The Future Of (2022) s01e05 Episode Script

Space Vacations

You just had a bad breakup
and you really wanted to get away.

Far away.

So you hopped on a long,
relaxing 72-hour flight
and it was worth the travel time.

There's nothing like seeing home from here
and now your ex is 238,000 miles away.

Time to freshen up, grab a drink,
and explore your final destination.

That's right, it's the moon.

Decades of sci-fi
and pop culture have prepared us
for this moment.

To infinity and beyond!
Oh, God!
What the hell was that?
It's already happening.

You don't have to be
a formal astronaut to go into space.

Space travel will forever be
the best trip I've had.

And while space travel
is incredibly expensive,
more and more people are going for it.

The demand for this is huge.

I mean, people are just clamoring.

I would love to really have
a visceral experience like that,
just by going to a place
I've never been before.

And in the future,
space tourism is going
to be out of this world.

Some of the technologies will really
enable spaceflight to be even cheaper.

You might be able to rent
your own space pod for a week,
similar to an Airbnb.

I think you want as many people
to experience it as possible,
but make sure that you're respectful
of the surrounding environment.

You'll get in,
you'll strap into your seat,
and then countdown begins.

Four, three, two, one, zero.

Long before Neil Armstrong
set foot on the moon,
we had our sights set on the stars,
and that age-old cultural obsession
with the skies
has led us to innovate
and venture out into space.

Space travel is probably one of the most
difficult endeavors that humans
have attempted and succeeded at.

These trips to space haven't
just satisfied our desire to explore.

Technologies used in space exploration
have found their way
into our everyday lives.

- GPS.

- Cell phones.

- Velcro.

- Whenever you're using location services
on your phone or in an app,
you know, we are using space
to tell us where we are on the planet.

That's right.

When you book that Uber,
you're relying on tech
that came from space.

You have your satellite TV service
that's beaming the signal
down to your house
so you can watch that NFL football game.

I watched the original Star Trek.

I think back of Kirk standing
on the surface of the planet
- flipping his communicator
- Spock?
- and calling someone
- Spock?
Spock here.

on the Enterprise.

And today, with my cell phone,
I can actually call an astronaut
on space station and talk to them.

But in the last 20 years,
what were once
research-focused missions to space
have opened to include things
that are more recreational.

Civilian space travel
has been all over the news.

You may soon be able
to buy a ticket to space!
You know that's
a hundred-thousand-million-dollar ticket?
Book your ticket to space!
Michael Strahan is going to space.

- Yeah.

- Would you go?
- No.

- Nor would I.

From Japan to India,
we're experiencing
a global space tourism race
between the world's private companies
and billionaires.

But the current tech giants seem more
interested in a rocket-measuring contest
than anything else.

Y'all make fun
of each other's rockets.

If you are only going to do suborbital,
then your rocket can be sort of
- Shorter.

- Shorter.


When it comes to suborbital space travel,
there's been a lot
of spectacle surrounding it.

So, the very visible flights
of Jeff Bezos going to space
and Richard Branson going
to space obviously irked a lot of people.

And all you have
to do is open TikTok
to see that people either love
or hate this idea.

You should have to pay taxes before
you can leave the earth.

- Liftoff, as the
- Whoa!
And I understand people's sentiments,
I really do,
but anytime we push
the boundaries on space travel,
we learn new things,
we create new technologies,
and ultimately I think that benefits us
here on the ground.

Like it or not,
these business leaders
and their exorbitant wealth
are the ones
that can bankroll going to space,
but not all trips are the same.

SpaceX, for example, has been
focusing on orbital space travel,
which involves flying far enough
into space to go around the earth.

Companies like Blue Origin
are launching suborbital flights.

These rides briefly go into low space
and come right back.

Either trip is still
going to cost a pretty penny.

When you talk about orbital flight,
it will be expensive,
in the millions
of dollars for a long time.

Businesswoman Anousheh Ansari
sold her telecommunications company
to buy a ride on a Russian Soyuz rocket
in 2006
to the International Space Station.

The cost of getting to space
starts with trying to break away
from Earth's gravity,
which requires a lot of fuel.

So essentially what we're doing
is taking propellants and combusting them
at just the right time,
blowing them out the back end
of your rocket
so that you propel
upward and outward into space.

And that's always going to be
an expensive and complicated process.

In the past,
fuel alone for NASA's shuttle launches
has cost nearly $1.
4 million.

What we wanna do is drive that price down
to hundreds of dollars
if not tens of dollars per kilogram
to take things into space,
and we're moving
in that direction right now.

One way
to do it is with reusable rockets.

For most of spaceflight history,
all of our rockets were essentially trash
after they were done, right?
There has been a lot of push,
especially with SpaceX,
to make sure those rockets come back
to Earth so that we can use them again
and save on those manufacturing costs.

Scientists are looking
at other ways
to make rockets that are cheaper
and more fuel-efficient,
like electric rockets powered by plasma.

And it's only through doing more
and more of those and more research
are we gonna drive
the cost down even further.

Making it cheaper
to go into space is one thing,
but how do we make it easier
on our space travelers?
It takes a lot of mental and physical
preparation to go into space.

I've had the privilege of training
like an astronaut a few times.

I got to work out on some
of the same vehicles that they use
to work out in space.

The biggest takeaway I have is I have a
lot of respect for people who go to space.

I went through the normal training
of an astronaut,
which took months of working
and learning about space program
and how to make repairs on the space
station and how everything works.

Soon there will be options
that are less taxing on the body,
less time-consuming,
and maybe even less expensive.

We're really in the business of creating
an incredible experience for people.

Jane Poynter is the founder
and co-CEO of Space Perspective.

It's the first luxury
space-tourism company
that's focused on taking passengers
to space
in a balloon rather than a rocket.

When most people think about space travel,
they think about rigorous training.

They think about spacesuits
and high Gs and vibration.

This is none of that.

No training required
for this suborbital balloon ride.

Instead of a turbulent
high-speed rocket trip,
the six-hour voyage will gently lift
passengers up to 100,000 feet
in a lounge-like pod.

Flights are scheduled
to begin in late 2024
for the low, low price
of just $125,000 per guest,
already a third of the
price of a Virgin Galactic ticket.

So now you see the sun begin to rise
over the curvature of the earth.

So you've got that incredibly iconic
thin blue line of the atmosphere
that you're gonna see.

You're gonna see our sun in the black,
black sky of space.

It's gonna be a breathtaking experience.

These incremental steps are
opening the floodgates for space tourism.

Eventually, we are going to see thousands
and millions of people going to space.

No question, we're gonna
have millions of people going to space,
you know, before too very long, really.

Certainly our goal.

Whoa, whoa, whoa.
Hold up.

Millions of people going to space?
Where are we going
to put everybody up there?
Once a larger group of people
have been able to get into space,
the desire will be
to stay in a hotel in space.

That's right.

Visitors will want more
than just a suborbital drive-by.

Space hotels aren't a new idea.

In the '70s, NASA futurists imagined
outer space colonies
where people could
comfortably settle and live.

Stanley Kubrick envisioned
a more stark space hotel
in his film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Movies like 2001
were tremendously exciting.

These things we think of very much
as science fiction at the time
are now becoming much more
of the reality today.

Private companies are driving
the push to make space tourism a reality.

The Orbital Assembly Foundation has stated
we could have a private space hotel
as early as 2027,
and there are even plans
to add a non-research section
to the International Space Station
for visitors,
courtesy of a partnership between
a developer called Axiom and SpaceX.

There's going to be a lot of different
possibilities with this space hotel,
just like there are on Earth, right?
So you might be able to rent
your own space pod for a week.

This'll be very similar to an Airbnb.

It should be fully self-sufficient.

Olivia would know.

She co-authored the Vacation Guide
to the Solar System.

You may or may not be surprised
to find that your orbiting hotel
doesn't have a bed
that you can just collapse onto,
you have to strap into it
so that you don't float away
and hit your head on something
when you fall asleep.

Humans get a little clumsy
without gravity.

Humans have evolved to live
in a 1G environment here on Earth,
so when we go to space,
it has all these effects on our systems
that we just didn't anticipate
before we started sending
the first people into space.

In space,
bones become less dense and muscles weaken
because they don't need to work
to fight gravity.

If you love keeping fit,
space is a good place for you to go,
because you need to exercise
a minimum of two hours a day.

That's just to avoid any additional
weakening of your bones.

Human beings are adaptable.

Just like we deal
with altitude sickness while skiing,
we probably won't be deterred
by the side effects
of space travel on our bodies.

But what about the side effects all this
travel has on our old pal, planet Earth?
Perhaps the biggest concern
when it comes to rocket emissions
is that there's a type
of particle that is created
when these vehicles launch to orbit.

These particles sit
in the top level of our atmosphere
and we don't yet know how they might
affect our planet as we travel more.

This is a problem
that I think people really
are starting to realize they
need to learn more about.

Rocket emissions haven't had
an observable impact
on the atmosphere so far,
but more funding and research is required
to better predict
the effects space travel will have.

I think you want as many people
to experience it as possible,
but at the same time you wanna make sure
that you're respectful
of the surrounding environment.

Retired astronaut José Hernandez
has been
to the International Space Station
and sees a future for frequent
space travel, but there's a catch.

You love going
to a pristine beach, right?
And appreciating its beauty.

But how about spring break
when there's thousands of kids there,
beer cans all over the place and
it's not such a great experience anymore?
So that's the part that we really need
to make sure we manage.

A future that
includes space travel
will need to go green,
because frankly, there's no other choice.

You need to recycle the air
that you breathe,
you need to recycle the urine
that you produce,
and because of that,
I think, when we go to space,
we're going to have to make it
an environmentally sustainable endeavor.

Sustainable vehicles
and space infrastructure
will be crucial in supporting the influx
of tourists into Earth's orbit and beyond.

So we are working
on designing a deployable structure.

So a structure you can put
under any environment.

We start with Earth,
then we'll go to the moon, and then Mars.

To get to infinity and beyond,
Barbara Belvisi's company
is developing inflatable,
climate-controlled ecosystems
called biopods.

These protected ecosystems
will allow humans and plant life to grow
and live in orbit
and eventually on the moon.

Think of it as a dome,
which is an inflatable dome.

So, at the beginning,
you basically just have a shell
and a membrane on top of it.

And then when you inflate it, it grows.

It's supported by itself.

And inside, we control the air,
we control the water,
we control the humidity,
so we can recreate a climate.

We can create the European climate,
the tropical climates,
and so inside, you can grow anything.

Space pineapples, anyone?
Inflatable habitats are ideal because
any habitat heading to outer space
needs to be transported
in the top of a rocket from Earth.

Inflatables kind of
gets around that problem.

You launch them super folded up
and then once they get to space
or get to their final destination,
they expand outward creating
more habitable space
for people when they come to visit.

These expandable,
multi-purpose spaces
could be the building blocks of
a new civilization in the very far future.

I believe we're gonna build
a huge structure
for a human to be able
to travel far, far away,
but that's a thousand years from now.

In the far future,
once we've figured out how to get to space
in a way that's cost-effective and safe,
the vision is to take a trip
and stay on the moon.

NASA's working towards
sending humans back to the moon
with their Artemis program.

They want to land the first woman
and the first person
of color on the lunar surface.

The Artemis program
will establish an international base
near the moon's south pole
where there's an important resource.

There are craters there
that have never seen the light of the sun,
and we're finding out there are hundreds
of millions of tons of water
trapped in these
permanently shadowed regions.

With a substantial water source
and permanent structures,
private citizens might eventually be able
to hitch a ride for a lunar vacay.

I think the first space tourists
to the moon will be
small in number, but eventually,
100, 200 years from now,
I could picture a moon trip
being common practice.

The moon could be
a protected environment
similar to the Galapagos Islands.

Money spent on lunar tours
could go back into preserving it,
establishing a sustainable
ecotourism business model.

If I were to go to the moon,
I'd really wanna see Tycho Crater,
just because this is something
that you can see from Earth
and I love the idea of looking at the moon
and kind of pointing to it and saying,
"I wanna go there," and then going there.

Here we're going to be able
to look at the Apollo site.

They will pop up
into a bubble and look down
and see the footprints of Neil and Buzz.

If you're an adventurous type of person,
you might wanna be the first person
to descend into a crater.

You might wanna be the first person
to circumnavigate the moon.

There's a ton of things
to see on the moon,
depending on what you're interested in.

Things like traveling
through ancient underground tunnels
that once carried lava and in the future
could be converted into lunar transitways.

You could hop in a high-speed rover and
explore all the sites your heart desires.

Lava tubes may run
for hundreds of kilometers,
enabling us to move
from one location on the moon
to other locations
on the moon as highways,
or even race tracks, if you will.

Absolutely unbelievable structures
that are waiting for us to explore them.

Earth has lava tunnels
of its own
and researchers at Purdue University
have created an image analysis
to imagine how humans can make use
of a similar environment on the moon.

Life on the moon will set the stage
for what human life could look like
throughout the solar system.

There's absolutely
going to be a moon culture.

People will live there long-term.

It's not that far from Earth,
relatively speaking,
so you can always go home.

There will definitely be new rituals
and ideas about what it means
to be a "moon person.
We just need
to take the years of space travel
that we have under our belt
and use those lessons learned
when we go into a new environment
and make sure that
we don't perpetuate those same mistakes
when we are going deeper into space
onto the moon and to Mars.

Any astronaut will tell you
the magic of space travel is life-altering
for anyone who takes the trip.

Venturing away from our planet might
actually make us appreciate it even more.

You know, distance makes
the heart grow fonder.

In fact, there is a well-known effect.

It's called the Overview Effect.

When you get a view
from the earth from space,
you have a different connection
with the planet, um,
and that's something
that's going to be very important
in the future of space tourism.

Many citizen astronauts
will be able to see
what these astronauts really appreciate,
and come back with a renewed interest
to maintain our beautiful, blue planet.

I realized that the best part
of a space vacation is coming home
and realizing how precious Earth is.

I wish our world leaders
It should be a prerequisite
that if you become a world leader,
you come up into space
and you look at our big blue planet
from that perspective,
because I will guarantee you,
our world will be a much better place
than it is today.

That feeling of oneness with the
rest of the world and with the planets
is such a deep, emotional experience
that really changes the way you look
at the world after you return from space.

In the future,
maybe more of us will share
that feeling of oneness.

We're on our way to finding out.

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