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Hawking: An Interstellar Space Mission Will Bring Benefits to People's Lives on Earth

How cute is that little guy?

Earlier today, Stephen Hawking and Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner announced a thrilling plan to deploy tiny “nanocrafts” to the second-closest star in search of intelligent life. And in the first post-announcement interview with ABC News, Hawking talks about how the development of interstellar spacecraft will improve life for humans.

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On “World News Tonight,” David Muir spoke with Hawking and Milner at One World Observatory, just after their press conference. Although Hawking pointed out that the chance of finding life in the nearest solar system was “unlikely,” it was more about developing the technology to get us there. “The rapid progress of space exploration has improved people’s lives in the past,” he said. “So it would not be surprising if it brought benefits.”

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Once launched, the $100 million initiative, named Breakthrough Starshot, could reach Alpha Centauri in 20 years, but it’s critical that the groundwork starts now, said Milner: “If we’re not going to achieve it in our lifetime, then we need to pass the baton to the next generation.”

Because this is Hawking, he tempers all of these intellectual thoughts with his signature zingers, including a dig at the Kardashians.

Watch the whole thing at ABC News.

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Alissa is the former urbanism editor at Gizmodo.

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DISCUSSION

It's tough to argue with Stephen, but...how? Interstellar, between-stars travel doesn't really lend itself to benefiting those left behind. Information can't travel faster than light, right?