Zero-G News
Volume 14; Issue 83 ~ Zero-G News (ISSN 2333-7257) ~ A Publication Of Ares Institute, Inc.
Breaking News
Delta IV Lights Up The Night To Deliver Advanced Military Communications Satellite
Blazing a fiery trail in the sky above Cape...
Falcon 9 Lofts Commercial Satellite On Second Launch From LC-39A
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully orbited the EchoStar XXIII...
NASA Preps Cygnus For Third Flight On Atlas
Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft is being prepped for it...
Booster Issue Delays Delta IV / WGS-9 Launch
United Launch Alliance announced this evening that the launch...
Atlas V Wins NASA’s JPSS-2 Launch Contract
NASA’s Launch Services Program has selected United Launch Alliance’s...
Atlas V Lofts NROL-79 For The National Reconnaissance Office
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying a...
SpaceX Surprises With Planned Human Lunar Mission Announcement
Elon Musk is not someone who could be described...
Falcon 9 Soars On Historic Launch From KSC
Nearly five years after the final space shuttle mission...
NASA And NanoRacks Parter On First Commercial ISS Airlock
The International Space Station allows NASA to conduct cutting-edge...
NASA Langley Ozone Sensor Set for Launch to Space Station
Brooke Thornton has devoted eight years to a project...
NASA Sounding Rocket Successfully Launches into Alaskan Night
An experiment to measure nitric oxide in the polar...
Kennedy Space Center’s NASA Day of Remembrance Honors Fallen Astronauts
On Jan. 26, 2017, Kennedy Space Center employees and...
Atlas Begins 2017 With Successful Launch Of Missile Warning Satellite
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket successfully launched...
Falcon 9 Returns To Flight To Orbit Next-Generation Iridium Spacecraft
Four and a half months after a devastating explosion...
NASA Awards Contract for Series of CubeSat Technology Missions
NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program has selected Tyvak Nanosatellite...
SpaceX Falcon 9 / Iridium NEXT FAA Launch License
Comments What do you think?
NASA Orders Additional Commercial Crew Flights From Boeing, SpaceX
NASA took another big step to ensure reliable crew...
NASA Selects Mission to Study Black Holes, Cosmic X-ray Mysteries
NASA has selected a science mission that will allow...
SpaceX Pinpoints Cause Of Falcon 9 Explosion, Targets Launch Next Week
Four months after a massive fireball destroyed a Falcon...
Next-Generation Weather Satellite Successfully Launches On Atlas V
Perched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket,...
Antares Returns To Flight Carrying Critical Supplies For ISS
Orbital ATK successfully launched its Antares rocket carrying a...
NASA Prepares The Next-Generation Of Weather Satellite For Launch
On September 27, NASA offered members of the media...
Falcon 9 Accident Traced To Upper Stage Helium System Breach
(Editor’s Note: This is an update provided to Zero-G...
Orbital ATK Sets Target Window For Antares Return-To-Flight
Orbital ATK is targeting no earlier than Oct. 9-13,...
United Launch Alliance Announces CubeSat STEM Education Program Winners
United Launch Alliance (ULA) has selected four proposals from...
KSC Visitor Complex Destination: Mars Experience Offers A Virtual Reality Tour Of Mars
A walk on Mars may be in the future...
Emergency management: A behind the scenes look on the Eastern Range
Last week, the 45th Space Wing’s Incident Management Team...
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Begins Seven-Year Odyssey To Sample An Asteroid
Blazing a trail into the early evening sky, the...
Firing Up Rocket Engine Tests
A 100-pound liquid oxygen/liquid methane engine fires up after...
SpaceX Begins Test Fire Series On Landed Falcon 9 First Stage
Looking to re-launch one of their succeffully-landed Falcon 9...
NASA Orders Second Commercial Crew Dragon Mission From SpaceX
NASA took another important step Friday in returning U.S....
Atlas V Launches Classified Communications Relay Satellite For NRO
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying...
SpaceX Launches 9th Cargo Mission To ISS, Delivers Groundbreaking Science
Instruments to perform the first-ever DNA sequencing in space,...
Orbital ATK Conducts Final Qualification Test For Space Launch System Booster
A booster for the most powerful rocket in the...
Delta IV Blazes The Night Sky To Launch Clandestine Spy Satellite
Just five days after successfully orbiting the GPS IIF-12...
Final Block 2 GPS Satellite Launches On Atlas V
Continuing a record of perfect mission reliability, a United...
Falcon 9 Returns To Flight, Completes Historic First Earth Landing
Plummeting through the black sky above Cape Canaveral at...
SpaceX Targets December 19 Falcon 9 Return To Flight
Nearly six months after a space station resupply mission...
Cygnus Returns To Space Riding The Powerful Atlas Rocket
Space station cargo resupply missions from U.S. soil resumed...
Atlas V Successfully Launches Penultimate GPF IIF Series Spacecraft
Soaring through a crystal-clear autumn afternoon, a United Launch...
United Launch Alliance Marks 100th Launch With Morelos-3 Success
United Launch Alliance successfully launched its 100th mission today...
Atlas Successfully Deploys Fourth Mobile Comsat For U.S. Navy
Putting on a spectacular pre-sunrise light show, a United...
NASA Awards Grants For Transformative Space Technologies
NASA has selected eight university-led proposals to study innovative,...
Space Launch System RS-25 Main Engine Completes Key Full-Duration Test
Aerojet Rocketdyne has successfully completed a full duration (535...
Orbital ATK Updates Progress On ISS Cargo Delivery Program
Orbital ATK is on track to launch its next...
Orion Spacecraft Begins Critical Design Review Milestone
NASA’s Orion Program kicked off its critical design review...
NASA’s Space Launch System Passes Critical Design Review Milestone
You know the feeling of pride and achievement when...
Delta IV Launches High Capacity Digital WGS-7 Military Comsat
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket successfully...
Kennedy Space Center Opens New Small Vehicle Launch Complex
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida took another step...
Atlas Delivers Again With Newest Air Force GPS Satellite
The newest member of the the Air Force’s worldwide...
NASA Names First Four Commercial Crew Program Astronauts
As Boeing and SpaceX continue working toward the goal...
Video Feature: SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS-7 Launch In Slow Motion
During this month’s launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9...
SpaceX Delays Crucial Test, Moves Crew Dragon Abort Test To KSC
Following the successful pad abort test in May, SpaceX...
First Falcon 9 Loss Leaves SpaceX Reeling, Challenges ISS Resupply Lines
Sunday’s loss of the 19th Falcon 9 rocket on...
NASA Launches Suborbital Rocket From Wallops With Student Experiments
NASA successfully launched a NASA Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding...
NASA Hosts Rocket Week at Wallops Flight Facility
Students and educators from across the country will have...
Atlas V Launches Secret X-37B Spaceplane And Novel Solar Sail Experiment
With help from NASA, a small research satellite to...
SpaceX Successfully Completes Crew Dragon PAd Abort Test
A loud whoosh, faint smoke trail and billowing parachutes...
Five Things To Know About Dragon’s Pad Abort Test
Crew Dragon’s first critical flight test, known as a...
Blue Origin Conducts First Test Flight Of New Shepard Suborbital Rocket
Secretive space startup Blue Origin achieved a significant milestone...
NASA Launches RockSat-X Sounding Rocket With University Payloads
A NASA Terrier-Improved Malemute suborbital sounding rocket carrying the...
Falcon 9 Blasts Off With Cargo Supporting NASA’s One-Year Mission
Two tons of supplies and research cargo are headed...
Blue Origin Completes Acceptance Testing of New Shepard BE-3 Engine
Blue Origin recently completed acceptance testing of its BE‑3...
NASA’s Space Launch System to Boost Science with Secondary Payloads
When NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) launches on...
American And Russian Begin Yearlong Orbital Journey
ISS One-Year Mission Expedition 43 Soyuz TMA-16M Launch Coverage...
Delta IV Hits The Mark With Another Successful GPS Launch
Piercing a thick layer of clouds that hung low...
United Launch Alliance Lets The Public Name Its New Rocket
ULA is offering the public the opportunity to select...
SpaceX Clarifies Reason For TurkmenAlem52E Launch Delay
Over the weekend, SpaceX filled in some of the...
NASA Provides Space Access for University Developed Experiments during March 27 Flight
NASA will fly six university experiments developed by undergraduate...
Lockheed Martin Pitches Novel Concept For CRS-2 ISS Resupply
On May 10, 1869, Leland Stanford raised a hammer...
Aerojet Rocketdyne Gets Fired Up About 3D Printing
Additive Manufacturing, also known as 3d printing, has been...
ULA, SpaceX Go Head-To-Head At House Armed Services Cmte Hearing
United Launch Alliance (ULA) President and CEO Tory Bruno...
Technical Issues Prompt Falcon 9 Launch Delay For TurkmenAlem52E/MonacoSAT
Technical problems with the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage...
Spectacular Launch Delivers MMS Probes To Study Magentic Reconnection
NASA’s first-of-its kind mission to study the violent interactions...
Paper: Launch Window Assessment For The MMS Mission
Comments What do you think?
Falcon Orbits Electric Satellites On Dual-Launch Milestone
Working to build a steady launch pace and shake...
Deep Space Falcon Launch Successfully Deploys NASA’s DSCOVR Climate Observatory
The second mission of 2015 for SpaceX’s Falcon 9...
NASA Selects Winning Student Designs Of 3-D Printed Tools For Astronauts
After three months of designing and modeling, a panel...
NASA’s New Horizons Returns First Photos Of Pluto, Charon As It Nears Encounter
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft returned its first new images...
“Old Reliable” Delta II Orbits First Of A Kind Soil Moisture Mapping Spacecraft
Blazing a trail through a cloudy California morning, a...
Planetary Society Announces LightSail Spacecraft Test Flight
The Planetary Society today announced the first of its...
Photo Gallery: Atlas V-551 Launches The Navy’s MUOS-3 Satellite
Comments What do you think?
SpaceX And US Air Force Agree To Settle Lawsuit
Just days after entering judge-ordered mediation, SpaceX and the...
First Full-Scale SLS Booster Installed On Stand For March Static Test
NASA and ATK have completed installing the first Space...
NASA Completes Investigation of 2014 Sounding Rocket Failure
January 12, 2015 – An investigation team has determined...
Atlas V Successfully Launches Navy’s “Orbital Cell Tower”
Marking the 200th launch for the venerable Atlas-Centaur family...
Photo Feature: Five Rockets Are On The Pad In Alaska
January 20, 2015 – Five rockets are on the...
Five Sounding Rockets To Study Effect of Solar Wind On The Weather
January 13, 2015 – The interaction of solar winds...
RS-25 Main Engine Testing Resumes At Stennis After Five-Year Hiatus
The new year is off to a hot start...
Falcon 9 Launches Fifth Contracted SpaceX ISS Mission; Booster Recovery Test Fails
A Falcon 9 rocket blasted into space early this...
Technical Glitches, Orbital Mechanics Push Falcon 9 CRS-5 Launch Into 2015
The next launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket...
Amid Testing Trouble, Firm Launch Date Expected Today For Falcon 9 CRS-5
We should learn today whether or not SpaceX will...
X Marks the Spot: Falcon 9 To Attempt Ocean Platform Landing
(Source: SpaceX) During our next flight, SpaceX will attempt...
Powerful Atlas Launches Clandestine Satellite From California
The largest Atlas rocket to fly from California blasted...
Atlas To The Rescue, Orbital Selects ULA To Launch Cygnus To ISS In 2015
As the company continues to recover from October’s spectacular...
NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Completes “Picture Perfect” First Test Flight
Reaching a pinnacle in its nine-year development program, NASA’s...
Inferno Over Wallops! A first-hand Photo And Video Account Of Antares Launch Failure
Read the story with a full page of launch...
NASA’s Morpheus Lander Readies New Round Of Test Flights
NASA’s Morpheus experimental rocket-powered vertical takeoff and landing testbed...
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Crashes, One Pilot Reported Killed
We have received word that Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo failed...
Antares Explodes, ISS Cargo Lost In Launch Failure
Launch of the Cygnus spacecraft was supposed to be...
Atlas V Racks Up 50th Success With Launch of GPS IIF-8 For U.S. Air Force
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully...
Hurricane Gonzalo Delays NASA’s Latest Cargo Run To ISS
Already delayed several times, the launch of an Orbital...
Photo Feature: Melbourne Air & Space Show
“We are thrilled by the turnout on Saturday for...
JPL Selects CubeSat Proposals for Europa Clipper Mission Study
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has chosen...
Looking To The Future, Delta IV Rocket For Orion First Flight Reaches The Launch Pad
A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket stands...
India, U.S. To Collaborate On Earth Obsevation, Mars Missions
In a meeting Tuesday in Toronto, NASA Administrator Charles...
Sierra Nevada Targets Air-Launch With Stratolaunch Partnership
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) today announced a design for...
ATK Test Fires Igniter For Orion Launch Abort System Motor
NASA and ATK successfully completed a static test of...
Delta IV Processing Nearly Complete For Historic EFT-1 Mission
Engineers took another step forward in preparations for the...
Sierra Nevada Files Protest Challenging NASA Commercial Crew Awards To Boeing, SpaceX
(Editor’s Note: The following is a press release from...
Dragon Blasts Off With Science, Supplies On Fourth Space Station Cargo Run
Dodging persistent thunderstorms that have beseiged Florida most of...
NASA Opens Bidding For Second Round Of ISS Cargo Resupply Services
On the heels of awarding groundbreaking contracts to U.S....
United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin To Develop RD-180 Alternative
Facing pressure to find a domestic replacement for the...
SpaceX Breaks Ground For Texas Spaceport, With Just A Hint Of Politics
Gov. Rick Perry today helped break ground on the...
One More Leap, Boeing And SpaceX Win NASA’s Commercial Crew Contracts
U.S. astronauts once again will travel to and from...
NASA Rolls Out First Orion Spacecraft For December EFT-1 Test Flight
NASA is making steady progress on its Orion spacecraft,...
Falcon 9 Successfully Delivers AsiaSat 6 Comsat To Orbit
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket thundered into orbit during...
Acoustic Tests Help NASA Model SLS Launch Dynamics
Engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville,...
SLS Passes Milestone And Receives NASA Approval For Development
NASA officials Wednesday announced they have completed a rigorous...
SpaceX Falcon 9R Rocket Explodes During Texas Test Flight
SpaceX experienced a rare but disappointing failure today when...
Amazing Photo Captures Cygnus’ Flaming Re-Entry
ISS Expedition 40 crewmember Alexander Gerst captured this amazing...
Dramatic Video Shows Falcon First Stage Powered Descent After Launch
When SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket from...
On Its Way To A Fiery Re-Entry, Orbital’s Cygnus Departs ISS
Orbital Sciences Cygnus commercial cargo craft completed a month-long...
Atlas Rocket Orbits WorldView-3 Commercial Imaging Satellite
Continuing a very successful year for United Launch Alliance,...
ULA Names Tory Bruno President And CEO; Michael Gass Retires
United Launch Alliance named veteran aerospace industry executive Tory...
NASA Releases High-Definition Onboard Video From LDSD “Flying Saucer” Test
NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project successfully flew a...
NASA To Create First 3D-Printed Space Cameras
By the end of September, NASA aerospace engineer Jason...
Final European Automated Transfer Vehicle Blasts Off On Ariane 5 To Resupply ISS
The European Space Agency’s (ESA) fifth and final Automated...
Delta IV Dodges Weather To Launch GSSAT Spacecraft On Fifth Try
After nearly a week of frustrating technical and then...
Delta II Returns To Service To Launch NASA’s First Carbon Monitoring Spacecraft
Following a one-day delay to fix a balky water...
Success For NASA’s Experimental Supersonic “Flying Saucer”
NASA officials are calling today’s near-space test flight of...
2014 NASA Advanced Technology Phase I Concepts Selected For Study
NASA has selected 12 proposals for study under Phase...
Projects Selected For NASA’s 2015 X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge
NASA and the National Space Grant Foundation have selected...
Orion Stacking Operations Begin For December EFT-1 Launch
With just six months until its first trip to...
Engine Failure Investigation Slips Next Cygnus ISS Resupply Mission Into July
Orbital Sciences Corporation announced that it has updated its...
NASA Video Highlights Orion, SLS Development Progress
This is NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate quarterly update...
NASA Uses Laser To Beam “Hello, World!” Video From ISS
NASA successfully beamed a high-definition video 260 miles from...
NASA’s Final Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Report Released
With two companies now providing commercial cargo launch services...
Orion Receives Heat Shield For Late 2014 EFT-1 Test Flight
Lockheed Martin technicians and engineers attach the heat shield...
Photo Feature: Meet The SpaceX Dragon V2 Spacecraft
SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk unveiled the Dragon...
NASA Readies Futuristic “Flying Saucer” For Flight Over Hawaii
UPDATE: Due to weather conditions, there will be no...
SpaceX Unveils Next-Generation Manned Dragon Spacecraft
With just a bit of Hollywood-esque flash, SpaceX unveiled...
Atlas V Successfully Deploys Classified NROL-33 Satellite
While the battle between SpaceX and United Launch Alliance...
Photo Feature: The Powerful Atlas Rocket Ready To Launch NROL-33
  Comments What do you think?
Delta IV Launches Sixth Upgraded GPS Satellite
America’s newest Global Positioning System satellite is now in...
Orbital And ATK Announce Merger Continuing Industry Consolidation
Orbital Sciences Corporation today announced that it has entered...
New Spacecraft Will Become First U.S. Space Lifeboat in 40 Years
The next generation of American spacecraft designed to carry...
NASA Partnerships Launch Multi-User Spaceport
Teamed with its industry partners, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center...
NASA Outlines Future Path To Human Mars Exploration
I will join 11 senior NASA officials in a...
Dragon Begins Third ISS Resupply Mission; First Stage Recovery Test Success
  A GoPro Captures Launch Of A SpaceX Falcon...
Atlas V Successfully Deploys Classified NROL-67 Satellite
. United Launch Alliance successfully launched the second mission...
Morpheus Completes First Test Of Hazard Avoidance System
The Morpheus team successfully completed Free Flight 10 (FF10)...
NASA’s LRO Mission and North America to Experience Total Lunar Eclipse
When people in North America look up at the...
Orion Avionics System Ready For Exploration Flight Test-1
Testing of the Orion spacecraft’s avionics system has concluded...
Space Launch System Core Stage Model ‘Sounds’ Off for Testing
A 5-percent scale model of the Space Launch System...
NASA Selects New Suborbital Technology Payloads
NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program has selected 13 space technology...
Air Force Weather Satellite Successfully Deployed On ULA’s 80th Launch
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully...
Soyuz Blasts Off To Orbit Europe’s Sentinel-1A Earth Oservation Satellite
Continuing their track record for delivering both commercial and...
Air Force Releases Details Of Incident That Scrubbed Atlas And Falcon Launches
In the wake of serious outage on the U.S....
Orion Integration Makes Progress Toward Late-Year EFT-1 Mission
Orion is marching ever closer to its first trip...
Atlas 5 Rocket Launches To Successfully Deploy NASA’s Newest TDRS Satellite
A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket thundered into...
Dragon Passes Another Milestone With Sucessful Parachute Drop Test Over Pacific Ocean
Engineers and safety specialists from NASA and Space Exploration...
NASA’s Morpheus Lander Soars Over Kennedy Space Center As Tests Continue
NASA’s Morpheus lander testbed resumed testing following a break...
2013 NASA Safety Report Highlights Funding Uncertainty, Commercial Crew Progress
The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), an advisory committee...
NASA, Commercial Crew Partners Look To Make Strides In 2014
Several companies, working closely with NASA, ended 2013 with...
Space Launch System Could Enable Transformational Missions, Scientists Say
The human spaceflight community joined the space science community...
NASA Administrator Visits Michoud, Tours SLS Facilities
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Monday visited the agency’s Michoud...
Florida Schools Send Experiments To ISS On Board Orbital’s Cygnus
When Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Cygnus cargo ship arrived at...
Cygnus Arrives At ISS With Supplies, Experiments
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station Sunday used a...
Virgin Galactic Reaches New Heights in Third Supersonic Test Flight‏
Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline, which is...
SpaceX Manifest Grows With JCSAT 14 Launch Contract
Fresh off its second successful launch of a commercial...
NASA, White House Discuss ISS Life Extension At International Space Exploration Forum
Speaking at a global space exploration forum Thursday, John...
NASA Powers Up SLS Avionics For The First Time
The modern avionics system that will guide NASA’s Space...
Antares Blasts Off With Cygnus On First Contracted ISS Resupply Mission
Marking the beginning of regular supply runs to the...
Antares Set For Chilly Launch To Space Station
1/8/14 7:00 am EST UPDATE: Early this morning the...
SpaceX Rings In The New Year With Launch Of Thai Satellite
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape...
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Poised For First Launch Of New Year
Looking to start 2014 with a roar, SpaceX is...
Photo Feature: NASA Readies TDRS-L Spacecraft For Late January Launch
NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS)-L was the...
Boeing Announces Expansion Of X-37B Operations At Kennedy Space Center
In what could be a boon for the aerospace...
SpaceX Delays Falcon 9 Launch Of Thaicom 6, Remains Confident Of January Liftoff
Bird-watchers on the beaches of Cape Canaveral will have...
NASA’s Resurrected Infrared Telescope Captures First Images, Prepares To Hunt Asteroids
NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), a...
NASA’s Next Mars Lander Gets A Launch Vehicle
NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC of Centennial,...
Dreamchaser Completes NASA Commercial Crew Milestones
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) today announced that the company...
Aerojet Rocketdyne Completes Launch Abort Engine Testing for Boeing CST-100 Spacecraft
Aerojet Rocketdyne announced today that it completed development testing...
Balky Station Cooling Pump Creates Delay, Uncertainty For Cygnus Resupply Mission
NASA and Orbital Sciences Corp. Saturday moved the targeted...
SpaceX Gains Advantage Over Blue Origin In Fight For Former Shuttle Launch Pad
Government Accountability Office denies Blue Origin’s protest over fairness...
Cygnus Joins Antares For Second Space Station Supply Run
On December 10, Orbital Sciences Corporation’s operations team mated...
NASA’s Juno Photographs Spectacular Views Of Earth And Moon During Flyby
When NASA’s Juno spacecraft flew past Earth on Oct....
NASA’s Morpheus Lander Returns To Flight At Kennedy Space Center
Rebuilt and better than ever, NASA’s Morpheus prototype lander...
Proton Notches Another Success With Launch Of Inmarsat-5 F1
An International Launch Services (ILS) Proton Breeze M successfully...
Atlas V Lofts Top-Secret Satellite, 12 CubeSats For NASA And Education
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying a...
SpaceX Reaches Milestone With Falcon 9 Launch Of Commercial Satellite
Making its commercial debut, an upgraded Falcon 9 rocket...
Blue Origin Test-Fires New BE-3 Rocket Engine
NASA commercial crew partner Blue Origin of Kent, Wash.,...
China Successfully Launches First Lunar Lander Chang’e 3
A Long March 3B rocket blasted off from the...
SpaceX Targets Thanksgiving For Inaugural Falcon 9 GTO Mission
SpaceX is hoping for a special Thanksgiving after the...
NASA’s MAVEN Rockets To Explore Mysteries Of Mars Atmosphere
 With a thunderous roar, NASA’s Mars Atmoshere and Volatile...
Today In History, November 10, 1964 – KSC Mercury Monument Dedication
The Mercury Monument stands outside of Complex 14 was...
Dream Chaser And Role Of The Media On Public Perception Of Failure
Last week, Sierra Nevada conducted the first free-flight test...
Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser Suffers Setback During First Free Flight Test
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) suffered an apparent setback of...
Proton Rocket Successfully Launches FM-6 Satellite For Sirius XM Radio
International Launch Services (ILS), a leader in providing mission...
This LADEE Wasn’t Just Eating Bon Bon’s During The Government Shutdown
During the NASA shutdown, the LADEE mission continued to...
Proton Set To Launch Comsat For Sirius XM After 24-Hour Delay
The launch of a Proton launch vehicle with the...
Dramatic Video Captures Grasshopper’s Highest Jump To Date
On Monday, October 7th, Grasshopper completed its highest leap...
The View From Here: Curiosity Looks Back At Home
The HiRISE instrument would make a great backyard telescope...
SpaceX Releases New Photos And Video Of Next-Gen Falcon 9 Demo
SpaceX released stunning new photos and video from the...
MAVEN Granted Reprieve, Preparations Resume For November Launch
The cloud of pessimism over NASA because of funding...
Second-Generation Falcon Takes Flight To Test New Engines, Recoverability
Equipped with upgraded engines, computer systems and greatly improved...
Curiosity Fails To Find Methane And Adds To The Mystery Of Life On Mars
Data from NASA’s Curiosity rover has revealed the Martian...
Historic Comet Hunting Mission Ends As Deep Impact Falls Silent
After almost 9 years in space that included an...
Orbital’s Antares Blasts Off On First Cygnus Mission To ISS
Marking a giant stride forward in NASA’s plans to...
On Its 40th Mission, Atlas Deploys Third Advanced Extremely High Frequency Satellite
Dodging rain and high winds, an Atlas V rocket...
Moon Express’ Guidance Software Flies NASA’s Mighty Eagle On A Successful Test
The Mighty Eagle, a NASA robotic prototype lander managed...
To Boldly Go… Voyager 1 Reaches For The Stars
There was a time over a generation ago when...
NASA’s Lunar Dust Explorer Blasts Off From Virginia Spaceport
UPDATE: NASA has confirmed that the reaction wheels of...
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Conducts Second Powered Test Flight
Suborbital passenger spaceflight pioneer Virgin Galactic passed another major...
NASA Narrows List Of Potential Sites For Next Mars Lander
NASA has narrowed to four the number of potential...
STS-3 Space Shuttle Columbia Photo And Video Collection
Former NASA astronaut Gordon Fullerton passed away this week....
It’s Been 20 Years Since The First Flight Of DC-X
It’s been 20 years since the remarkable DC-X Delta...
NASA Prepares LADEE for First Virginia Coast Launch to Moon
In an attempt to answer prevailing questions about our...
Sierra Nevada Makes Second Successful Dream Chaser Captive-Carry Test Flight
NASA partner Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) of Louisville, Colo.,...
NASA Releases New Graphic and Video Depictions of Asteroid Mission
NASA released Thursday new photos and video animations depicting...
NASA Astronaut Candidate Class Of 2013 Introduced To The Public
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Tuesday formally welcomed the...
NASA Wallops Launch Facility To Host A Moon Mission Celebration August 21
The upcoming moon mission at the NASA Wallops Flight...
NASA Seeks Users For Shuttle Era Launch Structures
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is seeking concepts...
NASA Selects Technology Demonstration Projects for Suborbital Research Flights
NASA has selected for possible flight demonstration 10 proposals...
NASA Commercial Crew Partner SpaceX Completes Orbit and Entry Review
NASA Commercial Crew Program (CCP) partner Space Exploration Technologies...
NASA Adds Milestones To Commercial Crew Initiative, Funds SpaceX, Sierra Nevada
NASA announced Thursday it is adding some additional milestones...
NASA Launches Suborbital RockSat-X Mission With Student Payloads
A Terrier-Improved Malemute suborbital rocket carrying experiments developed by...
Delta IV Rocket Successfully Launches Sixth Wideband Global Satcom Military Satellite
Blazing through the evening skies over Florida, a United...
Japanese Resupply Craft HTV-4 Is Captured And Berthed To ISS
The fourth Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency H-II Transfer Vehicle,...
Progress 52 Resupply Ship Docks With ISS
The ISS Progress 52 resupply ship docked with the...
ULA Completes Five Major Milestones In Just Eight Days, Including One Launch
During the last eight days, the United Launch Alliance...
One Special Day in the Life of Planet Earth Shining Brightly In The Black Void
Color and black-and-white images of Earth taken by two...
Atlas V 551 Launches Its Heaviest Payload Yet, MUOS-2 For The U.S. Navy
Rattling windows as it pierced cloudy skies above Cape...
Photo/Video Feature: 38 Years Ago, The Mission Of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
The first international partnership in space wasn’t the International...
Eastern Range (ER) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) Spaceport Concept
Introduction:  This concept explores the Eastern Range (ER) and...
Stephen Hawking – “Why Go To Space?” – NASA 50th Anniversary Lecture
MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Welcome to the  campus of George...
Watch Out NASA, The Next Mission To The Moon Might Not Be Yours
In 1959, the author Martin Caidin (“Marooned”) wrote, “The...
Space Shuttle Atlantis Grand Opening
NASA’s retired space shuttle Atlantis, the last orbiter to...
NASA Announces New Grand Challenge Aimed At Finding Asteroids
WASHINGTON, DC – NASA announced Tuesday a Grand Challenge...
Educational CubeSat Demonstrations Take To The Skies Aboard Prospector Rocket
Four tiny spacecraft soared over the California desert June...
NASA’s Space Launch System (Finally) Enters Preliminary Design Review
NASA is beginning a preliminary design review for its...
Mars As You’ve Never Seen It Before In A BILLION Pixels!
PASADENA, CA. – A billion-pixel view from the surface...
NASA Commercial Crew Partner Boeing Completes New Spacecraft, Rocket Milestones
HOUSTON, TX – The Boeing Company of Houston, a...
Another American High Frontier First: 3-D Manufacturing In Space
WASHINGTON, DC – In preparation for a future where...
Data From NASA Rover’s Voyage to Mars Aids Planning
PASADENA, CA – Measurements taken by NASA’s Mars Science...
NASA’s GRAIL Mission Solves Mystery of Moon’s Surface Gravity
PASADENA, CA – NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory...
Pebbly Rocks Testify to Old Streambed on Mars
PASADENA, CA – Detailed analysis and review have borne...
NASA Radar Reveals Asteroid Has Its Own Moon
PASADENA, CA – A sequence of radar images of...
Cassini Finds Hints of Activity at Saturn Moon Dione
PASADENA, CA – From a distance, most of the...
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July 7, 2013
Stephen Hawking – “Why Go To Space?” – NASA 50th Anniversary Lecture


MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Welcome to the  campus of George Washington University in downtown  Washington, D.C., for what promises to be a very remarkable  afternoon.

My name is John Logsdon. I am the director of  the Space Policy Institute here at GW’s Elliott School of  International Affairs. We are a very happy co-host, along  with Lockheed Martin and NASA, of this afternoon’s lecture  by Professor Stephen and Lucy Hawking, which promises to be  something that will be special. Professor Hawking has  prepared a brand-new lecture. This is his first showing or  talking this afternoon, and I think that is remarkable

My job is to quickly get out of the way by  introducing for a formal welcome, the sixteenth president  of George Washington University, Dr. Steven Knapp.

Dr. Knapp.

[Applause.]

DR. KNAPP: Thank you very much, Professor  Logsdon. On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the  faculty of the George Washington University, it is a  pleasure to welcome you all this afternoon to the third

lecture in a series celebrating the 50th Anniversary of  NASA.

I would like to thank the event’s sponsors,  Lockheed Martin and NASA, for choosing George Washington  University as a venue for this important event, and I would  particularly like to acknowledge the presence here of Shana  Dale who is the Deputy Administrator of NASA who is here  with us today. It is a pleasure to be sitting here also  with Lucy Hawking in the front of the theater.

Time does not permit me to acknowledge all the  distinguished members of today’s audience, but you are all  welcome for what I know will be a very exciting and  stimulating lecture.

GW has worked closely with NASA for most of the  agency’s existence. NASA’s second Administrator, in fact,  James E. Webb, studied law at GW in the 1930s and was a  member of the GS Board of Trustees from 1951 to 1963. As  NASA Administrator, Webb in 1964 asked GW to turn its  attention to the policy implications of the U.S. space  program, and for the more than 40 years since then, GW has  made space policy a focus of its research and its graduate  education efforts.

We established the Space Policy Institute in 1987  as part of the Elliot School of International Affairs, and  that institute has become the leading center of space  policy studies in the world. Much of the institute’s  research and outreach activities has been supported by NASA  grants and contracts, and we appreciate NASA’s confidence  in the quality of the Space Policy Institute’s work. We  also appreciate the continuing support that Lockheed Martin  has provided to the Space Policy Institute from its very  inception.

The institute’s focus on space policy is typical  of the innovative character of GW’s Elliott School of  International Affairs, one of the nation’s leading schools  of international affairs. The Elliott School seeks to  create knowledge, share wisdom, and inspire action to  address global challenges.

My role is not to introduce Professor Hawking.  That honor falls to Ambassador Richard M. Russell,  Associate Director of the Office of Science and Technology  Policy in the Executive Office of the President. I will  note only that Professor Hawking’s pioneering mind is one  of the greatest of our era and that he has combined

profound insights into the nature of the universe with an  admiral commitment to making those insights available to  the general public. It is a privilege, as well as an  honor, to have him on our campus.

It is now my pleasure to introduce Ambassador  Russell who serves both as Associate Director of the OSTP  and as Deputy Director for Technology. Mr. Russell was  nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate in  August 2002. He served as President Bush’s Ambassador to  the 2007 World Radiocommunication Conference.

He first joined OSTP as chief of staff in 2001,  following a decade of service on Capitol Hill where he  worked on science and technology issues in both houses of  Congress.

Ambassador Russell.

[Applause.]

AMBASSADOR RUSSELL: Thank you, Dr. Knapp.

It is truly an honor and a pleasure to introduce  the speakers for the third in the series of NASA lectures  that celebrates NASA’s 50th Anniversary year. These  lectures are a unique opportunity for prominent leaders to  address matters of global interest in the areas of space,

exploration, scientific discovery, aeronautics, research to  audiences of key policy-makers, corporate leaders,  academics, and the public sector.

I would also like to acknowledge Shana Dale, the  Deputy Administrator of NASA, for establishing this series,  and it really is going to be a treat this afternoon to  listen to Professor Hawking and Lucy Hawking.

Today, we have a unique father-daughter pair with  us. Not much needs to be said about Professor Stephen  Hawking who is one of the world’s foremost cosmologists and  astrophysicists.

Since 1979, he has been the Lucasian Professor of  Mathematics at Cambridge University, a seat once held by  Sir Isaac Newton.

I am actually a stand-in for the President’s  Science Advisor, Dr. John Marburger, who unfortunately has  the flu today, but he wanted me to recount a story to you  about how important Professor Hawking’s work is in terms of  being able to translate science into something that is  understandable for the public.

Dr. Marburger used to be the head of the

Brookhaven National Laboratory, and while he was there, he

attempted to start up the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider,  also known as RHIC. That caused a lawsuit. There was a  claim that if RHIC was turned on, we would create a black  hole and it would eat the world.

[Laughter.]

AMBASSADOR RUSSELL: Now, that may sound funny,  but unfortunately, the public actually believed that a  black hole might be created, and Professor and, at that  point director of the National Laboratory, Marburger turned  to Professor Hawking and asked for advice and asked for him  to give advice to the press. And it is because of his  advice that we should not worry about being consumed by a  black hole if the collider was turned on, that it allowed  Brookhaven to move forward wi th the collider.

So Dr. Marburger wanted to both express his  sadness at not being here today but also his pleasure and  thanks for the wonderful work that Professor Hawking has  done not only in terms of an understanding of physics but  also in terms of being able to relate to the general public  directly and move science forward.

Professor Hawking’s lecture, which is titled “Why  We Should Go Into Space,” was written especially for this

event, and he considers it a 50th birthday present for  NASA, and quite a birthday present I am sure it will be.

His daughter Lucy is a journalist and author.  Lucy and her father have co-authored a book for children  called “George’s Secret Key to the Universe,” which was  published in October, and there is a second book on the  way.

Professor Hawking will initially speak for a few  minutes, followed by Lucy, and then Professor Hawking will  complete his lecture.

With that, I would like to introduce and welcome  Professor Hawking and Lucy. Thank you all so much.

[Applause.]

DR. HAWKING: Why we should go into space. What  is that justification for spending all that effort and  money on getting a few lumps of moon rock? Aren’t there  better causes here on Earth?

In a way, the situation was like that in Europe  before 1492. People might well have argued that it was a  waste of money to send Columbus on a wild goose chase.  Yet, the discovery of the new world made a profound  difference to the old. Just think, we wouldn’t have had a

Big Mac or a KFC.

[Laughter.]

DR. HAWKING: Spreading out into space will have  an even greater effect. It will completely change the  future of the human race and maybe determine whether we  have any future at all.

It won’t solve any of our immediate problems on  Planet Earth, but it will give us a new perspective on them  and cause us to look outwards and inwards. Hopefully, it  would unite us to face a common challenge.

This would be a long-term strategy, and by long  term, I mean hundreds or even thousands of years. We could  have a base on the Moon within 30 years or reach Mars in 50  years and explore the moons of the outer planets in 200  years. By “reach,” I mean with man or, should I say,  person space flight.

We have already driven Rover and landed a probe  on Titan, a moon of Saturn, but if one is considering the  future of the human race, we have to go there ourselves.

Going into space won’t be cheap, but it will take  only a small proportion of world resources. NASA’s budget  has remained roughly constant in real terms since the time

of the Apollo landings, but it has decreased from .3  percent of U.S. GDP in 1970 to .12 percent now.

Even if we were to increase the international  budget 20 times to make a serious effort to go into space,  it would only be a small fraction of world GDP.

There will be those who argue that it would be  better to spend our money solving the problems of this  planet, like climate change and pollution, rather than  wasting it on a possibly fruitless search for a new planet.

I am not denying the importance of fighting climate change  and global warming, but we can do that and still spare a  quarter of a percent of world GDP for space. Isn’t our  future worth a quarter of percent?

We thought space was worth a big effort in the  ’60s. In 1962, President Kennedy committed the U.S. to  landing a man on the Moon by the end of the decade. This  was achieved just in time by the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.

The space race helped to create a fascination with science  and led to great advances in technology, including the  first large-scale integrated circuits which are the basis  of all modern computers.

However, after the last Moon landing in 1972,

with no future plans for further manned space flight,  public interest in space declined. This went along with a  general dissention with science in the West because,  although it had brought great benefits, it had not solved  the social problems that increasingly occupied public  attention.

A new manned space flight program would do a lot  to restore public enthusiasm for space and for science  generally.

Robotic missions are much cheaper and may provide  more scientific information, but they don’t catch the  public imagination in the same way, and they don’t spread  the human race into space which I am arguing should be our  long-term strategy.

A goal of a base on the Moon by 2020 and of a man  landing on Mars by 2025 would reignite a space program and  give it a sense of purpose in the same way that President  Kennedy’s Moon target did in the 1960s.

A new interest in space would also increase the  public standing of science generally. The low esteem in  which science and scientists are held is having serious  consequences. We live in a society that is increasingly

governed by science and technology, yet fewer and fewer  young people long to go into science.

As a small step towards hearing this, my daughter  Lucy and I have written a children’s book. I will now let  Lucy talk about how to encourage the next generation to  take an interest in space and in science generally.

MS. HAWKING: Hello, and good afternoon. I am  very, very honored to be here at the NASA 50th Birthday  Lecture Series. It is a great honor to be here talking to  you.

You have heard my father telling you about why we  need to travel into space. Well, I would like to take just  a few minutes to tell you why we think we need to have a  next generation who wants to travel into space as well.

As my father said, at the moment, we face a  paradox. Never before has science and technology played  such a big part in our lives, and yet at the same time, it  seems that children are turning away from science. They  are losing interest in science, and they are not studying  it.

So I would like to talk a bit about what we  learned from children, what we learned about children in

science education, and how NASA makes a great contribution  to ensuring that the next generation does engage with  science.

Last year, my dad and I published a book for  kids. It is an adventure story in which all the adventures  are based on real science. It is about a little boy who  lives next door to a scientist, and this scientist has an  amazing computer called Cosmos. Cosmos is so powerful and  so intelligent, he can draw a doorway to which you can walk  to any part of the whole universe that you want to visit.

Now, when I talked to people at NASA about  Cosmos, the fictional computer, they said, “Oh, I wish we  had one of them because that would help our budget  enormously.”

[Laughter.]

MS. HAWKING: Now my father wants to work on this  project because of his high level of concern about children  and science education.

That is not saying that we set out to persuade  every child to be a scientist because our world needs  people with a wide variety of skills, but science affects  all of us, and it matters to all of us. And it will do

even more so in the future.

The children of today are the adults of tomorrow,  and they need to have a basic understanding of science if  they are going to make the kind of decisions that will  affect us all, and we are going to need scientists as well,  not just to work on space travel but to work on issues that  face us all, like climate change or fuel sources of food  production.

Now, some recent research has highlighted the  fears about children and science education. In the United  Kingdom, a recent survey found that a third of U.K. school  children believe that wartime Prime Minister Winston  Churchill was the first man to walk on the Moon.

[Laughter.]

MS. HAWKING: I’m sorry about that, NASA and Neil  Armstrong.

And the statistics that came with this survey are  not very heartening either. They found that 40 percent of  children thought Mars was a chocolate bar, 35 percent of  children said the Earth was not an official planet, and  extraordinarily, 72 percent could not identify the Moon  from pictures.

Now, just in case you are sitting there feeling  smug, I am afraid the results in the USA are really not  looking much better. Only 4 percent of U.S. adults when  asked could name a living scientist who they would nominate  as a science role model, although at the same time, 96  percent, a stunning 96 percent of U.S. adults think that it  is important for the U.S. to be a leader in science  education.

So it all sounds rather gloomy, but there is  hope, as I found out when I went on a worldwide school’s  lecture tour with a talk, surfing the solar system. It is  about the sort of concepts of astronomy and theoretical  physics that we set out to cover in our book.

I have probably spoken, and we estimate, to about  20,000 kids worldwide, and what I discovered was an  enormous appetite and enthusiasm for science, and there are  so many questions that we have to write another book in  order to be able to answer them. And they are great  questions like can you skateboard on Jupiter, and my  personal favorite is what does happen if you get to the  edge of the universe.

Now, you could say that we are just lucky, that

we have got the science at our disposal, and without a  doubt, I can tell you that black holes presented by Stephen  Hawking explained simply for kids is a winner. We have  them. We had them with us all the way.

But more seriously, some research at universities  in the U.K. shows that a significant percentage of students  studying sciences — and I mean across the board, this  isn’t just physics — report that their interest in science  was sparked by exactly these topics. They went on to  become scientists because of an early interest in astronomy  and the exotic phenomena of theoretical physics, but space  has the power to capture children’s imagination and engage  their curiosity. There seems absolutely no doubt, and we  have never needed to do this more urgently.

Of course, it is not just what we say to kids.  It is what we show them. The images sent back by NASA’s  Hubble play such a huge part in capturing kids’ attention  in an ever increasingly crowded world with many, many  demands on them. This means we can show kids something of  the cosmic environment that surrounds them, from Saturn’s  rings to getting them to think about what would it be like  to see a sunset on Mars.

Now, manned space flight is a topic which kids  never tire of, and because of NASA, they can read about it,  they can hear about it, watch documentaries, look at  photographs, and visit space centers. NASA runs a huge  number of educational programs both in and outside schools.

This means that kids’ space dreams aren’t limited  to science fiction, and with exciting new missions planned  back to the Moon and onwards to Mars, it means that there  may be kids now who will grow up wanting to be astronauts,  as excited about it as a whole generation of astronauts  today are, the ones who watched the Apollo Moon landings in  their pajamas with their parents and decided they were  going to grow up to be an astronaut, and that is certainly  an awful lot more aspirational than wanting to grow up to  appear on a reality TV show or become a pop star.

Because of NASA, we can also show kids what our  planet, what the Earth looks like from space. They can see  what a beautiful planet we live on, but how vulnerable it  is, how fragile it is, and we can really make it clear to  them that they need to look after it.

When we look around us in space, we see all sorts  of other fascinating, extraordinary, exciting worlds, but

we don’t see another planet nearby exactly like the Earth,  and that is a very strong message to kids to say, “You live  on a beautiful planet after. You need to look after it.”

So we are not saying that all children need to  grow up and go into space, but we are saying that the work  done by NASA has a profound and lasting impact on the way  that children view their life on Earth, their cosmic  environment. It can influence the choices they make in the  future and their careers.

I would like to close with a fan letter we had  from Ben, age 6. His mother had told us he wasn’t a  confident child, but that he loved reading about space so  much that it has changed his life. He wrote to us to say,  “Now that I know I am good at space, I have decided to  become a scientist when I grow up.”

Thank you. Thank you for listening.

[Applause.]

DR. HAWKING: What will we find when we go into  space? Is there alien life out there, or are we alone in  the universe?

We believe that life arose spontaneously on the  Earth. So it must be possible for life to appear on other

suitable planets, of which there seem to be a large number  in the galaxy.

But we don’t know how life first appeared. The  probability of something as complicated as a DNA molecule  being formed by random collisions of atoms in ocean is  incredibly small. However, there might have been some  simpler macro molecule which can build up the DNA or some  other macro molecule capable of reproducing itself. Still,  even if the probability of life appearing on a suitable  planet is very small, since the universe is infinite, life  would have appeared somewhere. If the probability is very  low, the distance between two independent occurrences of  life would be very large.

However, there is a possibility known as  panspermia that life could spread from planet to planet or  from stellar system to stellar system carried on meteors.  We know that Earth has been hit by meteors that came from  Mars, and others may have come from further afield. We  have no evidence that any meteors carried life, but it  remains a possibility.

An important feature of life spread by panspermia  is that it would have the same basis which would be DNA for

life in the neighborhood of the Earth.

On the other hand, an independent occurrence of  life would be extremely unlikely to be DNA based. So watch  out if you meet an alien. You could be infected with a  disease against which you have no resistance.

One piece of observational evidence on the  probability of life appearing is that we have fossils from

3.5 billion years ago. The Earth was formed 4.6 billion  years ago and was probably too hot for about the first half  billion years. So life appeared on Earth within  half-a-billion years of it being possible, which is short  compared to the 10-billion-year lifetime of an Earth-like  planet.

This would suggest either panspermia or that the  probability of life appearing independently is reasonably  high. If it was very low, one would have expected it to  take most of the 10 billion years available. If it is  panspermia, any life in the solar system or in nearby  stellar systems will also be DNA based.

While there may be primitive life in another  region of the galaxy, there don’t seem to be any advanced  intelligent beings. We don’t appear to have been visited

by aliens. I am discounting reports of UFOs. Why would

they appear only to cranks and weirdos?

[Laughter.]

DR. HAWKING: If there is a government conspiracy  to suppress the reports and keep for itself the scientific  knowledge the aliens bring, it seems to have been a  singularly ineffective policy so far.

Furthermore, despite an extensive search by the  SETI project, we haven’t heard any alien television quiz  shows. This probably indicates that there are no alien  civilizations at our stage of development within the radius  of a few hundred lightyears. Issuing an insurance policy  against abduction by aliens seems a pretty safe bet.

Why haven’t we heard from anyone out there? One  view is expressed in this Calvin cartoon. The caption  reads: “Sometimes I think that the surest sign that  intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that  none of it has tried to contact us.”

More seriously, there could be three possible  explanations of why we haven’t heard from aliens. First,  it may be that the probability of primitive life appearing  on a suitable planet is very low.

Second, the probability of primitive life  appearing may be reasonably high, but the probability of  that life developing intelligence like ours may be very  low. Just because evolution led to intelligence in our  case, we shouldn’t assume that intelligence is an  inevitable consequence of Darwinian natural selection.

It is not clear that intelligence confers a  long-term survival advantage. Bacteria and insects will  survive quite happily even if our so-called intelligence  leads us to destroy ourselves.

This is the third possibility. Life appears and  in some cases develops into intelligent beings, but when it  reaches a stage of sending radio signals, it will also have  the technology to make nuclear bombs and other weapons of  mass destruction. It will, therefore, be in danger of  destroying itself before long.

Let’s hope this is not the reason we have not  heard from anyone. Personally, I favor the second  possibility that primitive life is relatively common, but  that intelligent life is very rare. Some would say it has  yet to occur on Earth.

[Laughter.]

DR. HAWKING: Can we exist for a long time away  from the Earth? Our experience with the ISS, the  International Space Station, shows that it is possible for  human beings to survive for many months away from Planet  Earth. However, the zero gravity aboard it causes a number  of undesirable physiological changes and weakening of the  bones, as well as creating practical problems with liquids,  et cetera.

One would, therefore, want any long-term base for  human beings to be on a planet or moon. By digging into  the surface, one would get thermal insulation and  protection from meteors and cosmic rays. The planet or  moon could also serve as a source of the raw materials that  would be needed if the extraterrestrial community was to be  self-sustaining independently of Earth.

What are the possible sites of a human colony in  the solar system? The most obvious is the Moon. It is  close by and relatively easy to reach. We have already  landed on it and driven across it in a buggy.

On the other hand, the Moon is small and without  atmosphere or a magnetic field to deflect the solar  radiation particles, like on Earth. There is no liquid

water, but there may be ice in the craters at the north and  south poles. A colony on the Moon could use this as a  source of oxygen with power provided by nuclear energy or  solar panels. The Moon could be a base for travel to the  rest of the solar system.

Mars is the obvious next target. It is half as  far, again, as the Earth from the Sun and so receives half  the warmth. It once had a magnetic field, but it decayed 4  billion years ago, leaving Mars without protection from  solar radiation. It stripped Mars of most of its  atmosphere, leaving it with only 1 percent of the pressure  of the Earth’s atmosphere.

However, the pressure must have been higher in  the past because we see what appear to be runoff channels  and dried-up lakes. Liquid water cannot exist on Mars now.

It would vaporize in the near-vacuum. This suggests that  Mars had a warm wet period during which life might have  appeared either spontaneously or through panspermia. There  is no sign of life on Mars now, but if we found evidence  that life had once existed, it would indicate that the  probability of life developing on a suitable planet was  fairly high.

NASA has sent a large number of spacecraft to  Mars, starting with Mariner 4 in 1964. It has surveyed the  planet with a number of orbiters, the latest being the Mars  Reconnaissance Orbiter. These orbiters have revealed deep  gullies and the highest mountains in the solar system.

NASA has also landed a number of probes on the  surface of Mars, most recently the two Mars Rovers. These  have sent back pictures of a dry desert landscape.  However, there is a large quantity of water in the form of  ice in the polar regions. A colony on Mars could use this  as a source of oxygen.

There has been volcanic activity on Mars. This  would have brought minerals and metals to the surface which  a colony could use.

The Moon and Mars are the most suitable sites for  space colonies in the solar system. Mercury and Venus are  too hot, while Jupiter and Saturn are gas giants with no  solid surface.

The moons of Mars are very small and have no  advantages over Mars itself.

Some of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn might be  possible. In particular, Titan, a moon of Saturn, is

larger and more massive than other moons and has a dense  atmosphere.

The Cassini-Huygens Mission of NASA and ESA has  landed a probe on Titan which has sent back pictures of the  surface. However, it is very cold, being so far from the  sun, and I wouldn’t fancy living next to a lake of liquid  methane.

What about beyond the solar system? Our  observations indicate that a significant fraction of stars  have planets around them. So far, we can detect only giant  planets like Jupiter and Saturn, but it is reasonable to  assume that they will be accompanied by smaller Earth-like  planets. Some of these will lay in the [inaudible] zone  where the distance from the stars is the right range for  liquid water to exist on their surface.

There are around a thousand stars within 30  lightyears of Earth. If 1 percent of each had Earth-size  planets in the [inaudible] zone, we would have 10 candidate  new worlds. We can revisit it with current technology, but  we should make interstellar a long-term aim. By long term,  I mean over the next 200 to 500 years. The human race has  existed as a separate species for about 2 million years.

Civilization began about 10,000 years ago, and the rate of  development has been steadily increasing.

If the human race is to continue for another  million years, we will have to boldly go where no one has  gone before.

Thank you for listening.

[Standing ovation.]

MODERATOR: Thank you, Professor Hawking, for  that series of insights and a challenge to us all.

I believe now for those of you who wanted to do  flash photography, it would be okay for a few moments, and  I invite you all to head upstairs for a very nice  reception, courtesy of our sponsor, Lockheed Martin.

Thank you all.

[Applause.]

DR. HAWKING: Thank you for listening.

NASA OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS   WASHINGTON, D.C.

NASA’s 50th Anniversary Lecture Series

“Why We Should Go Into Space”

Keynote Speakers:   STEPHEN HAWKING, Professor,  University of Cambridge   LUCY HAWKING, Journalist and Novelist

Moderated by JOHN LOGSDON, Director,  Space Policy Institute,  Elliott School of International Affairs,  George Washington University

Also Present:   STEVEN KNAPP, President, George Washington University  RICHARD M. RUSSELL, Associate Director,  Office of Science and Technology,  Executive Office of the President   SHANA DALE, Deputy Administrator, NASA

3:00 p.m., EDT  Monday, April 21, 2008

Morton Auditorium  George Washington University   Washington, D.C.

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