I was very fortunate to be able to meet with Stephen Hawking and Buzz Aldrin over lunch at Hawking's temporary home in Pasadena this week. We got together to discuss views on the future of human space exploration -- a subject Hawking spoke about last year when he accepted the Planetary Society's Cosmos Award. Buzz Aldrin has been actively promoting a "unified vision" for international human space exploration, including a goal of getting humans to Mars in the 2030s.
Also present were Lucy Hawking, Stephen's daughter, who is writing children's book about space exploration and science, and Kip Thorne, Professor of Astrophysics at Caltech, Stephen's close scientific collaborator and host for his annual Caltech visit.
I was delighted to have the discussion briefly turn to the subject of interstellar flight (a subject I have been writing about lately). I discussed the long road ahead for practical interstellar flight, and Buzz reminded me that he has solved these difficulties in his science fiction books.
I was honored to discuss these visionary topics with such visionary people. We all hope to harness our enthusiasm to advance these ideas with the world's space agencies.