The "Grand Challenge" of the 100 Year StarshipSubmitted by Bob-45 on Sat, 03/23/2013 - 06:59
By Eric Mack
March 18, 2013
We have officially begun our first mission to travel to distant galaxies ... slowly. It's been about 10 months since DARPA announced it had awarded seed funding to form an independent, non-governmental organization with the goal of pursuing human interstellar space flight within the next 100 years. Leaders from this "100 Year Starship" took to the stage recently at the South By Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, to talk a bit more about what it means to pursue such a "grand challenge."
Former NASA astronaut Dr. Mae C. Jemison told the audience that the task at hand for 100 Year Starship is to figure out how to make the necessary capabilities available. Coming up with an answer is no small feat, especially considering that the Voyager craft is just now exploring the edge of our solar system after more than three decades in space. Traveling at Voyager speed, Jemison pointed out it would take 70,000 years to reach the next closest star to ours.
Inventing a way for humans to make it to other stars or planets without decomposing on the way there requires much more speed and energy than contemporary spacecraft can provide, and "when we are able to create it, we also solve our energy problems (on Earth)," Jemison told the crowd.