Stephen Hawking says it could be possible one day for humans to reach Mars in less than an hour.
The world-renowned physicist explained that the human race – much like Star Trek – has to “boldly go where no one has gone before” if it wants to continue on for another million years, he said on Sunday.
According to Prof Hawking, the world will become severely crowded by 2600, when power consumption could turn the planet into a sizzling fire ball.
But thanks to space migration, we could one day reach Mars in an hour and Pluto in days.
Prof Hawking told the Tencent WE Summit in Beijing: “The idea behind this innovation is to have the nanocraft ride on the light beam.
“Such a system could reach Mars in less than an hour, or reach Pluto in days, pass Voyager in under a week and reach Alpha Centauri in just over 20 years,” he continued.
Space migration could be made possible through initiatives like Breakthrough Starshot, a Hawking-backed attempt to reach Alpha Centauri – the closest star system outside of our own.
If the program succeeds, a nanocraft probe will be able to reach the nearest star to the Solar System within a single generation.
The camera-equipped miniature probes would be sent on their way by tens of gigawatts of focused power from an array of lasers.
Eventually, the probe will travel faster than any conventional rocket could and it will be accelerating at around 100 million miles an hour.
“Maybe if all goes well, sometime a little after the middle of the century, we’ll have our first picture of another planet that may be life-bearing orbiting the nearest star,” said Pete Worden, the project’s executive director and former director of NASA’s Ames Research Center.
Others supporting the project include include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and billionaire Yuri Milne.