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Interstellar Travel a Reality

Updated on January 8, 2012

Mae Jemison

Ex-astronaut | Source


Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency [DARPA] is a reality.

DARPA will award a $500,000 contract to study the technical, political and social implications for ultra long term projects, such as inter stellar missions.

This is all part of the Pentagon’s “100 Year Starship” Project to explore what it would take to organize a multi generational mission beyond the solar system.

In the first step, it is rumored that DARPA will name Mae Jemison, who became the first black woman in space in 1992, to lead the project.

Mae Jemison a physician, Peace Corp worker and astronaut since 1992, Jemison has since founded several ventures including The Jemison Group, a technology consulting company, also The Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, which deals with educational projects. More recently, Jemison played a major role in facilitating the 100 Year Starship symposium organized by NASA.

One other “claim to fame” she has, is that she was the first real life astronaut to appear in a “Star Trek” episode.

Nearby Stars

Neighbors | Source


The task ahead for Jemison, if she accepts, is not an easy one.

There will be the task of organizing funding. Not able to rely on Government funding alone, she will have to try and entice billionaires to also invest.

She will have to choose a company to build the craft. Several people have shown interest: The Tau Zero Foundation, Icarus Interstellar and The Foundation for Enterprise Development.

Obviously, later there will be other tasks such as selecting a crew and dealing with the aspects of sex in space.

One of the most daunting tasks though, will be the selection of a destination for the interstellar craft.

There are billions of stars to choose from but obviously distance is a major factor. Because of this the Alpha Centauri system, as our nearest neighbor, has been suggested. This system though is still 4.4 light years from the Sun. To put that in perspective, if Earth was Orlando and Alpha Centauri was in Los Angeles, the size of our solar system would equate to 1 mile. Up to date, no craft from Earth has yet travelled that first mile and so the task is indeed daunting.

DARPA Headquarters


Mission Complete

It is good to see that NASA and the Defense Department have come together to create DARPA, it shows that despite the economy they are still looking to the future.

Unfortunately, although none of us will be alive to see the completion of a first multi generation space mission, some of us, may now be around to see the first launch of one.

Since the shut down of the international space station and the scrapping of the space shuttle, many have been wondering the future of America’s space program. We still may not know what is in the near future but I am sure that it will certainly include the testing of propulsion systems for any future inter stellar craft. Will it perhaps be nuclear or did Mae Jemison learn some secret on “Star Trek”?


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    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 6 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Without marked advances in propulsion, even a trip to the nearest star is a fools errand. The ship would have to be a microcosm of planet earth. We are looking at thousands of years, when we have trouble planning well for the next one. We have to up the ante technology wise before we can even consider such things, Cred2

    • syzygyastro profile image

      William J. Prest 6 years ago from Vancouver, Canada

      I know a way to cut down on the travel time to the stars. But we need to build space colonies in L4 and L5 and start mining asteroids for raw resources to begin. If we start now, we can build and man interstellar ships in a little as twenty years. There is plenty of material and energy whizzing around near earth space to start with. The moon being a gravity well like earth will make the venture more costly. We need to look to mining near earth objects like Eros and learn how to build interstellar ships in the near zero gravity environment. I may write a hub about the whole program.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      This is all good news. It's our only long-term hope and it won't come about in our lifetime, or that of our kids and grandkids (according to Richard Hawkins). I think we need to be realistic and build on the moon then Mars at first, to act as way-stations. Mars will be sub-terrestial I imagine. This is well within the grounds of possiblity within 20 years. Good to see there is a spark of interest still in this time of economic woes.

      Interesting hub Bob