Britain’s Prince William on Thursday took a thinly veiled swipe at the billionaires competing in the space tourism race – saying they should be focused on fixing environmental problems on Earth before soaring skyward.
"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."
His comment, which came during a BBC interview, appeared aimed at Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson, whose rival rocket ventures are all vying to usher in a new era of private commercial space travel.
Fellow Brit Branson – first to launch on his Virgin Galactic – said upon his return that the company was (quote) “here to make space more accessible to all.”
Although at a current price of $250,000 a ticket, that remains to be seen.
Bezos was next to blast off, saying his Blue Origin provided a road to space (quote) "so that our kids and their kids can build a future."
His company is enjoying a PR coup having just sent “Star Trek” actor William Shatner to space on its second civilian mission.
And SpaceX founder Elon Musk has spoken about trips to Mars.
But Prince William, it appears, would rather they bankroll ways to fight climate change – given that humans will likely hang around Earth for a while.
“We are seeing a rise in climate anxiety. Young people are now growing up where their futures are basically threatened the whole time. It’s very unnerving, and it’s very anxiety-making.”
The prince’s personal response to the issue has been to create the Earthshot Prize, which aims to find solutions through new technologies or policies to the planet’s biggest environmental problems.
The first five winners, who will each collect 1 million pounds – or 1.4 million dollars - will be announced at a ceremony on Sunday.