Stephen Hawking's enthusiasm for the idea of mankind colonising other planets looks like it is being heavily indulged by the BBC in the form of a new two part TV documentary that is to be broadcast this year:
Professor Stephen Hawking thinks the human species will have to populate a new planet within 100 years if it is to survive. With climate change, overdue asteroid strikes, epidemics and population growth, our own planet is increasingly precarious.
In this landmark series, Expedition New Earth, he enlists engineering expert Prof Danielle George and his own former student, Christophe Galfard, to find out if and how humans can reach for the stars and move to different planets.
Taking in the latest advances in astronomy, biology and rocket technology, they travel the world in search of answers. From the Atacama desert to the wilds of the North Pole, from plasma rockets to human hibernation, they discover a whole world of cutting edge research. The journey shows that Prof Hawking’s ambition isn’t as fantastical as it sounds – that science fact is closer to science fiction than we ever thought.
Expedition New Earth a 2x60' for BBC Two is a Brook Lapping production, in partnership with The Open University. The Series Producer is Lucy Haken and the Executive Producer is Greg Sanderson. The BBC Commissioning Editor, Science, is Diene Petterle."
This may explain something that the Forbes article (that I linked to in my previous post) was puzzling about. Previously Hawking has been talking about a timescale of a thousand years for mankind to colonise another planet, but this year the timescale has mysteriously dropped to only a hundred years. The 100 year period looks a lot more urgent, and might be a much more suitable timescale for the purposes of making a TV documentary.
I don't think this documentary has been broadcast by the BBC so far this year, as Im pretty sure I would have noticed it.
The first step in achieving this objective of establishing "independent space colonies" would be to set up a moon base, a development which was assumed to be almost certain to happen back in the days of the Apollo moon landings. A moon base is not likely to be very independent, but it would be an essential starting point for the general idea of setting up space colonies. But since the 1970s NASA has been reduced to, as one of Donald Trump's advisers put it, "a logistics agency concentrating on space station resupply and politically correct environmental monitoring", and US Democrat politicians in particular seem to prefer to keep it in its current state.
If Hawking wants the independent space colonies idea ever to materialise he would in my opinion have to encourage his large army of nerd followers in the USA to vote for Republican presidents, as they tend to be much more favourably disposed to the idea of setting up a moon base than the Democrats.
I vaguely remember George W Bush talking about establishing a moon base a decade ago, but my guess would be that it must have been subsequently killed off by Obama. A quick bit of Googling confirms my suspicion after finding this news article from 2010: