Scientists See Future Humans on Other Planets
For years, scientists have debated the possibility of humans one day living on other planets. But one of the most famous names in science says the idea is not a fantasy, it's necessary for our survival. Noted British cosmologist Stephen Hawking recently told an audience that he doesn't think humans will survive another 1,000 years "without escaping beyond our fragile planet." Hawking's comment came as a call to continue robust space exploration, and it's an idea accepted by many in the scientific community. Space historian and author Robert Zimmerman tells KTRH he agrees that we need to expand our horizons. "That's essentially what Hawking is saying, is that someday down the road if the human race wants to survive for as long as possible, we should be living on multiple planets," says Zimmerman.
The bigger question is how to go about accomplishing such an ambitious goal. Zimmerman doesn't think a top-down government program like NASA is the best way to do it. "I much prefer, not a program, but a chaotic industry with lots of companies competing to make money," he says. Zimmerman adds that private industry is the "guaranteed future" of space exploration. However, the folks at NASA might disagree. Paul Marshall is an assistant project manager on NASA's Orion spacecraft program. He tells KTRH they are working on Hawking's goals right now. "In the Orion spacecraft, our intention is to develop a spacecraft that will explore beyond the confines of lower earth orbit into the inner solar system."
While opinions vary on the best way to pursue outer space in the future, nearly everyone in the scientific community agrees on the importance of continuing and advancing space exploration. Marshall points out that the benefits go beyond finding potential new places to live in the universe to more broad-based effects here on the home planet. "We shape our lives today, but also develop capabilities that shape the economy 10, 20 years from now," he says. Indeed, NASA space technologies have helped lead to innovations ranging from Velcro to X-rays to cell phone cameras.
Check out Robert Zimmerman's book "Genesis, the Story of Apollo 8" now available as an e-book.