Prince William blasts space tourism, says focus should be on trying to 'repair this planet'

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Prince William is sharing his thoughts on the spike in interest of space exploration ahead of Sunday's first-ever Earthshot Prize awards ceremony, which recognizes individuals working to fix the planet's environmental issues.

"We've seen everyone trying to get space tourism going," Prince William said in a BBC Newscast interview published Thursday. "We need some of the world's greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet and not trying to find the next place to go and live."

The Duke of Cambridge launched the Earthshot Prize initiative Oct. 2020 with plans to award five individuals every year for the next 10 years who find "the most inspiring solutions" to environmental issues like climate change and air quality.

According to the Royal Foundation's website, the prize was inspired by former president John F. Kennedy's moonshot speech to congress, but 60 years later William says the focus needs to shift back to Earth.

"That really is quite crucial, we need to be focusing on this (planet) rather than giving up and heading out into space to try and think of solutions for the future," the 39-year-old royal told BBC.

Prince William, Michael Bloomberg: We're in a race to save Earth from climate change

Prince William says our focus should be toward helping the Earth and not space exploration.
Prince William says our focus should be toward helping the Earth and not space exploration.

Space tourism in the U.S. made headlines Wednesday as 90-year-old "Star Trek" actor William Shatner joined Blue Origin, founded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2000, for its second human spaceflight. Shatner called his trip to space "indescribable," adding that "everybody in the world needs to do this."

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But the Duke of Cambridge said he's OK with being left off the list.

"I have absolutely no interest in going that high," William said. "I'm a pilot ... but I stay reasonably close to the ground. I've been up to 65,000 feet once in a plane and that was truly terrifying."

The Earthshot Prize announced 15 finalists in September including a 14-year-old student who proposes using solar energy to replace charcoal to power millions of roadside ironing carts in India; a land-based coral farm in the Bahamas to restore dying coral reefs; a community project in Congo devoted to protecting gorillas; and a Kenyan enterprise that turns organic waste into fertilizer and insect protein for farmers.

Finalists will be awarded a grant worth $1.4 million as well as partnerships with global companies, including Microsoft, Unilever, Ikea and Walmart, to support and scale the ideas to development.

More: Prince William unveils 15 inaugural finalists for his ambitious Earthshot environmental prize

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Prince William blasts space tourism ahead of Earthshot Prize

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