In a press release dated March 28, 2012, the National Space Society (NSS) announced Dr. Stephen Hawking was the fourteenth recipient of NSS’s Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award.
The NSS’s Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award (not affiliated with The Heinlein Prize Trust) is given in recognition of Dr. Hawking’s outstanding and continuing public efforts in support of human space development and settlement. The Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award is described by the NSS as honoring those individuals who have made significant, lifetime contributions to the creation of a free, spacefaring civilization; those individuals whose actions have involved personal, social, or financial risk are particularly meritorious.
The nature of the award, and the selection of Dr. Stephen Hawking as recipient, is in keeping with the goals and objectives of author Robert A. Heinlein™, and his wife, Virgina Heinlein, both advocates of a human future in space. In 1972, Mr. Heinlein said, “We are at a cusp, a decision point. We can decide to go one way, to the stars, and enjoy unlimited opportunities, unimagined possibilities, endless evolution, and eternal racial life. Or we can refuse the challenge, stay where we are—and die.” Dr. Hawking is described as having repeatedly and publicly advocated the need to move part of humanity off the Earth in order to avoid the destruction of the human race, either through self-destructive actions such as nuclear war, or natural phenomena such as asteroid collision or, eventually, the death of our nearest star, the Sun. “I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space,” says Hawking. “It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let’s hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load.”
The Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award was presented by Paul E. Damphousse, along with Board of Governors member and Heinlein Prize® Trust trustee, Arthur M. Dula.
About The National Space Society (NSS): NSS is an independent, educational, grassroots, non-profit organization dedicated to the creation of a spacefaring civilization. Founded when the National Space Institute and the L5 Society merged in 1987, NSS is widely acknowledged as the preeminent citizen’s voice on space. NSS has over 12,000 members and supporters, and over 50 chapters in the United States and around the world. The society publishes Ad Astra magazine, an award-winning periodical chronicling the most important developments in space. More information and original press release