A tourist spacecraft
Author profile picture

Exciting times are coming when space travel may become as normal as travelling by plane. With the arrival of Starship, SpaceX’s new flagship spacecraft that will take humans to Mars and eventually perhaps much further, we are cautiously beginning to dream of a new world. In this story, we explore a scenario where space travel is the order of the day and how it will change our view of our own globe forever.

  • (Commercial) space travel is going to change our lives forever in the future
  • We will book hotels on exoplanets and mine valuable materials on asteroids.
  • It will also change our view of Earth itself: we are one human family

What book do you read to your six-year-old daughter? Jip and Janneke, Spot perhaps, or a book about giant black holes with the weight of forty billion suns? My father chose the latter. I can well remember me going through a thick book with him, which already looked impressive without even opening it. I found the pictures and animations of the stars on the pages downright overwhelming. They were frightening. I could not believe that a bizarre, dark world filled with countless points of light was supposed to represent our home.

24 years later, I still sometimes look up in disbelief. I am still fascinated on a daily basis by the stunning HD images telescopes show us of solar systems far away from us. And about the giant rockets under development that will one day take us there whole. Yes, I am on the edge of my seat. We are on the eve of an exciting time.

Let’s take a leap into the future. What if we are all set for space travel? What will a world look like where it is a normal thing to do, to book a return trip to the nearest galaxy?

The Interstellar Ark

We had to wait a long time for it, but finally scientists and engineers have made it. They have built a spacecraft, the Interstellar Ark, that enables ultra-long journeys to other galaxies. Once a week, the giant ship leaves from Space Central Station in French Guiana, South America. In size, the ‘beast’ is bigger than the Eiffel Tower. A return ticket, if you go in the right season and have secured a discount code, costs €529.00. Pricey, but still just doable for the middle-income citizen.

This ark’s route takes you to several destinations in the universe. The first: the nearest galaxy Alpha Centauri (2.537 million light years away from us, so not actually ‘close’ at all). It is a popular destination among scientists researching intelligent extraterrestrial life. On the way, the ark will make a pit stop at the star Proxima Centauri, to refuel a fuel unknown to us at present. The journey continues to the Trappist-1 Cluster, a collection of seven exoplanets, where we have also discovered primary life in the meantime. These planets are also known on Earth as ‘The Seventh Heaven’. They are mainly used by humans to unwind.

Although it is still not possible to explore each planet due to the lack of oxygen bubbles, the accessible area of at least one of these exoplanets extends over tens of thousands of hectares. This bubble acts as an oasis, with luxurious hotels and artificial but beautiful sandy beaches. It took about 150 years and also billions of euros to create this environment. But then you have something. The cocktails there are a bit pricier than on Earth. That is too bad.

Fun at the poolside
Luxurious hotel at another planet

Besides, as advanced as we are, even in our future scenario, space tourists still feel the need to show off spectacular holiday snaps on social media from time to time. After all, posing at the edge of a pool with an enchanting galactic backdrop generates lots of comments and likes.

Every Sunday morning, the bags are packed again. Then the Ark sails back to the Space Central Station, where new passengers are eager to start their cosmic journey.

Asteroid mining

Of course, the space is not just there for entertainment. There is work to be done! Besides the ark, spacecrafts commute up and down to the nearest asteroids every Saturday. Equipped with sophisticated mining equipment, they mine mountains of precious materials such as platinum, gold and rare metals. As the mining industry grows in space, an Earth dynamics shift is taking place. Earth’s dependence on rare resources is decreasing, creating a positive turn.

Electric vehicles with ultra-light and super-strong materials are becoming the norm. These are many times more energy-efficient than we were used to. Moreover, intergalactic mining has not only significantly reduced the cost of electric cars, but also enabled the development of new forms of transport, such as flying cars and superfast trains.

A cosmic work of art

An intergalactic lightshow

The advent of space travel also opens the doors to innovation in the cultural field, for example in the art world. Artists gain access to a whole new canvas – the infinite universe. Once a year, they create a gigantic, imposing work in the form of a light show, visible from Earth. It works like this: Specialised vessels are equipped with light projection technology. They project vivid patterns, colours and movements onto the cosmic background by directing beams of light and focusing them using mirrors and lenses on board. A real feast for the eyes for us earthlings.

One human family

It doesn’t always take thousands of lasers to provide people with a wow effect. It can be much simpler. Back to now; Many astronauts who once had the chance to visit space often describe a profound “awe” effect when looking down at Earth from the space station ISS. They suddenly have a strong sense of the beauty and fragility of our planet. In our future scenario, where space travel is the norm, suddenly a lot of people will share this experience. A positive side effect: the creation of countless climate funds and targeted actions against deforestation and pollution. Governments, companies and individuals will start working together in unprecedented ways to protect the Earth. We no longer see ourselves as divided by borders, but increasingly as one human family. Something we did not think possible for a long time.

Unfortunately, we still have to be patient before we can book a return ticket to The Seventh Heaven. Bummer, to say the least, speaking from myself. But above all, let us not forget that even now, we are already making a beautiful journey together on our trusty, sky-blue spaceship called Earth.