Space travel

How humans may populate the universe in the billions of years ahead

I’m old enough to have viewed the grainy TV images of the first Moon landings by Apollo 11 in 1969. I can never look at the Moon without recalling Neil Armstrong’s ‘One small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind’. It seems even more heroic in retrospect, considering how they depended on primitive computing and untested equipment. Once the race to the Moon was won, there was no motivation for continuing with the space race and the gargantuan costs involved. No human since 1972 has travelled more than a few hundred miles from the Earth. Hundreds have ventured into space, but they have done no more than circle

Like Alan Bennett but less funny: ‘night, Mother at Hampstead Theatre reviewed

’night, Mother is a two-hander that opens like a comedy sketch. ‘I’m going to kill myself, Mama,’ says Jessie. She’s cleaning a pistol and loading it with bullets. ‘I’ll shoot myself in a couple of hours.’ The pair live together in a lonely farmhouse, and Jessie wants to make sure her mother will be able to cope after her death. She tours the kitchen explaining where the fuses and the cleaning materials are kept. Mama, who doesn’t seem unduly alarmed, offers to phone her son and get him to thwart the suicide attempt. ‘I’ll just have to do it before he gets here,’ says Jessie. This is an intensely dramatic

What Prince William gets wrong about space travel

Time was when ‘to boldly go where no man has gone before’ was not just a line from Star Trek. It was a national dream. Space exploration transcended political divisions. When Nasa pulled off the first moon landing, the world watched in awe. Last week, the Star Trek actor William Shatner was blasted into space on one of Jeff Bezos’s rockets. Yet there was no shared wonder. Instead, there was criticism. Scientists have more pressing problems to solve, argued detractors. In a rebuke to Bezos, who is pouring his fortune into space travel, Prince William told the BBC: ‘We need some of the world’s greatest brains… trying to repair the planet,

Branson vs Bezos: In praise of the billionaire space race

They are rich boys with some very expensive toys. As Richard Branson completes his first space flight, it would be easy to dismiss the race between the Virgin founder and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to be the first billionaire in space as the self-indulgence of a couple of tycoons with too much testosterone and too much money.  The competition will be seen by some on the liberal left as a symbol of widening inequalities. They will view it as the emergence of a plutocratic class separated from the rest of us, and as proof of the argument that space should be left to the public sphere. Of course there is an element of