As the Late Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking indicated, humans must make dramatic progress in space exploration in the next 100 years if we are to survive. Couple this with J. Richard Gott III suggesting that a Martian colony must be developed by us humans within 46 years (this was suggested by him in 2007 so a target date would be 2053). Considering that NASA is under executive orders to have a manned mission to Mars by 2033 this would give around 20 years for a human colony to form on Mars. Although space telescopes have brought in impressive findings over the last twenty to thirty years, human spaceflight is a completely different matter as the last place that humans went to was the moon back in the 1960’s. War, political corruption, a dramatic reduction in funding towards space programs and other problems here on earth have resulted in stagnated progress in human spaceflight and exploration. The only notable achievement that consisted of human spaceflight in the last twenty years is perhaps the construction and maintenance of the International Space Station.
Most human accomplishments so far in the 21st century have been the result of the relentless determination of scientists, astronomers and amateur astronomers alike. The recent mapping of the Milky Way Galaxy is a notable achievement by the European Space Agency, however one must note that buildings telescopes and conducting studies and research is much cheaper than actual human space exploration and that governments around the world that have taken a frugal approach to funding space exploration would rather continue to see developments like this than actually invest the political capital (consisting of social, economic and technological means) that are necessary for the development of human spaceflight, specifically in regards to space exploration by professional astronaut’s. With progress in space exploration remaining relatively stagnant in the 21st century we may have made tremendous progress in space exploration in the 20th century as the Late Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking mentioned but the next 100 years remain more uncertain. All aspects of human civilization (political, economic and social) must remain committed to colonizing Mars sometime in the middle of this century. This is imperative to all humans, focusing on utopian worlds in entertainment will not get us there but rather a commitment to the Sciences (to develop future scientists and in greater numbers), the Arts (to develop the political leaders of tomorrow) and the research and development capabilities of military’s around the world (it is R&D that got us the internet after all, not war). Committing to increased funding and more accessible training in these fields are crucial in achieving Hawking’s vision of a civilization capable of spaceflight to distant stars.