Written by Innovate UK, who are the British government’s innovation agency. They are focused on finding British businesses and entrepreneurs who use new science and technology to drive economic growth.

In the future, travelling to space could be as accessible as today’s flights to Europe. In Innovate UK’s latest future predictions video, we look at what the future of space will be like. From hypersonic flights to advances in satellite imagery, here’s what to expect and where technological advances will take us.

The development of satellites

There are plenty of satellites already in the Earth’s orbit, though tomorrow’s satellites will be smaller and smarter than ever before. We’ll use satellites to gather vital information, more accurately than ever before.

Satellites will play a huge role in our everyday lives without us even realising it. This will include everything from precise weather predictions to highly reliable internet connectivity.

Future uses of satellites

Gemma Ball, of Innovate UK and the Satellite Applications Catapult, speaks of the future uses of satellites:

“You might use satellites to help with outdoor pursuits, such as skiing, hiking or surfing. Alternatively, a farmer would use satellites to help monitor crop growth or predict diseases all from a hundred miles above the Earth”.

Satellite imagery advances will come on leaps and bounds. These will not only be widely available, but highly detailed too. You’d be able to see people and cars moving, almost in real-time. These advances have led to a number of questions surrounding privacy concerns. This is understandable, though technology will still blur faces and car registration plates as they do today.

In the next decade or two, we could be using satellites to mine asteroids for vital minerals to be used on Earth. When we possess the capabilities to achieve this, it’s likely to spark a booming industry which removes the scarcity of many precious resources.

Faster, more efficient travel

Many discussions surrounding the future of transport centre upon the development of connected and autonomous vehicles. When road-ready, these will rely on satellites to guide the movements and synchronicity of vehicle networks. Motorways, for instance, are likely to have a designated lane for driverless cars. Satellites will monitor and coordinate vehicle activities in these lanes from space. 

It’s not all about driverless cars though. Satellites will be utilised across the wider push towards intelligent mobility. They will be used to aid superfast trains and even help to put more planes in the sky. Generally, satellites will help in the achievement of transport systems which run more efficiently and safer than ever before.

London to Sydney in two hours

One of the more headline grabbing developments comes in the form of hypersonic planes. Tests have already confirmed the possibility of this aviation achievement. In the future, flying from London to Sydney in just two hours is an everyday feat. Specialist planes will travel 90km above the Earth at more than five times the speed of sound. The immediate benefits will be dramatically reduced journey time and the opportunities presented by a more accessible world, though there’s more than this to be excited about. As space ports begin to open globally, we can expect huge potential for economic growth.

What about space colonisation?

As our technological capabilities improve, so does our concern for the Earth’s future. So, how possible is space colonisation? Is this on the agenda for space innovation?

The short answer is yes, though we do have a long way to go. In time, researchers will touch down on Mars to carry out research and studies, leading to the potential for genuine human colonies. This isn’t expected for another decade or two but it’s looking increasingly likely we’ll spread our reach further into space.

If you’re interested in finding more future predictions like this, you can subscribe to Innovate UK’s YouTube channel here.

Additionally, you can follow @InnovateUK on Twitter.