"We must… continue to go into space for the future of humanity," he said. "I don't think we will survive another 1000 [years] without escaping beyond our fragile planet."
According to the world-renowned physicist, the survival of humanity is currently challenged by threats including global nuclear war, climate change and genetically engineered viruses.
"The number [of threats] is likely to increase in the future, with the development of new technologies, and new ways things can go wrong. Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time."
The only solution to impending doom is locating and migrating to new planets, Hawking said, as a way to avoid the destruction of humankind.
"We will not establish self-sustaining colonies in space for at least the next hundred years, so we have to be very careful in this period," he said.
And there are a plenty of choices as, since 2009, NASA has identified over 1,000 exoplanets believed to be similar to Earth by metrics including temperature and atmosphere. Another 3,000 exoplanets are called "planet candidates" and could be suitable for colonization.