Elon Musk’s SpaceX changed the space game when it launched and landed the first reusable rocket. With that one achievement, it set us on a course to more affordable space travel.
Now a slew of Musk’s fellow tech billionaires are chasing a similar turning point in the energy industry, according to Bloomberg: the creation of the first commercially-viable nuclear fusion reactor.
Nuclear fusion means generating energy by fusing atoms together. It’s the same type of reaction that powers stars like the Sun — and while we can already accomplish it here on Earth, we can’t do so without expending more energy than we generate.
Now, tech billionaires such as Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Richard Branson are all investing heavily in research to develop cost-effective nuclear fusion reactors, from General Fusion Inc. to TAE Technologies.
While the creation of reusable rockets is democratizing access to space, the ambitions of those pursuing working nuclear fusion are driven by what’s happening here on Earth.
“If you care about climate change, you have to care about the timescale and not just the ultimate solution,” said Mowry. “Governments aren’t working with the urgency needed.”
It took a private space company to finally build a reusable rocket. Maybe it’ll take a private company to make usable nuclear fusion a reality, too.
READ MORE: Billionaires Chase ‘SpaceX Moment’ for the Holy Grail of Energy [Bloomberg]
More on nuclear fusion: MIT Is Taking on Fusion Power. Could This Be the Time It Actually Works?