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Prince William isn't a fan of space tourism

Prince William and his wife Duchess of Cambridge during an Earthshot Prize event in London.
Prince William and his wife Duchess of Cambridge during an Earthshot Prize event in London. (Image credit: Photo by Ian Vogler-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Prince William has called for the world's greatest minds to focus on fixing Earth rather than finding new planets to settle, and he's not intrigued by space tourism.

The heir to the British throne made those remarks during a 30-minute interview with the BBC's Newscast program that aired on Thursday (Oct. 14), the day after Blue Origin launched "Star Trek" actor William Shatner and three other people to suborbital space. The prince, who is a trained helicopter pilot, also revealed that he would not consider going to space himself. 

"I have been up to 65,000 feet (19,000 meters) once in a plane, and that was truly terrifying. That's high enough," William told the BBC's Adam Flemming. "You don't get weightless, but the sky is black above you and you can see the curve of the Earth."

Video:  William Shatner gazes at Earth from space during Blue Origin's launch
In photos: William Shatner's space launch with Blue Origin

The interview focused on the Earthshot Prize, a new award looking for groundbreaking ideas that will help protect the environment amid the ongoing climate crisis

The Earthshot Prize, funded by the Royal Foundation, a charity of Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, has no smaller ambition than to become the biggest environmental prize in history, Prince William said. The scale of the challenge facing the planet requires the world's brightest people to turn Earthward for the sake of the entire human species, the prince suggested. 

"We need some of the world's greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live," he said. "We have 10 years of critical time when we have to make inroads and find solutions, because past 2030, things will get rapidly worse."

Despite the prince's Earth-focused mindset, the Prize's name is an obvious nod to the famous moonshot, the concerted effort of the American space sector in the 1960s to land a man on the moon by 1970, which was instigated by U.S. President John F. Kennedy. 

"The original genesis of [the Earthshot Prize] is to try and capture the ingenuity, the problem-solving and the ambition of the moonshot, based on JFK's idea to get a man on the moon and all the technology and the advancements that came out of it," Prince William said in the interview. "We are trying to galvanize and push the solutions forward." 

The Prize will announce its first set of winners on Monday (Oct. 17) in London, awarding £1 million ($1.37 million) to the best ideas in five categories focused on climate, clean air, waste management, protecting nature and reviving oceans. 

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Tereza Pultarova

Tereza is a London-based science and technology journalist, aspiring fiction writer and amateur gymnast. Originally from Prague, the Czech Republic, she spent the first seven years of her career working as a reporter, script-writer and presenter for various TV programmes of the Czech Public Service Television. She later took a career break to pursue further education and added a Master's in Science from the International Space University, France, to her Bachelor's in Journalism and Master's in Cultural Anthropology from Prague's Charles University. She worked as a reporter at the Engineering and Technology magazine, freelanced for a range of publications including Live Science, Space.com, Professional Engineering, Via Satellite and Space News and served as a maternity cover science editor at the European Space Agency.