Since its inception (okay, since the early 1960s) the United States has been the world leader in space travel and exploration, taking the lead in crafting mankind's vision and agenda for humanity's role in space. So it made sense when NASA and DARPA announced their joint "100-Year Starship" study last year to explore the possibility of a one-way manned mission to another planet. But this initiative isn't quite as exciting as it seems; sure, the United States government would like to see humans explore and settle deep space. It just wants someone else to do it.
That's a bit of a contrast from the moon landing, a feat that no private sector entity would have been able to achieve on its own at that time. Some projects are just too big for private industry to undertake, and these are the places where government is supposed to step up and organize the resources and manpower to do great things.
The 100-Year Starship won't be one of those projects, at least if an official statement released yesterday is any indication.
Says Dave Neyland, Director of DARPA's Tactical Technology Office:
"Looking at history, most significant exploration, like crossing oceans or continents for the first time, was sponsored by patrons or groups outside of government. We're here because we'd like to start with a mechanism that gets this long-range project out of the government, and make sure it is an energized and self-sustaining enterprise."
So the goal of the "100-Year Starship" is really just to get the ball rolling and then hand over the funding, organizing, and building of any eventual interplanetary starship to someone else who has the resources and resolve to see the job through. That is, someone with more technological and financial resources than the government of the United States of America.
Check back in a century and we'll let you know how it goes.
I think its very important to put more resources into the exploration of space, but not having it under the control by a government or the UN might be very dangerous. Because when we DO find other intelligent life out there, the people on the spaceship will be representing us as a whole. And it would be very bad for us all if they created an interplanetary war.
It could happen, but I dont think that there is life more advanced than us. But, if there was, it wouldn,t make a war; the would be a confrontation, but thats it. But, first things first, we would first have to create a way to turn light into food. It is possiable for energy can be transfered from one form to another; like light to electricity; and electricity to heat. It would be almost impractical to have to weight three months for 3 pounds of potatos ect. Mabie we should just compress sugar into 500 calorie pills.
There are rare breeds of Earth organisms that have been theorized to take sunlight and using chlorophyll and a few common elements make a substance known as a "vegetable" or "fruit". Now finding a specialist known as a farmer may be difficult as their numbers have declined greatly in recent years due to increased mechanization.
I also suggest that the 500 calorie pills be suppository to shorten the delivery time into the body and provide boundless energy to our mechanized space "farmers".
"100 year starship" we don't have the technology to build a ship that could reach another star, even in 100 years. If we are even going to try to make such a trip we need a destination first, we don't have that unless you want to pick a star not knowing if there are any planets we would like to visit. More wasted tax dollars.
Hello, the very problem cited.
"There are rare breeds of Earth organisms that have been theorized to take sunlight and using chlorophyll and a few common elements make a substance known as a "vegetable" or "fruit". Now finding a specialist known as a farmer may be difficult as their numbers have declined greatly in recent years due to increased mechanization."
Okay, man, I thought the article was a great zing, but this topped it. Easily. = )
I would get on that starship immediately, knowing I would not live to see it arrive, and knowing there would be no coming back.
So basically, NASA and DARPA are taking an idea that countless people have had before and giving the green light for someone else to do it? I don't see how this is them actually DOING anything other than sitting around and shooting ideas into the wind.
... Oh, right.
@Sphaerus I had been waiting for someone to mention something be name- Heinlein is generally credited with the first description of a generation-ship to reach the stars (the story "Universe").
To all of the above commenters: Please Google, "singularity ai kurzweil". That's the future of human, interstellar, space travel.
Visit the website, http://100yearstarshipstudy.com, for current information about the program.
Yeah it could be shaped like a giant coca cola can, powered by its excellent taste and fizziness. When we do reach an inhabited planet in our Firestone spacesuits we can use the McDonald's assault / recon vehicle to identify all oil wells on the planet. Because rich and wealthy companies are much better representatives than say scientist or astronauts.
"Wanamingo", no one in their right mind would argue with that comment. Unless the Mayan Indians are correct with their predictions and their 26,000 year calendar that intelligence and abilities will increase a 1,000 times shortly after the winter solstice of 2012, we will not have the intelligence, technology or ability to build a space ship that can withstand the dangers of space for that lone a period. It is a pipe dream in thinking that we can, but it is a good pipe dream and let's hope the Mayan are correct.
Good finally some space porn oppurtunities
"we don't have the technology to build a ship that could reach another star"
How would you know? Are you an expert on the matter?
I love listening to people telling us what we can't do and is always someone with no knowledge on the subject with an alter motive. Exhibit A "More wasted tax dollars"
"If we are even going to try to make such a trip we need a destination first"
Yes we need a destination, but that doesn't mean we can't start building a starship. This type of project would take decades to complete and by that time we would have several viable options.
"More wasted tax dollars"
This is what your whole comment really boils down to and it's completely misguided. If you're really worried about wasted tax dollars, start looking at the military and it bloated trillion dollar budgets.
@JohnnyH, who better a namesake than the third US President, Thomas Jefferson? Just think: the Starship Jefferson.
"movin on up to the east side to that delux....." playing that song the whole time hehe
Isn't it a bit of a waste to make a 100! year spaceship. think of the achievements humanity can make in those 100 years that the spaceship is in space. with in 50 years of it being in space, we might come on to a discovery of warp technology (i don't mean Star Trek!) or some other means of travel that is faster than the original 100 year starship.
Inevitably i think we would invent something faster that would just catch up and or pass the 100 year starship within the 100 years it takes to get to its destination.
on the subject of "More wasted tax dollars" and the comment following "This is what your whole comment really boils down to and it's completely misguided. If you're really worried about wasted tax dollars, start looking at the military and it bloated trillion dollar budgets."
Without the bloated trillion dollar budget there is a good chance we would be speaking a different language and you wouldn't be able to talk about your government like that, because some other stronger military force could over power us. but, our government gives you the choice of free speech so feel free to say it and think it.
How funny / crappy would it be to be 75 years into your trip and then a shiny new spaceship pulls up along side you, or better yet some other company beat you there.
Part of me ascribes to the "it would suck to be the passengers on that 100yr ship who arrive at their destination to be met by people sent out on a 10yr ship that took off sixty years after the 100yr ship took off". Then again, if one *doesn't* do the 100yr ship, first, that 10yr ship will never be launched, either.
We'd be speaking another language? Like Spanish?
When that ship arrives in a hundred years, they'll find that humans had already colonized the planet ten years prior to their arrival and the their trip only took a few months.
if i were on the 100 year ship, id prolly be so pissed ha.
sure. Spanish sounds about right. Hypothetical. could be French Canadian.
Ferric i think you may be right though, whos to say the vikings and the Spanish shouldn't have sailed the Atlantic when Airplanes flew over it a couple hundred years later much faster.
100 years just seems so long in this day and age of new tech coming out every year.
i guess im for the 100 year starship, for the sake of exploration, as long as they scoop up the people on the 100 year starship when they cruise up on them with their shiny new "warp drive" and pick them up.
Firstly, I must echo the comments about the suppository. If it doesn't come in the form of a suppository, I don't want to hear about it.
Secondly, let's fill up the ship with Apple Fanboys. They will appreciate the opportunity to drone on endlessly about Macs to someone who doesn't know anything about them and we won't have to listen to them anymore.
Lastly, space is lame. You know what's cool? Apple products. How do they fit all that functionality into such a beautifully packaged device and make it so affordable?
Now I know more than ever my silly notion of crafting a craft that could in the same day visit the depths of the marianas trench and orbit the moon would take at least 100 years to complete...
Good luck getting any significant science funding for any real science program until at least a decade has gone by. We are now a country of greed only. If it doesn't make money, it doesn't get funded. End of story. (Hate this!)
Last week's modern miracle of non-aging mice has a certain ominous portent of, say, having to live in 10 year shifts alternating with 20 years of suspended animation until galactic colonization can tidy up on humanity's excess proliferation. Or perhaps mulching the remains of those choosing virtual sublimation would be the optimal solution to Malthusian constraints. Hmm, this could be the solution to Fermi's paradox of the non-appearance of advanced civilizations - they've all sublimed off their planets. But only boring people are bored, don't sublime and the galaxy is ours!
Starship Jefferson! Hahahaha!! Awesome.
You don't have to be an expert on the matter by any means to understand basic mathematics.
The distance light travels in 1 year is known as a light-year, and is widely used to measure vast distances in space.
Light travels @ 670,616,629 Miles per HOUR.
That is 16,094,799,096 Miles in a single earth day.
5,874,601,670,040 Miles per year. The closest star system to our own (which doesn't appear to bare anything interesting, atleast with the current technology used to measure and observe.) is just over 4 light years away. That is over 24 trillion miles just to reach the closest star system which probably doesn't have anything habitable, which means given current technology, we wouldn't even bother. Somewhere where we might actually want to go is in the range of 20-21 light years away.
Current methods of achieving acceleration in space are very limited and do not result in velocities anywhere close to the required amount. The fastest technology so far is ion thrusters which ionize a gas and accelerate it away from the vehicle, effectively achieving velocities of up to 35,000 MPH. Gravity assist of massive objects can be used to "slingshot" the craft into much higher velocities of up to 150,000 MPH, or so (theoretically, but has not been done with life on board because this was done with gravity assist by the sun).
One promising technology is the VASMIR rocket. Prototype models have been created and tested at energy levels of 50 kW, 100kW, 150 kW, and 200 kW. The more energy poured into it, the faster we can go. However, these tests were performed on earth where energy generation is less of a problem than in outer space. The ISS does not yet have a nuclear reactor which would be required to power the VASMIR. 200kW would achieve something around 250,000 MPH without any gravity assist.
You might be thinking... well, 250k MPH seems like a lot right? wrong. Its less than 1% of the speed of light. If Proximus Centauri is 4.2 light years away, traveling at 1% of the speed of light (more than current technology allows for, and even top end of developing technologies), we are still looking at 400+ years for a one-way trip. Technology on earth would probably surpass by that time, and a new generation of ships would pass by the earthly explorers with an entirely new mission.
What I am getting at is, not in this life time... or even a forseeable one. What time frame would be realistic for a manned mission to another star system?? 10 years?? 20?? If it doesn't happen in this time frame, there is no point. At 20 years we are looking at atleast 40 years round trip and we would need to travel 20 times faster than current DEVELOPING technologies. Oh yea, traveling that fast, you need to take time to decelerate unless you want to overshoot entirely, or turn your body into a puddle. Like I said before, the closest star system doesn't even appear to be a viable destination for a manned mission. A more interesting grouping of stars is 20-21 light years from home.
Heres more numbers to help you understand just how vast space is...
Our home, the Milky Way galaxy is approx. 100,000 light years across. Home to millions, perhaps billions of stars.
Distance between stars is relatively small in the grand picture. Distance between galaxies however, very very large. Somewhere in the ballpark of 20 to 40 times the size of a galaxy on average... We're talking the distance light will travel in millions of years.
Another interesting fact... Light coming from distant galaxies will never reach galaxies in the opposite distance... and here is why. The universe is expanding in a way that we dont quite understand yet. It is now know that galaxies far enough apart from each other have enough space between them, that the expansion of the universe in the given space between the galaxies is causing them to move apart at speeds greater than the speed of light... THEREFORE, No amount of information in ANY form will ever be common between the two. No intelligent lifeforms of any kind could ever possibly even know about the existance of one another.
Given these facts, it would seem that our future as a space faring civilization is extremely limited. Maybe we'll leave this grouping of stars one day, but maybe we're limited to this solar system. With that said, what would be the purposed of the millions of other stars in this galaxy alone? Not to mention the estimated hundreds of billions of galaxies that exist. It seems like the universe is constantly rolling the dice with hopes of landing on that unlikely set of conditions which supports life. If this indeed the case, it would seem that it is the only responsible answer, to keep worlds evolving life extremely far apart from one another to prevent annhilation of one another in the primative days... and it also fits the situation that a civilization advanced enough to meet the requirements of interplanetary or even interstellar space travel will have evolved past violent behavior. Or, no race was ever meant to communicate with another, in any way. (I find this situation unlikely... because the math shows worlds with life that exist relatively close to one another).
Something else that will blow your mind... Light particles are called photons. If you energize a wave of photons enough, some of the energy is converted into particle pairs which contain MASS. Interestingly enough, these particles are only formed in pairs (electron, positron[anti-matter equivalent to an electron]) and immediately attract one another and upon contact with annhilate back into photons in the form of gamma rays, however this can now be prevented, and the matter particles can be captured and studied. I wonder if this has anything to do with the "speed of light squared" portion of einsteins relativity equation. (two particles, created by highly energetic light) In short... Energy can be converted to matter, and we already know the matter can be converted into energy... take nagasaki and hiroshima for example... result of energy released because a nuclear bond was broken and some electrons had no where to go in newly formed atomic bonds. Does this mean that theoretically, we can use energy to artifically create mass?? Maybe to the point where its gravitational affect causes local time dilation, or even better, a means to manipulate space-time altogether? You decide!
E=MC^2 and C^2/E = M... lol, I think... right?
I could go on and on about this super interesting topic. I have never gone to college, I have never studied physics or astronomy. I just have a genuine passion for the topic. If you have comments or idea's relating to the topic, I want to hear what you have to say.
Did anyone actually read the article? Or the link?
The 100 year ship plan is for Mars, not interstellar.
The colony it transports is meant to last 100 years without needing resupply, not take 100 years to get there.
I used to think going to another solar system was impossible because of the distance, but I find that questionable now. The reason is the limitations can be met. First we will never send a ship fast enough, but we can send a few grams at close to the speed of light by using Saturn’s magnetic field like a giant particle accelerator. So we can send our frozen embryos’ to grow a human in a new habitable location like the star Gleza where the “WOW event came from.
Starting with a small mammal like pigmy mice that have been cloned taken to hibernation are then cut apart and frozen. The parts are examined by MRI to determine the amount of freezing damage then the surviving cloned mice parts are sent to the next star system. They are then reassembled, from the surviving mice parts to reconstituted several mice. Larger and larger mice embryos are gestated till reaching an altered one that can gestate a pig, then pigs till we reach a chimpanzee, the chimp to reach a human being.
As you can see we can medically reach another star system if we can find a habitable planet. Then we use even more medicine to gain a presence there. By using large brain computer interface devises. Like a kind of shower cap implanted on the surface of the brain to allow two people to exchange stimulus. The technical problems may be solved in the near future by conductive silicone, and or conductive hydro gel. Entanglement communications may give us the instant communications required that allow us to trade places with another human in another star system. Perhaps entanglement communications perpetually established through the DNA of the organisms we send.
All these technologies are within the grasp of our near future, and star travel of few grams at a time within half a life times travel.