Prince William chides billionaire space race after Blue Origin flight

Prince William photographed during a visit to Dulwich Hamlet FC in south London on September 23, 2021.
Kirsty O’Connor – WPA Pool | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Prince William appears to have taken a swipe at the space tourism espoused by some of the world’s most high-profile billionaires.

Speaking to the BBC, William said: “We’ve seen everyone trying to get space tourism going … 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.”

The Duke of Cambridge’s comments — which were broadcast in full on Thursday — come in the same week that the 90-year-old actor William Shatner was launched into space by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.

In a face to face conversation with Bezos after returning to Earth, Shatner said: “What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine. I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened.” Bezos himself undertook a spaceflight on July 20.

On July 11, a Virgin Galactic spacecraft carrying the billionaire Richard Branson, among others, completed a spaceflight. Another billionaire involved in the sector is Elon Musk, through SpaceX.  

While these companies have generated a significant amount of publicity and interest, it appears the second in line to the British throne will not be using their services anytime soon.

William was asked by the BBC if he would like to be a space tourist one day. “I have absolutely no interest in going that high,” he replied. The BBC also reported him as stating there was a “fundamental question” related to the carbon footprint of such trips. 

Bezos has himself addressed concerns around the kinds of endeavors firms such as Blue Origin are now involved in.

In an interview with CNN in July prior to his trip, it was put to him that critics were calling such flights to space “joyrides for the wealthy” and that his time, money and energy would be better spent focusing on Earth-based problems.

“Well, I say they’re largely right,” he replied. “We have to do both … we have lots of problems in the here and now on Earth and we need to work on those, and we always need to look to the future — we’ve always done that as a species, as a civilization. We have to do both.”

The Duke of Cambridge is not the only member of Britain’s royal family to express views on the environment. In Sept. 2020, his father, Prince Charles, called for a “Marshall-like plan for nature, people and planet.”

Earlier this week, Charles told the BBC: “My old Aston Martin, which I’ve had for 51 years, runs on, can you believe this, surplus English white wine and whey from the cheese process.”

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