Stephen Hawking lays out space timetable

Stephen Hawking
Physicist Stephen Hawking addresses the Starmus Festival via video. (Starmus via YouTube)

British physicist Stephen Hawking has repeatedly warned us that we have just a century or two to move off Earth, and he just shared his vision for how to do it.

Hawking laid out a timetable this week during a lecture titled “The Future of Humanity,” presented to an audience of 3,000 attending the Starmus Festival in Trondheim, Norway.

He said a base could be established on the moon within 30 years to serve as a gateway to the rest of the solar system. Settlers could follow up with a Mars base within 50 years. But Hawking went on to call for setting an even speedier schedule for space exploration.

The 75-year-old, wheelchair-riding physicist recalled President John F. Kennedy’s vision of putting Americans on the moon by the end of the 1960s – a deadline that was met with the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.

“A goal of a base on the moon by 2020, and a manned landing on Mars by 2025 would reignite the space program and give it a sense of purpose in the same way that President Kennedy’s target did in the ’60s,” he said, using his computer-generated voice. “The spin-off to this would be an increase in the public recognition of science generally.”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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