HMM: 2010: A new space odyssey beckons: The world is on the verge of new manned exploration of the solar system – and, this time, environmentalists are backing it.

James Lovelock, inventor of the Gaia theory, said: “I strongly support space travel. The whole notion of Gaia came out of space travel. It seems to me any environmentalist who opposes space travel has no imagination whatever. That gorgeous, inspirational image of the globe that we are now so familiar with came out of space travel. That image has perhaps been of the greatest value to the environmental movement. It gave me a great impetus.

“There are the unmanned spacecraft, which are relatively inexpensive, that I certainly think should continue. The more we know about Mars, for example, the better we can understand our own planet. The second sort, the more personally adventurous sort of travel, offers great inspiration to humans. And, were it not for space travel we’d have no mobile phones, no internet, no weather forecasts of the sort we have now and so on. There’s a lot of puritanical silliness about it.”

Less puritanical silliness, please.