TECH

Stephen Hawking Will Fly Into Space On Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic Spaceship

It's the world-famous physicist's 'ultimate ambition'.

20/03/2017 11:42 GMT | Updated 20/03/2017 11:45 GMT

Stephen Hawking has revealed he’s set to fulfil his “ultimate ambition” of travelling into space.

The world-famous physicist said billionaire businessman Richard Branson had offered him a seat on his Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain’s Piers Morgan, Hawking said: “I thought no one would take me [into space], but Richard Branson has offered me a seat on Virgin Galactic – and I said yes immediately.

“Since that day, I have never changed my mind.”

The Cambridge University professor, who has ALS, experienced weightlessness for the first time during a zero-gravity flight over the Atlantic in 2007.

It’s not yet clear when Virgin Galactic will launch commercial flights.

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

In a wide-ranging interview, Hawking spoke about Trump’s America, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership and the risks of AI.

He also expressed his excitement about the recent discovery of seven Earth-sized planets in a nearby solar system.

“The recently discovered system of seven Earth-sized planets is 39 light years away. With current technology there is no way we can travel that far. 

“The best we can envisage is robotic nanocraft pushed by giant lasers to 20% of the speed of light. These nanocraft weigh a few grams and would take about 240 years to reach their destination and send pictures back. It is feasible and is something that I am very excited about.”

Hawking has previously warned that if we fail to colonise another planet, humanity will be wiped out in the next 1,000 years. 

In an Oxford Union speech late last year, the physicist said we must continue to go into space for the sake of our own survival.

“I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet,” Hawking warned.