By Chelsea Gohd
In this new space age, we are reaching far beyond the Moon and space travel and considering colonizing other planets. Stephen Hawking has expressed just how dire this need to move away from Earth may be.
New space age
Professor Stephen Hawking is old enough to remember the first space age, which came about in the mid-20th century as NASA scientists raced agencies around the world to land the first astronaut on the Moon. This exciting time saw the dawn of countless technologies and techniques still used today. As private companies like SpaceX enter the ring with government aerospace programs and and public consensus collectively warms to the Red Planet, we seem to be entering a new space age.
Recently, at Starmus Festival 2017, WIRED explored the concept of a new space age with key figures, the most notable of which being Professor Stephen Hawking, who is a key member of the advisory board for the festival.
Professor Stephen Hawking has traditionally been straightforward about his opinions on climate change, space travel, and much more. Professor Hawking has even gone as far as to say “I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth.” To Wired, Hawking discussed many things, including the future of the aerospace industry and what might be possible within this new space age.
Professor Stephen Hawking
When asked what scientific endeavors should be pursued most urgently, Professor Hawking asserts that this priority should be “to pursue rigorously a space-exploration programme, [with] a view to eventually colonising suitable planets for human habitation.” This concept stems from his previous comments about how he believes we should start planning for our next home because of how much damage we have done to the Earth. Professor Hawking isn’t pulling any punches with his view on our role as harmful Earth-inhabitants. He boldly stated: “I believe we have reached the point of no return.”
Hawking continued, “Our Earth is becoming too small for us, global population is increasing at an alarming rate and we are in danger of self-destructing.” NASA, Elon Musk with SpaceX, and even Jeff Besoz with Blue Origins are all on the forefront of the emerging new space age. Professor Hawking’s remarks solidify a deeper and more serious reason for supporting and advancing this new era of aerospace innovation. While not everyone in the scientific world agrees with him, the growing antagonisms on Earth continue to threaten the very survival of countless individuals, and this precarious reality is only worsening. Hawking simplified this idea by enjoining us all to actively pursue an alternative way of living.”
In the mid 20th century, the great space race focused on reaching the Moon and proving that space travel, in general, is possible. And so, in this second space age, the goal has been set much higher; or farther, rather. And, while not everyone agrees with Hawking that we need to leave Earth, this new space age centers heavily around reaching our nearest neighbor Mars, and exploring greater depths of deep space than have ever before been imagined, with our hearts and minds committed to colonize such distant and captivating new worlds.
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