“I have already completed a zero gravity flight which allowed me to float weightless, but my ultimate ambition is to fly into space,” Hawking told host Piers Morgan of “Good Morning Britain” on Monday. “I thought no one would take me but Richard Branson has offered me a seat on Virgin Galactic and I said yes immediately.”
Branson’s spaceflight company aims to provide suborbital spaceflights to space tourists. However, the venture has faced a number of delays, including a fatal explosion in 2007 during a ground test and test flight crash in 2014. (Might I suggest that if Branson cannot offer the stars to Hawking, maybe Elon Musk‘s SpaceX can?)
“My three children have brought me great joy—and I can tell you what will make me happy, to travel in space,” Hawking said.
The 75-year-old theoretical physicist and cosmologist was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis lateral sclerosis (ALS) when he was 21.
Hawking actually wrote about Branson’s offer in a 2016 article published in the Guardian:
“I believe in the possibility of commercial space travel—for exploration and for the preservation of humanity. I believe that life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as a sudden nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus, or other dangers. I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go to space. We need to inspire the next generation to become engaged in space and in science in general, to ask questions: What will we find when we go to space? Is there alien life, or are we alone? What will a sunset on Mars look like?”
The renowned scientist said that Trump’s promise of the controversial border wall and the sanctioning of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines are designed to “satisfy [Trump’s] electorate, who are neither liberal nor that well-informed.”
Not only that, Hawking said that Trump should replace Scott Pruitt as the head of the U.S. Environment Protection Agency because he is “a man who does not believe that carbon dioxide causes climate change.”
“Climate change is one of the great dangers we face, and it’s one we can prevent,” Hawking said. “It affects America badly, so tackling it should win votes for [Trump’s] second term—God forbid.”
Hawking commented that the current administration’s seemingly anti-science agenda has made him feel unwelcome.
“I have many friends and colleagues [in the U.S.] and it is still a place I like and admire in many ways,” he said, “but I fear that I may not be welcome.”
Hawking has said similar remarks before. He called then-candidate Trump a “demagogue, who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.”
And during a lecture last year, he predicted that humanity has only 1,000 years left on Earth and we must find another planet to live on.
“[W]e must … continue to go into space for the future of humanity,” professor Hawking said. “I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet.”