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The Milky Way could be home to tens of billions of habitable planets of a similar size to the Earth which would have water and an atmosphere which could provide homes for the human race.  A report from the Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble says that there are 160 billi0n red dwarf stars and that forty percent of them may have Earth like planets orbiting in a habitable zone. Dr Xavier Bonfils and his team, writing in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics says “there are tens of billions of these planets in our galaxy alone”. Thank goodness – as we have pretty much destroyed this one. The only solution must be to engage in Star Trekking and its comforting to know that we have prioritised future Galaxy Quests above everything else and so far we have reached …….. the Moon. So lets get this right – we have reached the Moon ONLY, and the NASA manned moon programme has been scrapped. Oh, and then we had the Space Shuttle and that programme has been – oh, scrapped too!!!

So what are we left with? Well apart from the  International Space Station and unmanned NASA surveys of Mars and Saturn, The Sun and the Earth,  it seems that Virgin’s space tourism programme is about the limit of mankind’s ambition to go into space, with our new glorious leader Sir Richard Branson, boss of Virgin Galactic, saying “My dream is to make space accessible to tens of thousands of people“. The first 300 seats are already sold.

The only other glimmer of hope is that in September 2011, NASA announced the start of the Space Launch System programme to develop a human-rated heavy lift vehicle. The Space Launch System is intended to launch the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and other elements towards the Moon, near-Earth asteroids and one day Mars. The Orion MPCV is planned for an unmanned test launch around late 2013.

Glass spaceships with anti-magneto and gravity drives. That’s what we need. Honest.

More on NASA here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA

and on space tourism here http://www.nss.org/tourism/