In an article at MSNBC renowned Physicist Stephen Hawking says humans must learn to inhabit other planets in order for the species to survive. He believes the earth, through some catastrophe, will become uninhabitable at some point in the future.
“It is important for the human race to spread out into space for the survival of the species,” Hawking said. “Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of.”
The British astro- physicist told a news conference in Hong Kong that humans could have a permanent base on the moon in 20 years and a colony on Mars in the next 40 years.
Of course, thanks to Congressional pork, we may never make it. In the past few years, congressional earmarks have ballooned. In fiscal year 1996, there were 958 earmarks; in fiscal year 2005, there were 14,000. These pork projects are affecting NASA, forcing the agency to “slash science, engineering and education programs to pay for billions of dollars in congressional pet projects, most of which have little to do with the agency’s mission to explore space.” While President Bush has expressed his commitment to NASA and space exploration, Congress has undermined both goals. Since 2001, “Congress has directed the space agency to spend more than $3 billion on special projects, most of them small endeavors sought by individual lawmakers for the benefit of their home districts.” Projects have included a “sprawling headquarters building for a non-profit research group in West Virginia” created by Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), who is under fire for ethics violations; a “website and laboratory for the Gulf of Maine Aquarium;” and construction or renovation of dozens of museums, planetariums and college science labs. As a result of these pork projects, NASA may have to cut robotic space probes, education programs, the International Space Station, and missions to the moon.