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Sunday, September 27, 2009
Stephen Hawking calls for massive investment in lunar and Martian colonization
Stephen Hawking called for a massive investment in establishing colonies on the Moon and Mars in a lecture in honour of NASA's 50th anniversary. He argued that the world should devote about 10 times as much as NASA's current budget - or 0.25% of the world's financial resources - to space.
The renowned University of Cambridge physicist has previously spoken in favour of colonising space as an insurance policy against the possibility of humanity being wiped out by catastrophes like nuclear war and climate change. He argues that humanity should eventually expand to other solar systems.
But in a speech in Washington, DC, US, delivered in honour of NASA's 50th anniversary in 2008, Hawking focused on near-term possibilities, backing the space agency's goals of returning astronauts to the Moon by 2020 and sending humans to Mars soon after that. The Moon is a good place to start because it is "close by and relatively easy to reach", Hawking said. "The Moon could be a base for travel to the rest of the solar system," he added. Mars would be "the obvious next target", with its abundant supplies of frozen water, and the tantalising possibility that life may have been present there in the past......
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"The knowledge that we have now is but a fraction of the knowledge we must get, whether for peaceful use or for national defense. We must depend on intensive research to acquire the further knowledge we need ... These are truths that every scientist knows. They are truths that the American people need to understand." (Harry S. Truman 1948).