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Clean Transport DARPA 100 Year Starship goes beyond moon colony

Published on January 28th, 2012 | by Tina Casey

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Forget the Moon Colony, Newt: DARPA Aims for 100 Year Starship

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January 28th, 2012 by  

DARPA 100 Year Starship goes beyond moon colonyPresidential candidate Mitt Romney had a chuckle over Newt Gingrich’s proposal to build a colony on the Moon during last Thursday’s debate in Florida, but before he really busts a gut laughing he may want to check out the 100 Year Starship. The new project kicked off last year under the auspices of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, with the aim of launching a manned space craft that will send Earth dwellers way past the moon, to a galaxy far, far away. Now go ahead, laugh at the Department of Defense. We dare you!

First Steps to Interstellar Travel

Last fall, DARPA hosted the 100 Year Starship Symposium with the aim of getting the public to start thinking seriously about interstellar travel, and to that end it issued an open invitation for papers. In its solicitation, DARPA outlined the kind of thinkers it is looking for:

“A century can fundamentally change our understanding of our universe and reality. Man’s desire to explore space and achieve the seemingly impossible is at the center of the 100 Year Starship Study Symposium. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and NASA Ames Research Center (serving as execution agent), are working together to convene thought leaders dealing with the practical and fantastic issues man needs to address to achieve interstellar flight one hundred years from now.”

A Leader for the 100 Year Starship

Earlier this month, according to an unconfirmed report on BBC, DARPA  offered leadership of the initial phase of the project, the 100 Year Starship Study, to Dr. Mae Jemison, a former astronaut and science education leader. After leaving NASA, Dr. Jemison went on to found the Jemison Foundation for Excellence and was instrumental in the development of the international youth science camp program The Earth We Share. Last summer’s “TEWS – Spacerace” program included challenges like designing a mission to the sun and answering the question, “What are we going to do for food on the way to Alpha Centuri?”

Next Steps for Interstellar Travel

Dr. Jemison chaired the 100 Year Starship Symposium’s Education, Social, Economic and Legal Considerations component, and her group was assigned to explore issues such as the education mission of the project, how the spacecraft crew would be selected, what kind of economic structure would operate in space, and other questions dealing with profit, politics, and “legacy investments” for a possible round-trip journey. In addition to addressing those questions, the 100 Year Starship Study will examine ways to foster the research needed to design, construct, launch and fly a spacecraft capable of interstellar travel, and to anticipate the social, political and cultural baggage that human beings would need to carry along for a trip of that sort.

A Business Model for Interstellar Travel

During last week’s debate, Romney dismissed the notion of a moon colony out of hand due to the enormous expense but DARPA has already taken that into account. A central goal of the 100 Year Starship Study is to explore “agile financial mechanisms to sustain innovation” and outline a business model for an organization that would be capable of carrying the project forward through several generations, hence the name “100 Year Starship.” As for Gingrich, his concept for a moon colony falls short in that regard. Apparently he envisions an exclusively American endeavor, but DARPA has already begun reaching out to international partners.

Image: Otherworlds1. License AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by fsgm.

Follow Tina Casey on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.

 

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About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • https://twitter.com/#!/TinaMCasey Tina Casey

    OMG this comment thread totally sucks! Step it up, guys!!!

  • Bob Gagnon

    Visualize the ship: built in space, rotating cylinder, personnel live on inside wall, size measured in KMs, self sustaining atmosphere & biologicals inside, food animals – chickens/goats/?, food plants – ?, atmosphere plants – ?, companion animals – small smart dogs, …….

  • http://www.vjmachiavelli.blogspot.com VJ Machiavelli

    Romney is a luddite and Newt is the President of the 21st Century.

    Go Newt Go

    To The Moon, Mars, and beyond

    Before there was the “Oracle at Delphi” there was Count Vampire J. Machiavelli

    VJ Machiavelli
    Power to the People who “VOTE”

    • Rugbynow1

      Your an idiot.

      • Anonymous

        Oh, I don’t know. Sending Newt to the Moon is an idea with some merit.

        We could even allow him to be President of the 21st Century. Give him a great big shiny badge to wear. (Just no bullets in his revolver.)

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