22 January 2020
Just 20 years into the 21st Century, we have already seen remarkable changes that we could never have anticipated. If so much can change in such a short time, what does the next 20 years have in store? We might not have all the answers, but we’ve tried to come up with 20 predictions that could happen between now and 2040.
Our understanding of the solar system and the possibilities of sustainable space exploration is set for rapid advances. A combination of fast-moving scientific research, a growing recognition that space may be crucial to the survival of humanity and the natural curiosity of humans is already fuelling our drive to reach out, understand and explore space.
As a result, the next 20 years will see an increase in “space tourism” with commercial flights becoming available for those willing to pay. People will start living and working in space as agencies such as NASA work with private companies to move towards sending astronauts back to the moon and on to Mars.
As a result of an increased understanding of the extra-terrestrial potential, we will see the growth of space-based industries such as space mining to obtain raw materials. Scientific advances in space travel will also revolutionise international travel, enabling people to travel between Sydney and Singapore in less than 30 minutes.
What was once a government-dominated field is fast becoming increasingly commercially-driven, which will accelerate the rate at which we conquer space.
While the space tourism industry will become mainstream and normalised, it will require significant regulation. Government and other agencies will also need to consider social impacts such as health, environmental quality and changing social structures.
There will be significant business growth opportunities in this rapidly evolving field, in fields including engineering, manufacturing and consulting, as well as for new models of collaboration. Global partnerships will drive change – we will eventually even need inter-planetary treaties to govern our economic relationships.
Additionally, as overpopulation, pollution and climate change create threats to our current existence on Earth in the years ahead, there will be an increased call for us to explore space as a place to work, live and find resources in.
Curious to find out what else could happen between now and 2040? Read our other predictions
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