The Ideal Future for Space in 2040

Following our kick-off conversation with the Space Brain Trust group, here were my thoughts related to “The Ideal Future for Space in 2040”

First ideas that come to mind:

  • New opportunities arise from problems which did not previously exist
  • Space activities are a transformed extension of every interested country, company and individual
  • Space Traffic is Managed
  • Orbital Debris is under control


  • Everyone knows someone who has experienced the overview effect by going into space
  • Space is realized as a managed, next generation global commons


  • Space is part of the global supply chain
  • New materials and products are being profitably exported in regular shipments from space


  • A cryptocurrency is developed for space-related property and inter-space commerce


  • Orbital debris creation has peaked and has been drawn dawn through successful community environmental stewardship
  • Space traffic is managed


  • Space is realized as a managed, next generation global commons
  • Two new countries have been formed by residents of Earth orbit, and residents of the Lunar surface; both are recognized by the UN.


  • New opportunities arise from problems which did not previously exist
  • Space activities are a transformed extension of every interested country, company and individual

Thank you for starting this discussion, @interplanetary!

Check out some of the existing discussion by following the #space tag.

@avi_loeb, @JohnBucknell, @crointel, @pjaffeva, @AngeloVermeulen, and @derleth - would love your thoughts on this!

Expect more in the days to come, as we’ll be synthesizing the insights from our inaugural Space Brain Trust meeting and sharing them here in the Community as well as in next week’s newsletter.

I hope that, by 2040, we have a couple of things happening that are not happening today:

First is in-space habitats used as hotels or even as flats. I imagine that reduced cost of launch will enable some pretty fantastic things. Hopefully, flight to a “cruise ship” in space that is in a permanent figure-8 orbit around the Earth and Moon is possible. Perhaps (for a LOT more money) even an “excursion” to the Moon itself could be a possibility.

2040 is only 19 years away, though, so either of those things might be unrealistic. But maybe not! There’s a business case that could close depending on cost of launch and number of customers that could afford a trip.

A second thing I hope to see by 2040 is actual space mining efforts bringing raw materials back for use in LEO and in cislunar space. By utilizing water and regolith in space, we can a) refuel empty rockets to get anywhere in the solar system faster than ever before, and b) utilize raw materials to construct larger spacecraft than ever before. Utilizing regolith for in-space habitat radiation shielding is only a start! True in-space manufacturing could begin a renaissance that enables humans to permanently expand into space.

Of course, running through this is the need for space ethics. We should be endeavoring to have the tide of space lift all boats, not create an “Elysium” for a few and a poor mining caste for others. But that’s a challenging problem, probably more challenging than space itself! So, I hope that on the way to our future in space, we spend time and effort to meet and discuss space ethics regularly, holding each other accountable to work towards a brighter future.

1 Like

@derleth interplanetary @marz62

I’m curious about what you see as a very simplified roadmap to living and manufacturing in space. What are the steps that you envision?

Personally, I see reliable and cost-effective transportation as the first barrier with habitation and supply points in space as the potential second barrier.

I’ve seen a lot of people talk about the future, but not as many talk about how they see us getting there. Any reading suggestions would also be great!

1 Like

@LBakerLyon - I think you have correctly identified the two main barriers (challenges to solve!) to a sustained and sustainable existence in space.

I would only point out two operational barriers:

1] Orbital Debris / Space Junk - it’s a problem and growing…and as it grows, the potential for ‘catastrophic collisions’ also grows (each potentially generating hundreds to thousands of new pieces of orbital debris). Barring the invention of some super material (incredibly light weight, CHEAP, and resistance to extreme high speed impacts) we are fast approaching the ‘Kessler Syndrome’.

2] Investment Capital - With all the private wealth pouring into space technology, reusable rocket systems, and assorted utilitarian spacecrafts (cargo crafts, etc.), we can say truly that we are living in a New Age of Space Exploration. But Billionaires want profits (eventually, sooner the better) for their investments. If only more and more money is demanded, for more and more space infrastructure – without any clear profit engine emerging (at least sufficient* technology transfer revenue via licensing, etc.) – then this private investment sector may likely find itself in a similar position to the US government when it ended its various Space programs (Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle, etc.)…maybe even turn their investments back towards Earth and improving things here (like Musk’s recent XPrize).

  • Even this may not be enough profit; they will need billions in profit within say ten years.

Thanks so much @marz62! I completely agree with you on these two points. It’ll be interesting to see how the investment capital piece of the puzzle plays out, but I think that innovators have their minds on this problem too and are looking for ways to make their technologies turn a profit. I am optimistic about what 2040 will look like… as long as we take care of orbital debris!

Your point on orbital debris is one that I think about quite often. We have to figure out a way to make a sustainable space for exploration and research and it won’t be possible with the current trajectory of “let’s just put everything in orbit!”. I’m excited to see what policy changes may help with getting this problem under control.

Quick question! Qhat is the one piece (or several!) of innovation that you are most excited about for the future of space? I am particularly excited about the physics of and transport implications of making a space elevator work. I hope that we get to see something like this in our lifetime.

1 Like


A Space Elevator would be awesome (though it still sounds like serious sci-fi to me)!

As for what I am most excited about (space tech wise)…hmmm…I would say (off the top of my head): long-distance optical (laser) communication (from Earth to Moon to Mars, every which way)…this would include ‘twisted’ (hellically polarized) light for data encoding…which may also evolve into or merge with (remote) quantum communication based upon multi-photon (laser beam mediated) entanglement and which I fantasize may one day be instrumental in our first ‘alien (remote) contact’.

On a more selfish note: the innovation I am most looking forward to seeing is the building of a micro-gravity space sports arena and establishment of my live-action space game ‘Zero Gordian’ ( - video here: )


1 Like

Well, low cost access to space is “almost here” with Starship. Hopefully, that will open up a renaissance of sorts that we can’t even imagine today as people are creative with what they do with Starship. Of course, smaller launch that is less expensive is also helpful. But yes, I think low-cost access is a key factor.

Second, something that will earn money is necessary. Whether that’s asteroid mining or some other thing, I think it’s imperative that someone’s going to make a fortune. Maybe at least three someones? Competition of sorts will be necessary. I don’t think capital comes unless there’s a chance for a sizable profit.

Pre-emplacement of resources would be … interesting. Useful, if it could be done, I think. But I’m not sure how to do it. Obviously, everything’s moving, so catching up and docking with something is necessary. That might not be “on your way,” and stopping somewhere that’s not on your way is really quite challenging. Also, as fantastical as it sounds, these are the high seas of space we’re talking about - space piracy seems like it would be “easy” to accomplish if there were pre-emplaned caches.

How Space Technology Benefits Society
Former astronaut and medical doctor Scott Parazynski says that impellers are used today as heart-assist devices in patients waiting in line for heart transplants. Now, just imagine how many lives are depending on a piece of hardware that’s used to help bring astronauts to space and back

1 Like

The Africa Space Week will now be held between 6-10 September 2021 in Nairobi, Kenya. The event would bring together all the stakeholders in the African space industry for five days to consolidate African outer space efforts.

The Africa Space Week will be preceded by the Virtual Introductory Technical Advisory Mission and Training for policymakers in Africa co-organized with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) on 4th September 2021.