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Hawking: Mankind has 1,000 years to escape Earth

 His gloomy forecast is people will become extinct on Earth within current the millennium.

Speaking at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles the 71-year-old scientist called for further exploration of space to guarantee the future of mankind, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

"We must continue to go into space for humanity. If you understand how the universe operates, you control it in a way," Professor Hawking said, adding that "we won't survive another 1,000 years without escaping our fragile planet."

Space exploration has however been struggling with the global financial crisis and has too proven subject to spending cuts. In particular NASA's planetary science budget, which is seen as crucial to finding habitable planets, was slashed by $300 million this year.

At the same time, the Mars race has not been abandoned.

On Monday NASA concluded from Curiosity Rover’s findings that the red planet is gradually turning cold after losing a large part of its original atmosphere.

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