Monday, October 25, 2010

To Boldly Go to New Worlds, NASA Announces '100-Year Starship'

The Starship EnterpriseLee Speigel - It might sound like the stuff of science fiction, but a NASA official says that "within a few years" scientists will unveil a prototype for a spaceship capable of taking earthlings to other worlds.

Speaking at a Long Now Foundation conference in San Francisco over the weekend, Simon Worden, center director at NASA's Ames Research Center in California, said a project is under way called the "Hundred Year Starship."

As reported by, the project is, so far, a joint venture between NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, and looks to utilize new ship propulsion modes.

"Anybody that watches the ["Star Trek"] Enterprise, you know you don't see huge plumes of fire," Worden, a retired Air Force brigadier general, said at the conference.

"Within a few years, we will see the first true prototype of a spaceship that will take us between worlds."

Worden added that NASA is "now really aimed at settling other worlds. Twenty years ago, you had to whisper that in dark bars and get fired."

So far, the starship project has received $1 million from DARPA and $100,000 from NASA. That's certainly not enough to make this enterprise (if you will) a reality, and Worden said he's hoping to entice some billionaires to help fund it. ...

via To Boldly Go to New Worlds, NASA Announces '100-Year Starship'.


Ann said...

Not to belittle a bold dream, a “Hundred Year Starship,” but how long does a new automobile last? A new home, which most of us can't even pay for? Isn't there something wrong with this picture? Shouldn't we dream of life on earth before we begin to include life in space in our dreams? Or, our dreams of life on earth merely empty space?

Xeno said...

We currently have all of our eggs in one basket. Given what we know about space, our planet's history, the alien attacks on Jupiter, etc., we risk extinction if we do not shoot boldly for the stars. Our oldest known stories have reached across thousands of years to deliver the message: Build a life raft, you fools!

Ann said...


Sam said...

Ann's got an important point, though; even machines we have built that have gone on to give us decades of service (aircraft carriers are first to spring to my mind) require overhauls. In space, no one can hear you curse out your defective machinery. Even an immense "Bio-dome" of a ship would have one of the most erratic wild-cards ever imagined, human beings, as a pivotal component. As we are already making clear, humans, on the whole, are not good long-term thinkers, and currently I can think of no scenario that would make good odds for a successful prolonged starship voyage. We'll do it eventually, but for now it would totally fail due to what the old mechanics' adage refers to as the "loose nut behind the wheel."