Skip to comments.100 Year Starship: Nasa’s plan to colonise galaxy
Posted on 10/29/2010 8:15:56 PM PDT by LibWhacker
Nasa man expects first prototype of a spaceship that will take us between worlds within a few years
The US space agency Nasa has announced an intriguing new project called the 'Hundred Year Starship' which aims to send humans on a one-way trip to newly discovered planets across the galaxy.
"The human space programme is now really aimed at settling other worlds," said Pete Worden, director of Nasa'a Ames research laboratory, at a seminar in San Francisco. "Twenty years ago you had to whisper that in dark bars [or] get fired."
The Ames laboratory is responsible for Pioneer 10, the space probe that is currently hurtling through deep space equipped with a golden plaque describing what humans look like and the location of earth.
But while Pioneer 10 is telling the aliens - some say foolishly - where we are, the Hundred Year Starship mission is saying: 'We're coming to get you.' And the aliens have reason to be frightened: while a mere $100,000 in funding is coming from Nasa, $1 million is being provided by the US government's shadowy defence R&D agency Darpa (home to the legendary 'space bomber').
Darpa confirmed to The First Post that the 100 Year Starship project exists. It will begin as a year-long study which will examine the "business model needed to develop and mature a technology portfolio enabling long-distance manned space flight a century from now".
Paul Eremenko, Darpa's coordinator for the project, said: "The 100 Year Starship study is about more than building a spacecraft or any one specific technology."
"We endeavour to excite several generations to commit to the research and development of breakthrough technologies and cross-cutting innovations across a myriad of disciplines to advance the goal of long-distance space travel, but also to benefit mankind."
Darpa also says it hopes that the advancements achieved in the course of the 100 Year Starship project will have "substantial relevance to Department of Defense mission areas".
However, $1.1m isn't nearly enough to fund such an ambitious project as colonising new worlds and the Ames lab is hoping to attract private funding. Worden says: "We hope to inveigle some billionaires to form a Hundred Year Starship fund."
One of those billionaires could be Google co-founder Larry Page, who has already been interrogating Worden about the price of a mission to Mars - the planet that would very likely be the testing ground for more ambitious colonisation missions beyond the solar system.
Google is well known for funding what some might see as eccentric projects, the most recent example being its driverless car. Worden suggests he is very interested in space exploration: "Larry Page asked me a couple weeks ago how much it would cost to send people one way to Mars and I told him $10 billion, and his response was, 'Can you get it down to one or two billion?'" Worden sees the fact that he is arguing over price - and not feasibility - as progress of sorts.
There is no information as yet about the tricky details of generational space travel. After all, this is no five-year mission 'to boldly go where no man has gone before'. This is a one-way trip to almost certain death among the stars.
Certain questions will have to be answered: questions such as, who on earth would want to go, how do you stop the travellers staging a mutiny and turning the ship back round towards earth, or is it a form of child abuse to bring up offspring in such a claustrophobic environment?
However, Worden's answer to the question of how you live on another world is interesting. Rather than resorting to that mainstay of science fiction, terraforming, whereby an alien world is made suitable for organisms from earth, Worden suggests a solution with some root in science fact: using genetic engineering to adapt earth plants and animals - even humans - to live on Mars.
As for actually reaching alien worlds, Worden is very upbeat. "Within a few years we will see the first true prototype of a spaceship that will take us between worlds," he says. By 2030 there will be colonies on the moons of Mars, Phobos or Deimos. From there human colonists can explore the Red Planet remotely with robots.
Just don't tell them about the infamous Curse of Mars. Almost 50 per cent of missions to the Red Planet have failed.
You expect us to believe you would go purely for the benefit of your descendants? Bull!
You're only interested in meeting the exotic, sensuous lithe alien women who whisper seductively, "Tell me more of this human practice called 'kissing' earth man."
Now, now, it’s polite to ping a fellow FReeper when you mention him or her.
Even if they believe in aliens.
(I was abducted by aliens once, but when I couldn’t speak Spanish, they took my wallet and kicked me out of the car.) Just kidding... ;)
Robert Heinlein's classic Orphans of the Sky
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