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2025 timeline contents




Manned missions to the Moon

During this period, at least two space agencies conduct manned exploration of the Moon. This occurs in parallel with private commercial ventures including lunar tourists. The huge length of time since Apollo had led to a perception among the general public that space travel was making little or no progress. In reality, a number of developments were underway.

Perhaps most notable was the rapid emergence of China. In 2003, its first astronaut had been placed into orbit. This was followed by two additional manned missions in 2005 and 2008. Within a decade, China was building its first space station,* while launching probes to the lunar surface including a sample return mission.* The country had even greater ambitions, however, putting its first astronauts on the Moon by the late 2020s.* This would take place in the southern polar region, with abundant solar energy, relatively stable temperatures and the presence of water-ice.*

Russia was making strides too. After years of stagnation, its space program saw a resurgence in the 2010s with a dramatic increase in funding.* A new spaceport was operational by 2018, while rockets were being developed based on cheaper acetylene and ammonia fuel,* along with huge payloads up to 180 tons. By the early 2030s, this combination of better infrastructure and technology, increased funding and government commitment would lead to a manned Russian presence on the Moon.*


china moon 2025
China on the Moon, 2025-2030.


NASA had been developing a new rocket – the Space Launch System (SLS)* – along with a manned spacecraft placed at Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2.* The agency's longer term goals included sending astronauts to Mars, rather than the Moon's surface.* However, private commercial ventures, such as inflatable modules designed by Bigelow Aerospace, were also getting underway and involved some testing and collaboration with NASA.** Additionally, the SLS had performed lunar orbits during its testing,* along with crewed asteroid missions.*

The European Space Agency (ESA) was less vocal than other agencies when it came to manned lunar missions. Announced in 2001, its Aurora Programme included the goal of sending astronauts to the Moon and Mars during the late 2020s and early 2030s. However, these plans were quietly dropped after being challenged by ESA's main financial contributors (France, Germany and Italy). Lacking direction and leadership, the programme became focused on robotic-only exploration of Mars.*

Other nations had shown an interest in manned lunar exploration and even permanent bases – including Japan, India and Iran. However, despite making significant progress, a lack of technical experience and the sheer financial commitment needed would postpone their goals until somewhat further into the future.



The Advanced Technology Large-Aperture Space Telescope (ATLAST) conducts its life-searching mission

The Advanced Technology Large-Aperture Space Telescope (ATLAST) is a major new space observatory launched by NASA. It has substantially higher resolution than Hubble and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), with a primary mirror that dwarfs both. Its angular resolution is 10 times better than JWST, with a sensitivity limit up to 2,000 times better than Hubble.


advanced technology large aperture space telescope 2025 2030 2035


ATLAST is a flagship mission of the 2025-2035 period, designed to address one of the most compelling questions of our time: is there life elsewhere in the Galaxy? It attempts to accomplish this by detecting "biosignatures" (such as molecular oxygen, ozone, water and methane) in the spectra of terrestrial exoplanets.*

Operating in the ultraviolet, optical and infrared wavelengths, its mirror is so powerful that it can distinguish the atmosphere and surface of Earth-sized exoplanets, at distances up to 150 light years – including their climate and rotation rate.* ATLAST enables astronomers to glean information on the nature of dominant land features, along with changes in cloud cover. It even has the potential to detect seasonal variations in surface vegetation.

In addition to searching for life, ATLAST has the performance required to reveal the underlying physics driving star formation and to trace complex interactions between dark matter, galaxies and the intergalactic medium.

The observatory is placed at Sun-Earth Lagrange point L2. Servicing and maintenance are performed using a robotic ferry, with occasional help from astronaut crews flying in the Orion spacecraft (which allows NASA to gain experience for manned Solar System missions). Like the Hubble Space Telescope, ATLAST has a 20-year lifespan. By the 2050s, it is being succeeded by telescopes of truly prodigious magnitude, offering detailed close-up views of distant exoplanets.*


advanced technology large aperture space telescope 2025 2030 2035
Credit: Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems & NASA/STScI



Mouse revival from cryopreservation

Cryopreservation – a process where cells or whole tissues are preserved by cooling to sub-zero temperatures – witnesses major advances during this period. By far the most notable achievement is a mouse being revived from storage at −196°C.

In the past, among the most serious challenges to overcome had been damage from crystallisation as a result of the freezing process. During the first decade of the 21st century, this problem was comprehensively solved by the development of cryoprotectants offering complete vitrification. In other words, the body being preserved was turned into a glass, rather than crystalline solid.

A number of issues remained, however – such as the toxicity of these cryoprotectants, as well as the fracturing that occurred due to simple thermal stress. In subsequent decades, research saw a dramatic acceleration and resulted in progressively more successful techniques, culminating in the mouse revival.*

Although a human revival is still many years away (and fraught with ethical, legal and social hurdles), such a feat now appears to be a realistic prospect. Once considered the stuff of science fiction, cryopreservation becomes an increasingly regular feature in mainstream scientific literature. Many new startup companies are formed around this time, promising to "resurrect" people at some future date.


future prospects cryopreservation
Photo courtesy of Alcor Life Extension Foundation.




The threat of bioterrorism is peaking

Biotechnology is now sufficiently advanced, widespread and inexpensive that a small group of people – or even a single person – can threaten the survival of humanity. Desktop fabrication labs, genetic databases and AI software are becoming accessible to the public. These enable the rapid research and synthesis of DNA, for those with appropriate technical knowledge.

Criminals have already begun to exploit this – providing access to drugs and other substances without prescriptions, for example (like offshore Internet pharmacies of earlier decades) – and now terrorists are making use of them too.

In the past, government agencies were able to combat bioterrorism by restricting access to pathogens themselves. This was achieved by regulating the laboratory use of potentially deadly agents, such as the Ebola virus. However, the advent of DNA synthesis technology means that simply restricting access to the actual pathogen no longer provides the security it once did. Since the gene sequence is a "blueprint", i.e. a form of coded information, once an organism has been sequenced it can be synthesised without using culture samples or stock DNA.

As synthesis technology has continued to advance, it has become cheap, more accessible and far easier to utilise. Like the personal computer revolution of the early 1980s, biotechnology is diffusing into mainsteam society. At the same time, the ongoing need for medical breakthroughs has necessitated a gradual easing of database regulations. Furthermore, the DNA sequences for certain pathogens – such as anthrax, botulism and smallpox – have already been available on the Internet, for decades.

It's therefore become alarmingly easy to produce a new virus (possibly an even deadlier version of an existing one) using a relatively low level of knowledge and equipment. Another, more sinister consequence, is the ability to target specific races or genetic groups of people.

One such "home made" bioweapon is unleashed around this time, with devastating results. There are significant casualties worldwide.* The threat begins to subside in the 2030s, as new defensive technologies – such as nanobots – become available to the general population. These devices, injected into the bloodstream, can be programmed to identify and eliminate harmful pathogens.


bioterrorism future 2020 2025 2030 timeline terrorism biohazard synthetic genomics



Hypersonic missiles are in military use

When launched, cruise missiles have typically reached 500-600 mph (800-965 km/h). However, a new generation of air-breathing supersonic combustion ramjet (scramjet) engines is now emerging on the battlefield after many years of testing and development. These are capable of exceeding Mach 5, or about 3,840 mph (6,150 km/h), making them hypersonic.*

As well as enhancing the responsiveness of a warfighter, the survivability of these missiles as they fly over enemy territory is greatly improved, since they are difficult (if not impossible) to hit at such a high speed.

Now that military use of scramjets has been perfected, commercial use will soon follow. In the 2030s, the first hypersonic airliners begin to appear, capable of travelling around the globe in under four hours.**


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Some of Britain's most well-known animal species are going extinct

Due to a combination of habitat loss, agricultural intensification, road accidents, pesticides, pollution and other human interference, some of Britain's most iconic and well-known animals are disappearing. This includes hedgehogs, red squirrels, cuckoos, brown hares, Scottish wildcats, natterjack toads, red-necked phalaropes, woodland grouse, and turtle doves.*** Many butterfly species have also declined drastically.*


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Rhinos are going extinct in the wild

Rhinos are among the largest remaining megafauna, a class of giant animals that were common in the last ice age.* Of the five main species of rhino, the white rhinoceros is the heaviest, with adults weighing 3,500 kg (7,700 lb) and reaching a head-to-body length of 4.6 m (15 ft).

Because of their size, rhinos have few natural predators other than humans. Alongside the mammoth, woolly rhinos became numerous during the Last Glacial Maximum (20-25,000 years ago), but were eventually hunted to extinction by early man. In modern times, the remaining species have declined even more rapidly. The black rhino, for example, fell in numbers from 70,000 in the late 1960s to only 3,600 in 2004.* A subspecies – the West African black rhino – was declared extinct in 2011, while the Javan rhino died out in Vietnam the same year.

The early 21st century witnessed an alarming upward trend in poaching. By 2012, more rhinos were being killed in South Africa during a single week than were killed in a whole year a decade previously. Fetching a street value of £40,000 a kilo, rhino horn was becoming even more valuable than gold, due to the misguided perception that it cured cancer. It was also popular in some cultures as a form of jewellery. Organised crime had become involved, with gangs now using hi-tech equipment for industrial-scale killing.

Despite conservation efforts, the situation continued to worsen. By the late 2020s, the last remaining rhinos are disappearing from the wild.* Only a handful remain in captivity. It is doubtful that any viable breeding population can be restored anytime soon, if ever.


rhino timeline rhinos extinct by 2015 2020 2025


Human brain simulations are becoming possible

The exponential growth of computer processing power has made it possible to form accurate models of every part of the human brain.** Between 2000 and 2025, there is a millionfold increase in computational power, together with vastly improved scanning resolution and bandwidth.

Until recently, only separate regions of the brain had been modelled in any detail – but scientists are now able to combine them into a complete, real-time simulation. Like the Human Genome Project, there were many in the scientific community who doubted the brain could be mapped so quickly. Once again, they failed to account for the exponential (rather than linear) growth of information technology.


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Medical nanobots are being developed

Nano-scale robots – orders of magnitude smaller than earlier micro-sized versions – are being developed as part of efforts to improve healthcare. In some countries they have reached the human trial stage and will soon be approved by government. Utilised in medical research and treatments, their size will enable them to reach places in the body that were simply inaccessible before or too delicate for conventional instruments to operate on.

In the coming years, the most important breakthroughs will be in the treatment of cancer. Using nanobots, it will be possible to detect tumours earlier than ever before and target them with far more precision. Even patients who would previously have been classed as terminally ill will routinely be saved. Monitoring of heart conditions, neurological disorders and many other illnesses will also improve dramatically. Combined with enormous strides in stem cell research, this will create a new generation of medical treatments reaching a whole new level of sophistication and efficiency.

The nanobots themselves are built on a molecule-by-molecule basis, via positionally-controlled diamond mechanosynthesis and diamondoid nanofactories. Each robot is capable of propelling itself using tiny motors and is equipped with microscopic sensing, guidance and communication devices.




3D-printed human organs

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, was first developed in the mid-1980s. Initially used for industrial applications such as rapid prototyping, it fell dramatically in cost during the 2010s and became available to a much wider audience.*

Arguably the most transformative breakthroughs were occurring in health and medicine. Customised, 3D-printed body parts were saving peoples' lives and included artificial jaw bones,* bioresorbable splints for breathing* and replacement skull parts,* among many other uses. Non-critical applications included dental implants* and exoskeletons to assist with mobility and joint movement.*

Even greater advances were taking place, however. 3D printing was no longer limited to inorganic materials like polymers or metals. It was being adapted to construct living, biological systems. Layer after layer of cells, dispensed from printer heads, could be placed exactly where needed with precision down to micrometre scales. Initially demonstrated for simple components like blood vessels and tissues,** more sophisticated versions later emerged in combination with scaffolds to hold larger structures in place. Eventually, the first complete organs were developed with sufficient nutrients, oxygen and growth vectors to survive as fully-functioning replacements in mouse models.

By 2025 – after testing on animals – customised 3D-printing of major human organs is becoming feasible for the first time.** Although yet to be fully perfected (as certain types of organs remain too complex), this is nevertheless a major boost for life extension efforts. In the coming decades, more and more of the 78 organs in the human body will become printable.*


future 3d printing technology
Credit: ExplainingTheFuture.com





China is becoming highly urbanised

Much of China is now highly urbanised and densified. Its growing economy has led to the construction of literally tens of thousands of new skyscrapers all over the country. There are now over 200 cities with more than a million inhabitants, compared with just 35 in the whole of Europe circa 2010.* Even remote and isolated regions have seen development on an unprecedented scale. Widespread infrastructure such as maglev trains, airports, bridges and tunnels is forming an extensive network to all corners of the nation, leaving few areas untouched. China is well on its way to becoming a developed country.

Some of the largest metropolitan areas – such as Hong Kong and Shenzhen – have actually begun to overlap and form mega-cities overtaking Tokyo in population and land area. Many of the world's tallest buildings can now be found in China, including kilometre-high "supertalls".

All of this has had a considerable impact on the price of steel and other materials, leading to cutbacks of many projects in Europe, America and elsewhere. The rise of neighbouring India is adding to this. The West now has reduced influence on setting the price of metals. Meanwhile, enormous profits are being made by construction and mining firms, leading to many high profile takeovers and acquisitions. At the same time, record accident numbers during this time – as a result of so much construction activity – are leading to tighter industrial regulations and improved safety.

As China grows, its energy requirements are soaring. The country has prepared for this by strengthening relations with Central Asian countries and importing more oil and gas from them, especially Turkmenistan which has made significant new discoveries. China's entry into Central Asia was also partly motivated by the need to reduce its dependency on (a) the Middle East, and (b) the Malacca Strait for shipping oil from the Persian Gulf and Africa; this stretch of water had become increasingly vulnerable to pirate attacks, and was the subject of ongoing political tensions regarding its control.

As well as strengthening its oil imports, gains have been made from efficiency and conservation programmes, along with increased use of nuclear power. By 2025, China's nuclear generating capacity is nearly 150 billion kilowatthours (khwh), passing that of both Canada and Russia.* In the near future, this will increase still further, as 4th generation plants become available. Falling prices have also greatly boosted solar and wind.


future beijing china skyline 2025 2020 timeline
© Chris Jewiss | Dreamstime.com


Vertical farms are common in cities

With a total population fast approaching 8 billion, world food demand has continued to climb. At the same time, however, the increasingly dire effects of climate change, as well as other environmental factors, are now having a serious impact. Droughts, desertification and the growing unpredictability of rainfall are reducing crop yields in many countries, while shrinking fossil fuel reserves are making large-scale commercial farming ever more costly. Decades of heavy pesticide use and excess irrigation have also played a role. The United States, for example, has been losing almost 3 tons of topsoil per acre, per year. This is between 10 and 40 times the rate at which it can be naturally replenished – a trend that, if allowed to continue, would mean all topsoil disappearing by 2070.* As this predicament worsens and food prices soar, the world is now approaching a genuine, major crisis.*

Amid the deepening sense of urgency and panic, a number of potential solutions have emerged. One such innovation has been the appearance of vertical farms. These condense the enormous resources and land area required for traditional farming into a single vertical structure, with crops being stacked on top of each other like the floors of a building. Singapore opened the world's first commercial vertical farm in 2012.* By the mid-2020s, they have become widespread, with most major urban areas using them in one form or another.*

Vertical farms offer a number of advantages. An urban site of just 1.32 hectares, for example, can produce the same food quantity as 420 hectares (1,052 acres) of conventional farming, feeding tens of thousands of people. Roughly 150 of these buildings, each 30 stories tall, could potentially give the entire population of New York City a sustainable supply of food.* Genetically modified crops have increased in use recently* and these are particularly well-suited to the enclosed, tightly-controlled environments within a vertical farm. Another benefit is that food can then be sold in the same place as it is grown. Farming locally in urban centres greatly reduces the energy costs associated with transporting and storing food, while giving city dwellers access to fresher and more organic produce.

Another major advantage of vertical farming is its sustainability. Most structures are primarily powered on site, using a combination of solar panels and wind turbines. Glass panels coated in titanium oxide cover the buildings, protecting the plants inside from any outside pollution or contaminants. These are also designed in accordance with the floor plan to maximise natural light. Any other necessary light can be provided artificially. The crops themselves are usually grown through hydroponics and aeroponics, substantially reducing the amount of space, soil, water and fertiliser required.

Computers and automation are relied upon to intelligently manage and control the distribution of these resources. Programmed systems on each level control water sprayers, lights and room temperature. These are adjusted according to the species of plant and are used to simulate weather variations, seasons and day/night cycles. Some of the more advanced towers even use robots to tend to crops.* Excess water lost through evapotranspiration is recaptured via condensers in the ceiling of each level, while any runoff is funnelled into nearby tanks. This water is then reused, creating a self-contained irrigation loop. Any water still needed for the system can be filtered out of the city's sewage system.

Vertical farms also offer environmental benefits. The tightly controlled system contained in each structure conserves and recycles not just water – but also soil and fertilisers such as phosphorus, making the total ecological footprint orders of magnitude smaller than older methods of agriculture. On top of that, the reduced reliance on arable land helps to discourage deforestation and habitat destruction. Vertical farms can also be used to generate electricity, with any inedible organic material transformed into biofuel, via methane digesters.


vertical farm future farming farmscraper 2020 2020s 2025 urban sustainability
Credit: Chris Jacobs, Gordon Graff, Spa Atelier


Solid waste is reaching crisis levels

Solid waste has been accumulating in urban areas and landfills for many decades. Poor funding for waste disposal and lack of adequate recycling measures, together with population growth and associated consumption have ensured a never-ending rise in trash levels. By the mid-2020s, global output of solid waste has almost doubled to nearly 2.5 billion tons annually, compared to 1.4 billion in 2012.** The cost of dealing with this quantity of garbage has nearly doubled as well, rising to $375 billion annually.

Developing nations, lacking the money and infrastructure to properly dispose of their trash, face the greatest crisis, with solid waste increasing five-fold in some regions. Public health is being seriously affected, since groundwater is becoming more and more polluted as a result. E-waste is proving to be even more damaging. In India, for example, discarded cellphones have increased eighteen-fold.* Rapid advances in technology, ever-more frequent upgrades to electronic products, and the aspiration for Western lifestyles have only exacerbated this situation.

Developed nations are better able to handle the problem, but since only 30% of their waste is recycled it continues to build rapidly. Plastics are a particular problem, especially in oceans and rivers, since they require centuries to fully degrade.* As well as direct environmental damage, this waste is releasing large amounts of the greenhouse gas methane, which contributes to global warming.* Public activism, though increasing at this time, has little effect in halting the overall trend.


solid waste future impacts


Kivalina has been inundated

Kivalina was a small Alaskan village located on the southern tip of a 7.5 mi (12 km) long barrier island. Home to around 400 indigenous Inuit, its people survived over countless generations by hunting and fishing. During the late 20th and early 21st centuries, a dramatic retreat of Arctic sea ice left the village extremely vulnerable to coastal erosion and storms. The US Army built a defensive wall, but this was only a temporary measure and failed to halt the advancing sea. By 2025, Kivalina has been completely abandoned, its small collection of buildings disappearing beneath the waves. The Alaska region has been warming at twice the rate of the USA as a whole, affecting many other Inuit islands. At the same time, opportunities are emerging to exploit untapped oil reserves made available by the melting ice.*


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Completion of the East Anglia Zone

The United Kingdom, one of the best locations for wind power in the world, greatly expanded its use of this energy source in the early 21st century – offshore wind in particular. With better wind speeds available offshore compared to on land, offshore wind's contribution in terms of electricity supplied could be higher, and NIMBY opposition to construction was usually much weaker. The United Kingdom became the world leader in offshore wind power when it overtook Denmark in 2008. It also developed the largest offshore wind farm in the world, the 175-turbine London Array.

As costs fell and technology improved, various new projects got underway. By 2014, the United Kingdom had installed 3,700MW – by far the world's largest capacity – more than Denmark (1,271MW), Belgium (571MW), Germany (520MW) the Netherlands (247MW) and Sweden (212MW) combined. Growing at between 25 and 35 per cent annually, the United Kingdom's offshore wind capacity was on track to reach 18,000MW by 2020,* enough to supply one-fifth of the country's electricity.

The largest of these projects, known as "Dogger Bank", was built off the northeast coast of England in the North Sea. This gigantic installation featured 600 turbines covering an area the size of Yorkshire* and generating 7,200MW from the early 2020s. Eight other major sites were being planned around the United Kingdom* with potential for up to 31,000MW.

Among the biggest of these other sites was the East Anglia Zone. This was divided into six separate areas, each with 1,200MW capacity for a combined total of 7,200MW – the same as Dogger Bank. Each turbine would have a rotor diameter of 200m, and a tip height up to 245m. The first stage received planning permission in 2014 and was operational by 2019,* providing a clean, renewable energy source for 820,000 homes. The remaining five stages were approved between 2016 and 2020,* followed by a similar schedule for construction. When fully completed in 2025, the whole East Anglia Zone would supply a total of four million homes.

With ongoing concerns over energy and climate change, offshore wind capacity in the United Kingdom continued to grow rapidly in subsequent decades. Eventually it became integrated into a continent-wide "supergrid" stretching across Europe.* This was followed by "peak wind" in the late 21st century* as the resources utilised offshore reached a theoretical maximum of 2,200 GW* – though alternative energies such as fusion had arrived by then.*


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east anglia zone timeline


Completion of Masdar City

Masdar City is the latest in a series of hi-tech, self-sufficient, eco-friendly cities appearing around the world. Construction of this massive project began in 2008; the first phase was completed in 2015 and the final phase is finished in 2025.* By now, it covers an area totalling 6 sq km (2.3 sq mi) and is home to over 50,000 residents.

Like the Great City in China, traditional motor cars are banned from the city. Most travel can be accomplished via public mass transit and personal rapid transit (PRT) systems, with existing road and railways connecting to other locations outside the city.* The absence of motor vehicles, coupled with Masdar's perimeter wall, allows for narrow and shaded streets, keeping out hot desert winds and helping funnel cool breezes around the city. At street level, temperatures are 12-15°C lower than the rest of Abu Dhabi.* Masdar City is carbon neutral, powered entirely by renewable energy and includes the largest solar power plant in the Middle East. Vertical farms, now emerging in many urban regions, provide much of the city's food.*

Later in the 21st century, this style of architecture will come to dominate the world – especially in the Middle East – as nations everywhere are forced to decarbonise their economies, adapt to higher temperatures, reduce waste and lower their reliance on foreign imports. For some countries, however, these efforts will come too late.*


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masdar city 2025 2020 2016 uae future sustainable
Copyright © Masdar City



Contact with the Voyager probes is lost

Voyager I is the farthest man-made object from Earth – more than 14 billion miles (22 billion km) away, or 150 times the distance between the Sun and Earth. Both Voyager I and its sister probe, Voyager II, have remained operational for nearly half a century, continuing to transmit data back to NASA. They have left the heliosphere and are now headed towards the Oort Cloud. By 2025, however, onboard power is finally starting to wane. Instruments begin shutting down, one by one, until eventually all contact is lost.*

Each probe carries a gold-plated audio-visual disc, in the event that either spacecraft is ever found by intelligent alien life. The discs carry images of Earth and its lifeforms, a range of scientific information, along with a medley, "Sounds of Earth", that includes the sounds of whales, a baby crying, waves breaking on a shore, a variety of music from different cultures and eras, plus greetings in 60 different languages.*


voyager 1 diagram





High-speed rail networks are being expanded in many countries

Many countries have radically overhauled their rail transport infrastructure.

In Spain, more than 10,000km of high-speed track has been laid, making it the most extensive network in the world. 90 percent of the country's population now live within 50 km of a bullet train station.*

In Britain, the first phase of a major high-speed rail line is nearing completion. This will travel up the central spine of the country – connecting London with England's next largest city, Birmingham. It will eventually be expanded to Manchester and the north. Trains will be capable of reaching 250 mph, slashing previous journey times.*

In Japan, Tokyo will soon be connected with Nagoya via superfast magnetic levitation trains. Tests conducted in previous decades showed that it was possible to build a railway tunnel in a straight route through the Southern Japanese Alps. The first generation of these trains already held the world speed record, at 581 km/h (or 361 mph); but recent advances in carriage design have pushed this still further, to speeds which are fast enough to compete with commercial airliners.*

Many other countries are investing in high-speed rail during this time, due to its speed and convenience, along with soaring fuel costs and environmental factors which have made car and air travel less desirable. Even America – which for decades had neglected its rail network – is making big progress in this area.*


high speed rail map 2025 future
Source: Federal Railroad Administration



A comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. airspace system is complete

The final upgrades of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) are completed this year. This has involved a complete overhaul of the existing air transport network. Many aspects of the National Airspace System (NAS) had been failing because of a reliance on largely obsolete technology. The navigation system, for example, which relied on ground-based radar beacons, was based on technology from the 1940s.

NextGen brings pervasive upgrades and improvements to the entire system during the 2010s and early 2020s. This includes physical infrastructure as well as computer systems. Hundreds of new ground-based stations are built to allow satellite surveillance coverage of nearly the entire country. New safety and navigation procedures are introduced that markedly reduce flight times, while offering a more dynamic method of air traffic control.


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Advances in computer power and digital communication have produced what is now a far more integrated and efficient national system. One of the largest technical advances is the complete replacement of the previous radar navigation system with a modern, GPS-based version. This creates detailed, three-dimensional highways in the sky, and takes into account variations in topography and weather – enabling pilots to fly shorter, more precise routes. By 2018, this system was in place at every major US airport.

Once on the runway, taxiing planes are guided by automated systems. These use data gathered on the position of every other plane and vehicle to present pilots and controllers with detailed, real-time traffic maps of the tarmac. Runway capacity is increased with the introduction of multiple take-off and landing pathways, as opposed to the older, single route approach.

Overall, these upgrades offer substantial improvements in flight-times, air pollution and fuel consumption. Delays are reduced by nearly 40%, saving tens of billions of dollars. Over 1.4 billion gallons of fuel are saved and CO2 emissions are cut by 14 million metric tons. These numbers will continue to improve steadily over the years.*

Aircraft themselves are evolving in form, function and efficiency. A number of striking new designs have emerged with significant technological and environmental benefits.*


future air travel technology 2020 2025



U.S. fuel economy standards have dramatically improved

In addition to rail and air travel (described earlier), road vehicles are witnessing major improvements. In the U.S., fuel economy standards have reached almost 55 miles per gallon (mpg) for cars and 39 miles per gallon for trucks. In other words, these vehicles now travel nearly twice as far on the same amount of fuel as they did in 2010.

This surge in efficiency, enacted by the Obama administration, was prompted by concerns over energy security and reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Another factor was the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions. Light duty vehicles reached an average of 34 mpg by 2016 and these advances continued into the 2020s.* Around 6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases have now been curtailed by this program – more than the total CO2 emitted by the entire United States in 2010.

Electric and hybrids are growing rapidly in number thanks to falling costs and improvements in battery life. By the early 2030s, they will account for the majority of new vehicles on the nation's roads.


2025 fuel economy standards



Railguns are in use by the U.S. navy

After years of research and development, railguns are now in common use on U.S. naval ships.* Unlike traditional artillery, which create force with explosive materials, the railgun is powered entirely by electricity from the ship's grid. It works by storing up a supply of electrical power, using what is called a pulse-forming network, which is then converted to an electromagnetic pulse. This travels up the barrel along parallel tracks of magnetic rails, forcing the projectile out of the gun, away from the power source.

The weapon is capable of firing an 18-inch metal projectile, itself equipped with complex internal guidance systems, over 100 miles at close to mach 6. This is fast enough to set the air around the projectile ablaze, while delivering it to targets in mere minutes. Explosive rounds are unnecessary, since the kinetic energy released upon impact yields more power than traditional bombs of much greater size. New rapid-fire systems allow for a launch rate of around ten per minute.

A number of technical issues first had to be overcome to reach this point though. Advances in materials technology were required to keep the barrel from wearing out after repeated firings, while the projectiles needed to be outfitted in a way that protected internal guidance systems during launch. New cooling techniques also had to be introduced. The guns themselves originally required more electricity than standard naval ships could provide. This was overcome with advances in energy efficiency, along with ultra-dense storage batteries.

In combat situations, the railgun offers major benefits. It has greater accuracy over extremely long ranges. It can be used as initial cover fire for marines landing on shore, or as a defense against incoming missiles and other threats. Ships armed with these hi-tech weapons are able to attack with virtual impunity, safe from almost any retaliatory strike. Railguns become widespread around the world in the 2030s, adopted by many other navies. This devastating form of weaponry provides a considerable advantage in modern conflicts.**




Stress and anxiety continue to rise

Stress, anxiety and depression continue to worsen, due to a range of factors affecting peoples' day-to-day lives. In 2000, approximately one in four could expect to develop a form of mental illness. By now, this figure has become even higher. This is especially true of those living in high density urban centres.

Ever-increasing work-related stress, living costs, bad diets, overcrowding and pollution; constant scaremongering by media and goverments; the intensifying problems of climate change, peak oil and terrorism; plus a host of related security and surveillance measures, along with various health scares originating from abroad... the list goes on and on.

Due to the worsening oil crisis, fuel shortages are occurring in many countries during this time, with long queues at petrol stations becoming a regular sight. Meanwhile, record heatwaves and dangerous levels of air pollution are making summers unbearable in some cities.

In Europe, right-wing nationalist governments are on the rise, due to the massive amount of immigration occurring from Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere. The combined impact of these many factors is having a serious impact on the mental health of citizens.*


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1 See 2022.

2 See 2017.

3 "If everything goes according to plan, China will send a man to the moon by 2025 according to Ye Peijin, the commander in chief of the Chang'e (lunar landing) programme."
See China to build its own space station, The Telegraph:
Accessed 31st May 2013.

4 "China will be able to land two to three astronauts on the moon by 2025, with the South Pole the most likely landing site, authorities of the Chinese lunar exploration program said."
See Chinese astronauts could land on moon by 2025, China.org.cn:
Accessed 31st May 2013.

5 See 2018.

6 Russia develops revolutionary new rocket engine, Future Timeline Blog:
Accessed 31st May 2013.

7 Russia outlines its rocket-development strategy, Russian Space Web:
Accessed 31st May 2013.

8 See 2017.

9 See 2019.

10 See 2033.

11 NASA could join private customers for a permanant inflatable moonbase in the 2020s and become a tenant of a Bigelow spacestation after the International Space Station, Next Big Future:
Accessed 31st May 2013.

12 From Space Station to Moon Base – Bigelow expands on inflatable ambitions, NASA Space Flight:
Accessed 31st May 2013.

13 Space Launch System: Proposed missions and schedule, Wikipedia:
Accessed 31st May 2013.

14 See 2021-2025.

15 Aurora programme, Wikipedia:
Accessed 31st May 2013.

16 Advanced Technology Large-Aperture Space Telescope, Space Telescope Science Institute:
Accessed 28th April 2013.

17 Advanced Technology Large-Aperture Space Telescope (ATLAST): A Technology Roadmap for the Next Decade, NASA:
Accessed 28th April 2013.

18 See 2055.

19 Aubrey de Grey – Reddit AMA Video Responses, SENS Foundation:
Accessed 30th June 2012.

20 For a somewhat unscientific (but nevertheless interesting) perspective on this, see The Doomsday Curve:
Accessed 4th September 2010.

21 "... we probably won't start hitting the battlefield until at least the 2025-2030 timeframe."
See Hypersonic Weapons Could Hit Battlefield by 2025, Space.com:
Accessed 22nd May 2013.

22 Commercial hypersonic scramjet flight would likely come soon after the technology achieves military use, he added. "You look historically, after things are used for military applications, there's a couple of years and it usually then works its way into commercial application," Vogel said. But in this case, he added, commercial and military use "may happen about the same time, because the timeframes have been shrinking over the course of many years."
See Hypersonic Weapons Could Hit Battlefield by 2025, Space.com:
Accessed 22nd May 2013.

23 See 2033.

24 Hedgehogs may become extinct within 15 years, The Telegraph:
Accessed 12th December 2011.

25 Red squirrels and hedgehogs 'may become extinct in 20 years', The Metro:
Accessed 12th December 2011.

26 Turtle doves and partridges among wild birds in steep decline in Britain, The Guardian:
Accessed 12th December 2011.

27 Three-quarters of UK butterfly species in decline, The Guardian:
Accessed 12th December 2011.

28 Megafauna, Wikipedia:
Accessed 7th May 2012.

29 WWF Factsheet: Black Rhinoceros, WWF:
Accessed 7th May 2012.

30 Slaughter of rhinos at record high: Poaching could lead to extinction by 2025, The Independent:
Accessed 7th May 2012.

31 The Singularity is Near, by Ray Kurzweil (2005)
Accessed 7th Dec 2008.

32 Scientists to build 'human brain': Supercomputer will simulate the entire mind and will help fight against brain diseases, The Daily Mail:
Accessed 16th April 2012.

33 See 2015.

34 Artificial jaw made using 3D printer, Future Timeline Blog:
Accessed 10th August 2013.

35 Baby's life saved by 3-D printed device that restored his breathing, Future Timeline Blog:
Accessed 10th August 2013.

36 3D printing helps replace injured patient's skull, Future Timeline Blog:
Accessed 10th August 2013.

37 Research and Markets: 3D Printing 2013-2025: Technologies, Markets, Players, Yahoo! Finance:
Accessed 10th August 2013.

38 3D-printed exoskeleton helps young girl use her arms, Future Timeline Blog:
Accessed 10th August 2013.

39 Biomanufacturing laboratory: printing organs, Future Timeline Blog:
Accessed 10th August 2013.

40 Organic 3D Printing, The Shapeways Blog: 3D Printing News & Innovation:
Accessed 10th August 2013.

41 "By 2025, it is feasible that we will be able to fabricate complete functional organs, tailored for an individual patient."
See Scientists 'grow' new cartilage with help of 3D printing technology, University of Wollongong:
Accessed 10th August 2013.

42 "Sometime next decade, replacement human organs may be bioprinted to patient specification using technology derrived from today's inkjet printers."
, ExplainingTheFuture.com:
Accessed 10th August 2013.

43 "Beyond 2025, one category of 3D printing — bioprinting of living organs — has long-term potential to save or extend many lives."
Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy
, McKinsey Global Institute:
Accessed 10th August 2013.

44 China to build 10 New Yorks by 2025, International Construction Review:
Accessed 9th Sept 2008.

45 Timeline of the Chinese Nuclear Industry, 1970 to 2020, Energy Information Administration:
Accessed 9th Sept 2008.

46 What If the World's Soil Runs Out?, TIME:
Accessed 6th February 2013.

47 See 2030.

48 World's first commercial vertical farm opens in Singapore, Future Timeline Blog:
Accessed 6th February 2013.

49 "It is estimated that world population will increase to 8 billion people by 2025, and hopefully vertical farming will have full realization by then."
Vertical Farming- Providing Alternative Resources for Food Production
, Bright Hub:
Accessed 6th February 2013.

50 "Imagine a cluster of 30-story towers on Governors Island or in Hudson Yards producing fruit, vegetables, and grains while also generating clean energy and purifying wastewater. Roughly 150 such buildings, Despommier estimates, could feed the entire city of New York for a year."
, New York Magazine:
Accessed 6th February 2013.

51 Major breakthrough in deciphering bread wheat's genetic code, Future Timeline Blog:
Accessed 6th February 2013.

52 See 2016.

53 Cities to Face Sharply Rising Costs for Garbage Treatment, The World Bank:
Accessed 30th June 2012.

54 Update: Study sees global trash avalanche by 2025, Waste & Recycling News:
Accessed 30th June 2012.

55 Hazardous E-Waste Surging in Developing Countries, Science Daily:
Accessed 30th June 2012.

56 See 2600 AD.

57 Waste and the world bank, Waste Management World:
Accessed 30th June 2012.

58 The Alaskan village set to disappear under water in a decade, BBC:
Accessed 30th July 2013.

59 Offshore Wind Energy, renewableuk:
Accessed 20th June 2014.

60 Dogger Bank, Forewind:
Accessed 20th June 2014.

61 Zone Overview, Forewind:
Accessed 20th June 2014.

62 Planning Consent Granted for East Anglia ONE Offshore Windfarm, East Anglia Offshore Windfarm Zone:
Accessed 20th June 2014.

63 East Anglia Zone Could Become Center of OW Development, OffshoreWind.biz:
Accessed 20th June 2014.

64 See 2050.

65 Extrapolated from current trends in UK offshore wind capacity.

66 Wind power in the United Kingdom, Wikipedia:
Accessed 20th June 2014.

67 See 2070.

68 Masdar City to be Complete by 2025?, CleanTechnica:
Accessed 28th October 2012.

69 Masdar City official website:
Accessed 28th October 2012.

70 Masdar – the low-carbon city, BBC:
Accessed 28th October 2012.

71 Vertical Farming in Masdar City? AeroFarms' Soil-less Solution, Green Prophet:
Accessed 28th October 2012.

72 See 2060-2100.

73 Voyager – Spacecraft Lifetime, NASA:
Accessed 3rd August 2012.

74 Voyager Golden Record, goldenrecord.org:
Accessed 4th October 2009.

75 Trains in Spain signal the future, BBC.co.uk:
Accessed 26th Sept 2009.

76 High Speed 2, Wikipedia:
Accessed 7th January 2012.

77 Japanese Maglev, 500km/h, YouTube:
Accessed 26th Sept 2009.

78 High-Speed Rail, Federal Railroad Administration:
Accessed 26th Sept 2009.

79 NextGen Implementation Plan, 2012, Federal Aviation Administration:
Accessed 30th June 2012.

80 A First Look at Flight in 2025, NASA:
Accessed 30th June 2012.

81 Federal Vehicle Standards, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions:
Accessed 5th March 2013.

82 Futuristic Navy railgun with 220-mile range closer to reality, CNET:
Accessed 11th April 2012.

83 Video: Navy Fires Off Its New Weaponized Railgun, Wired:
Accessed 11th April 2012.

84 Railgun, Wikipedia:
Accessed 11th April 2012.

85 UK society 'increasingly fearful', BBC.co.uk:
Accessed 1st May 2009.




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