital space flight" for $28 million. The actual cost of sending passengers to space is expected to be a couple of million lower.
Meanwhile, SpaceX offers entirely orbital space flights for $58 million per passenger. The actual launch costs about $30 million. However, sustenance costs and other safety costs add up quickly for space flights.
Virgin Galactic is the cheapest of the bunch, offering its suborbital space flight at $450,000.
The environmental impact of space flights
According to Eloise Marais (associate professor of physical geography at University College London), as quoted in The Guardian, a rocket launch can result in 200 to 300 tons of carbon dioxide in the upper atmosphere. Carbon dioxide will remain there for years. This can potentially impact the environment severely.