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The 100 Year Starship

Dr. Mae Jemison was the first black woman in space. Now, she’s leading a wildly ambitious project: to achieve interstellar travel in the next 100 years. She’s with us.

Rendering of Daedalus starship, art by Adrian Mann

Rendering of Daedalus starship, art by Adrian Mann

Think Star Trek and you won’t be far off. A new Pentagon project is putting out seed money for interstellar travel. Humans, rambling around among the stars. It’s called the 100 Year Starship project. It’s as wildly ambitious as just about anything you can imagine.

The spaceship, its energy source, its passengers’ survival – full-blown or just as DNA… all giant challenges. Not to mention that we’re sort of broke and not even flying space shuttles right now. Leader of the new effort: astronaut Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space. She’s with us.

This hour, On Point: the 100 Year Starship.

-Tom Ashbrook


Dr. Mae Jemison, a physician and NASA astronaut, she was the first black woman to travel in space. She was recently selected to head the 100 Year Starship project, an independent, non-governmental, long-term initiative for human interstellar flight.

Paul Gilster, a technology writer and futurist, he blogs at Centauri Dreams.

From Tom’s Reading List

Space.com “Star Trek’s bold vision of the starship Enterprise manned by a diverse crew may no longer just be science fiction — especially with the first woman astronaut of color heading the real-life project. The U.S. military has chosen Mae Jemison’s nonprofit foundation to receive half a million dollars in seed funding to help turn the 100-Year Starship into reality.”

BBC “Today, Mae Jemison may be best known as the first black female astronaut to travel to space, but someday she could be known for something much more monumental. That’s because she is now at the helm of what could well be the most audacious project ever imagined: a Pentagon-funded effort meant to lead within 100 years to a spaceship that will take humans to the stars.”

Video: NASA Announcement

Pete Worden, Director of NASA’s Ames Center, announces the establishment of a “100 Year Spaceship” program: a DARPA-funded project to develop spacecraft capable of traveling to points far beyond our own solar system.


Check out this NASA photo of Mae Jemison on the space shuttle.



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  • AC

    are you hiring??!! :)
    i’d love to live forever to see this…

  • Wm. James from Missouri

    John von Neumann and others tried to convince the world that we could colonize the universe “ on the cheap “ by developing and deploying self- replicating robots that would eventually be able to combine in various tasks and ‘forms” ( my word) to create civilizations, out “there”. I hope he is speaking to you from the grave. The “spin offs” alone ,of such technologies , would be enough to end anything that we would call “poverty”, today. Ms. Jemison, I support your efforts. If I had access to such technologies in the appropriate volumes I am quite sure I would have to say “adios “ to Earth and it’s “anti progressive ” attitudes. I wish you the wonders of the Universe !

    P. S. If you are looking for a way to create the spark that may get us to these technologies. I hope you will consider pushing on companies like Microsoft to make neural networks a standard part of their operating system and readily available to any programmer, so that the general public would come to realize that a machine is ,in fact, possible of simulating what we would call thought. I believe it was Andrey Kolmogorov, who proved that a network of 500 nodes was capable of computing anything in the Universe. I think that if a computer user could drag and drop “mini” networks into their applications (up to 512 nodes each ) and could link them with “AND”, “NAND”, OR, etc. statements, eventually someone or some group via distributive computing would create the “mind” that we are all missing !

    • Charles Vigneron

      James Hogan wrote several wonderfully funny sci-fi books with Von Neumann’s notion.

      What about the problem of bone density? 

      • Wm. James from Missouri

        Solving the bone density and bone health problem is a good example of a possible “spin off technology” that would benefit those who suffer from osteoporosis and arthritis.

    • Bernard B

      But of course, such levels of technology presumably quickly make humans pointless.

      • Wm. James from Missouri

        Of course you have a right to your perspective but I prefer to think that such technologies will make my life more purposeful and productive and not as you have suggested ; “pointless“. My PC can perform many more operations per second that I could ever hope to and yet it is my ability to interface with this technology, that has allowed me to actualize a wide range of, heretofore, impossible outcomes.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Only to pointless humans?

    • Wm. James from Missouri

      Note: When I say compute anything ; I mean anything that is computable. We are always confined by Gödel’s incompleteness proof as we are by Turing’s answer to the Entscheidungs problem.

  • Gemli

    If you promise to fill an interstellar craft with Republicans, I’ll send you fifty bucks to get the ball rolling.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      WHAT crime did Aldebrans do to you?

    • J__o__h__n

      Put them on the B Ark. 

  • Terry Tree Tree

    MANY books and movies about the end of civilization, and even the world.  Wouldn’t it be smart to have a back-up plan to continue human life?

  • joshua B

    sign me on–the star trek will have need for critical thinkers/idea generators/ teacher-writers in prime physical health.  Give me some of that embryonic life juice–extend me 100+ years and lets do it–i can think out of the box, work well under pressure, no task is to big or too small.  

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/62MM25M6LLOAQJFI6PYK2MRDSM TTfromCT

    The concept is truly thrilling, but I have grave concerns about committing unborn future generations to an irreversible destiny. Maybe better to first work on warp drive? : )

    • Terry Tree Tree

      When Warp Drive is built, they could pick earlier launches up on the way?

  • Terry Tree Tree

    Men and women have dreamed of Interstellar flight, and living on other planets, since BEFORE powered flight. 
       DaVinci planned for powered flight, horizontal take off, and VERTICAL take-off!  We accomplished THAT in less than 500 years? 
      WHERE can we go from here?

    • Pointpanic

      I support that dream Terry but Space X and other private space cos. are only interested in commodifying and monopolizing space for profit.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Maybe.   NASA was cut WAY BACK, by the “We’re going to Mars!” party. 
           The job still needs to be done!
           It’s NOT like they’re selling imaginary bonds on lousy mortgage ‘financial instruments’, or anything.

        • Pointpanic

          well no, there not Terry but inorder toprofit from their venture ,eventually they must enlist the military to protect it thus feeding the military Industrial complex. Plus do you want your taxes funding their profits?

          • Wm. James from Missouri

            I think you may have the situation upside down. If there were more money to be made by exploring, colonizing and “ exploiting “ space. There would be less of a push to make money by blowing things up ! You will never change the state of the world by doing the same thing over and over and over and… .

          • Heaviest Cat

            Mr.James ,I fail to see where one precludes the other.  most likely those hoping to profit from exploiting Space are  “thinking ahead”. And they’re going to have to protect their investments espevially from foreign “entrepenuers. Hence the military Industrial complex. as above so below.

  • originalname37

    I’ve been thinking about this problem for a long time.  Here is the proposed solution that I’ve come up with: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ir63Cf-MjA

  • Chris

    Why do humans need to move out to the stars?  This quote sums it up best:

    “Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics and you’ll get ten different answers, but there’s one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on. Whether it happens in a hundred years or a thousand years or a million years, eventually our Sun will grow cold and go out. When that happens, it won’t just take us. It’ll take Marilyn Monroe and Lao-Tzu and Einstein and Morobuto and Buddy Holly and Aristophanes…and all of this…all of this was for nothing unless we go to the stars.”

    • Guest

      That’s a billion years off.  Why are you worrying about that?  If it’s such a concern for you, what do you plan to do when all the stars die off?  How do you plan to escape the universe?

    • Pointpanic

      not necessarily true. nothing lasts forever anyway that doesn’t mean it’s all for nothing.

    • Bernard B

      Bogus — sun:  hundreds of millions of years.  We could ruing the planet in — heckl, we are already well on the way.  Also, it looks pretty clear the universe is dying, so…..

    • joshua B

       which suggests that other species have come to the same conclusion–in infinite universe other most probably developed and reached out into the stars–which suggests that they may have been here in our distant past, in the near past, and even now–perhaps, earth was seeded by others, or influenced, or watched…

      perhaps, if not all ready here, thy are on their way as we speak, and closer than we think…

      if do not go out into the stars–what incredible peoples will we miss out on–and ideas, and cultures, and technology…

      Why finance war–when we can put even more people to work geared toward space exploration–by the powers of the word combined.

      America’s entire infrastructure is built o and depends on war industry–those same people and technologies can be altered and transformed into something good. 

      War is a myth anyway–manufactured by very bad people who belong in jails deep in the earth.

  • JustSayin

    The near term explorers of distant places will be our robotic creations, not squishy vulnerable humans. This is already underway, voyager, Cassini, Spirit & Opportunity, etc.

    It nice to dream about heavy lift assemblies, but a more likely scenario is that any “star ships” for human explorations will have to be built with robotics as well from near earth resources.

    There is also the technological rate problem. Once launched the star ship explorers would be likely be waving to the more advanced ship passing by in 20 years going twice as fast.  

    • Terry Tree Tree

      The advanced ship can’t give a tow?  

      • JustSayin

         Going twice as fast, means that they would consume too much energy to stop and accelerate, and support the hitchhikers. Technologically they are on their own.

    • Sam from New York

      There is a speed limit to how fast you can move a human being. We are built to accelerate at 10 m/s comfortably. If you go 5 times that, most people will pass out. 10 times that, most people will die. The maximum speed is determined by the distance from Earth, we can only accelerate so much over a given distance.

    • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

      In response to your moronic assertion about my “extremist irrational views”, it’s sufficient to note that I’m in the best of company:

      Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West (1918)

      Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (1932)

      Paul Goodman, Communitas: Means of Livelihood and Ways of Life (1947)

      George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

      Arthur Koestler, The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man’s Changing Vision of the Universe (1959)

      Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society (1964)

      Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (1964)

      Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization (1934), The Myth of the Machine (1967)

      Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects (1967)

      E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful (1973)

      Ivan Illich, Tools for Conviviality (1973)

      Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture (1977)

      Theodore Roszak, Person/Planet: The Creative Disintegration of Industrial Society (1979)

      Jerry Mander, In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations (1991).

      Neil Postman, Technopoly: the Surrender of Culture to Technology (1992)

      Kirkpatrick Sale, Rebels Against the Future: The Luddites and Their War on the Industrial Revolution: Lessons for the Computer Age (1995)

      Morris Berman, The Twilight of American Culture (2000), Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire (2006), Why America Failed: The Roots of Imperial Decline (2011)

      Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains (2010)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    I don’t think we’ll be the ones going to stars – I think by then robotics and AI will be to the point we can develop and launch  autonomous or mostly autonomous probes smart enough to deal with years of day to day operations and sending back data and requests for command decisions to us.

    • JustSayin

      Agreed. Here is a speculation on how that would be done: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNLfNe12BKE&feature=related

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Women and men will GO!

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

        A lot of logistics to work out then – we’re not even sure of how to get folks to Mars without serious radiation damage.

        • Terry Tree Tree

          I didn’t say it would be easy!  Wright flight to now, wasn’t all easy? 
             Notice all the volunteers on here?

  • Chris

    Another reason humans must move to the stars:

    “When we look out on the heavens, we see not the slightest inkling that another living thing inhabits those frozen spaces. If Life is a common phenomenon in this universe, then the star clouds of our galaxy should shout its presence. But the sky is silent. There is no trace of Life making its metamorphic presence felt on a galactic scale. The roaring silence of deep space only confirms our worst fears – we are alone.””Until we learn otherwise, we must assume that we are the solitary guardians of Life’s only spark. As far as we know, the fate of the cosmos is in our hands. Ours is an awesome and frightening responsibility.””We exist as a species for one reason: to bring Life to the universe. A living universe is the ultimate fulfillment of our Cosmic destiny.”

    -Marshall Savage

    • Pointpanic

      UM…. given our bleak record on this planet ,I think Savage’s purple prose is way off the mark. before we arrogate ourselves to the postition of the “solitary guardians of Life’s only spark, maybe we should learn humility in the face of nature and the cosmos.

  • Terry Tree Tree

    CONGRATULATIONS TO SPACEX DRAGON!  They are helping to make this vision of Interstellar Travel REAL!

    • http://profiles.google.com/rickevans033050 Rick Evans

      Low earth orbit is not even interplanetary. Never mind interstellar.  Get a grip, man!

      • Terry Tree Tree

        First Wright Brothers flight was what, 10 seconds?
           Are aircraft limited to 10 second flights, NOW?

    • Pointpanic

      Terry,my friend, given your pattern of psts ,I can’t believe ,you’re totally behind Space X. I would think that someone like you would have questions about the social , environmantal and military implications of privatized space travel and who benefits from it.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        “We’re going to Mars!”  Republicans that gutted the NASA budget, leave no alternative for space exploration.
           YES, I have questions, trepidations, and insights.
           SpaceX can be used for GOOD, or EVIL, as can anything else?

        • Pointpanic

          Terry , can “privatization” of space travel have any real good for the average citizen? So since the GOP has gutted NASA’s budget (yet it still partially funding Space X)don’t you smell a rat ? Why has the GOP gutted funding for NASA? Probably to open the gate for SPace X

  • http://profiles.google.com/rickevans033050 Rick Evans

    “Fascinating. But Star Trek was fantasy TV.  I know because I was there.” — Mr. Spock

  • J__o__h__n

    Don’t wear a red shirt. 

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Which star system is the first target?

  • matt

    I nominate Newt to be president and captain of the Starship.

    • Pointpanic

      you’re joking, right? … right?

    • Terry Tree Tree

      To planet Tiffany’s?

  • ST

    Without counteracting gravity directly, this is an impossibility.

  • Vahue23

    What an exciting day, with the SpaceX Dragon in the skies and listening to Dr. Jemison! I feel hope again for our future among the stars.

  • Sam

    Why would you name a project after a dude who ultimately failed? Icarus.
    Just. Strange.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       He’s a reminder of who we are.  We must fly, even if it kills us.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

     Going much faster creates time dilation effects.  Barring some kind of warp drive–with unknown effects at present–the people on board the ship will be out of sync with Earth’s calendar, if the ship moves faster than .75 c.

    • Bernard B

      And if they go slower, frozen or not, they will be out of sync with life on earth when they get back.

  • ST

    More energy = consistently less output. This discussion is beyond science fiction. Without knowing how to counteract gravity, this isn’t going to happen. If we can figure out how to counteract gravity, everything changes and we emerge from our caves.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       Counteract gravity?  We do that all the time.

      • ST

        We have never directly counteracted gravity. We don’t even know what causes it. This is exactly what I mean. Counteracting gravity with rockets is not counteracting gravity directly.

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

           Gravity is created by the warping of space by mass.  We can’t cancel it out, but we can overcome it.

          • ST

            Yes, we think that is correct but whatever is causing this to happen can be described as warping space. Still, the question remains unanswered as to why. I’m sorry but, “It just does” needs to be studied further.

    • Bernard B

      Everytime I get in an airplane, gravity is counteracted. It’s called aerodynamic lift.

      • ST

        Read the below posts, air travel using lift is not counteracting gravity directly. That is the bernoulli principle. A good description of counteracting gravity directly would be to build a city sized space ship on earth, plugging in a 9V battery, floating it into space without the need to obtain orbit. It may also enable us to focus on a distant mass in space and use its gravitational force to propel a spacecraft toward it, while removing any gravitational force from closer planets, like earth.

      • ST

        Read the below posts, air travel using lift is not counteracting gravity directly. That is the bernoulli principle. A good description of counteracting gravity directly would be to build a city sized space ship on earth, plugging in a 9V battery, floating it into space without the need to obtain orbit. It may also enable us to focus on a distant mass in space and use its gravitational force to propel a spacecraft toward it, while removing any gravitational force from closer planets, like earth.

  • Kradschutzen2

    hey:  what if the questions were grounded in reality?  We cannot tax ourselves or sufficiently organize our society to cure basic social ills yet someone funds this group of dreamers to … dream.  Tom – who is paying this woman’s salary?  Just where does the money come from?

  • wauch

    How about stop spending billions on outerspace BS and allocate it here to stewarding this planet that we destroy by the second. So sick of feeding the Military Industrial Complex companies that will further profit from this dumb and arrogant idea.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Space exploration allows us to monitor the weather, and save lives! 
         Space exploration lets us develop new medicines and proceedures that help mankind!
      Name something that CANNOT be used for GOOD , or for EVIL?

      • wauch

         Near space is what we are using for this sir! You can’t see that most of these are vanity projects? I work on issues associated w/ vacant lands and lack of jobs in inner-cities across The Great Lakes, ecosystem ecology, etc. none of which would benefit, nor would our inability to come to grips w/ explotation of natural resources and population booms from this research. This is just another way to funnel money to the Lockheeds, Bombardiers, General Dynamics, of the world during interregnums.

        • Terry Tree Tree

          The 1% of the world  ALREADY have the money, and the means to remedy the problems that you mention! 
            Instead of living wages to all, they buy companies, load them with debt, TAKE the MONEY, then let the companies sink or swim, with that extra debt, as ONE example!

        • Bernard B

          I didn’t know Bombardier had much, if anything to do with the space programs.

      • Skywayparkblue

        medicines and procedures — basically bogus on any kind of even loose cost effectiveness basis

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

     As a long-time Trekker, I’m sold.

  • Sam

    I did read somewhere in SciFi novels/stories about interstellar flight crews being put together and one of the things that they looked at was each person’s function and temperament.

  • JustSayin

    A hellish ride. 100 years in a large airplane with no set landing time.  Just imagine the horror of that. People are ready to kill each other after just 6 hours on the tarmac.

    • Guest

      Not only hellish ride, a hellish destination.  Just imagine getting to the endpoint and having no suitable place to land.

      • Wm. James from Missouri

        I prefer to imagine a planet of beautiful women who are in great need of my services : )

  • Russell

    This is the first time I wished your show was visual. Dr Mae J is my kinda perfect package …. insanely accomplished, SUPER smart and extremely HOT. Sweet jezush! 

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Certainly looks sharp in the picture!  Obvioulsy smart and talented.

    • Chriscarpe

      And, thanks to the Pentagon, she probably has a lot of cash now too!

  • Roy Mac

    But Star Trek wasn’t organized around an earth country.  Shouldn’t this project involve countries (and taxpayers) from all over the world?

  • Sam

    This is fascinating!

    How can I get involved? Are they hiring? Looking for volunteers?
    In what capacity?

    I’d like to make/be part of the history. :)

  • Eric M. Jones

    Maybe there is a simple solution to the Fermi Paradox after


    We think of the possibility of journeying to another star as
    something that could be done with current technology. It would be a very long


    In about 1963 a Westinghouse R&D scientist explained to
    me that if such a voyage were to happen, extraordinary measure would have to be
    taken to conserve materials. For example when light bulbs burned out would have
    to be disassembled and the tungsten filaments and tungsten dust would have to
    be salvaged, reformed and reused.


    I looked upon this as a good example of the hardships and
    engineering challenges that would crop up when planning such a voyage. “Imagine
    having to disassemble light bulbs to reuse the filaments,” I thought.


    Now I sit here in 2003 and imagine the brave spacemen who
    never left in 1963 and would be grateful they do not have to cope with a
    spaceship filled with glowing lamp filaments, vacuum tubes, racks of crude
    transistors, no LEDs, (only Nixie tubes and vacuum tube VDTs for digital
    displays!) no computers, no integrated circuits, no pocket calculators, no
    microfilters or reverse osmosis in the sewage recycling system; their rank
    cabins filled with 33 1/3 vinyl records, and reel-to-reel tapes. Wind-up
    wristwatches, crumbling paperback books and 8-mm films for entertainment….and
    no great velocity to shorten the miserable journey either. 


    The logical course of action a few years after leaving would
    be to cancel the whole damned trip and return home.


    The logical quandary is that at any time in the foreseeable
    future the problem of technological growth outpacing our ability to cross the
    great void would seem to be getting even worse.


    It has been pointed out that if you went to the stars you
    would find humans, who left much later there to greet you. They in turn had
    found humans who left even later, there to greet them, who in turn….etc. The
    first guy to leave Earth for Alpha Centuri would be greeted by the guys who
    left the week before he arrived at Alpha Centuri. What kept you!


    We might as well stay home.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       What if Columbus had said that?

      • Guest

        Well, we wouldn’t have foreign aliens invading North America spreading disease and wiping out entire civilizations and cultures.

    • Bernard B

      This kind of misses the point of the Fermi question, which is a wonderful tool for thinking about this.

      • Eric M. Jones

        Bernard B.:
        It doesn’t miss the point of the Fermi Paradox at all. This tale simply says that the speed of technological progress probably prevents interstellar travel. If you’d left in 1963…you’d be faced with a nightmare of obsolescence. If you left now, you’d be faced with the same thing, although it’s harder to see now. If technological change accelerates (as it seems to…) then there might be no sensible time to leave on a voyage. You’d be in an obsolete craft before you got very far.

    • Wm. James from Missouri

      I enjoyed your post !

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    To the people who argue that we should spend our money here on Earth and not on “pie in the sky” projects, let’s remember that if we had taken that attitude in the past, we’d all be still in Africa.  Or many of us wouldn’t be here in America.  Or the islands of the world would be uninhabited.  Or no one would have stood at the poles or atop Mt. Everest.  Or so on and so forth.

    We’re explorers.  That’s who we are.  If we abandon that, we give up our humanity.

    • Guest

      Well, we wouldn’t have foreign aliens invading North America spreading disease and wiping out entire civilizations and cultures.

  • ToyYoda

    Is this lady for real?  Mining asteroids is hard enough, going to the nearest star is a million times harder.  And if we get to the nearest star, what will we do?  It’s not about getting to the nearest star, it’s about getting to the next habitable solar system, which we don’t even know where that is, and most likely, it’s million times further away!!

    Why not be more modest and send people to Mars first?

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Why does one exclude the other?

  • Terry Tree Tree

    “RAMA”, by Arthur C. Clarke, gives MANY of the concepts, and answers.   “Return to RAMA” adds to them!

  • Sam

    Also, big – ginormous – kudos to her for following her dream and achieving what she wanted. She is an inspiration to all women (and men) and should be a role model for many many girls and women.

    Has she thought about speaking out more publicly about her life, career, specifically to middle and high school girls? Especially in the underprivileged areas?

  • Elizabeth

    I wonder if we would be more accepting of ‘space beings’ than we are of one-another.  Will we dominate the weaker?  Or will ‘they’ come to us first – and will they dominate us, or will they be understanding and wise?  I find this one of the most interesting aspects of ‘space interactions.’

  • Michiganjf

    Nice propaganda to make it seem like we’re a step ahead of China’s “paltry” moonbase plans, when in reality, the rest of the world is leaping far beyond America’s dwindling techinological and intellectual prowess.

    Soon OX-Fam and the IMF will tend to poor America’s truly important ambitions, as Republicans continue to ensure our march backward…

    • Michiganjf

      …oh, sorry to interject politics above, but all such discussions must realistically address such roadblocks as the stupidity of politics, mustn’t they?

  • Sam

    Uhm, yes, we see that return and even greater one, in money spend on education.
    Sorry to disagree. :)

  • Pointpanic

    From what little I’ve heard, I sense, her heart is in the right place but I’m apprehensive that this is a Pentagon-funded study, given the latter’s strategy of “Full SPectrum Dominance” designed to protect US economic and military interests . THis ,to me simply transfers globalization and war into space, for the benefit of US based multi-nationals at the expense of the average US citizen.

    • Bernard B

      this is far too vacous to be anything of the sort, at least near term

  • Shep abbott

    In 100 years the 1% will be vamoosing from earth in giant space limousines, having turned profits leaving the planet black and toxic while the 99% are left to feed the fossil fuel machine. 

  • Chriscarpe

    Half a million dollars spent on this escapist, impossible project?  Going to a star, a place that is uninhabitable by virtue of its temperature?  And my child still has to play in a decrepit, rusty playground at school while my husband cannot find a job?  We have more Earthly concerns on which this money should be spent.  This money may give the people working on this fantasy a cushy lifestyle, but it really an outrage. 

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       Are you not aware that other stars have planets?  Being small-minded doesn’t do credit to humanity.  We have to have big goals as well as little.

      • Chriscarpe

        how about ending poverty, providing children with skills for their adult life, ending human trafficking, keeping air and water clean, or saving animal species on the verge of extinction?  I am for big goals that can actually be accomplished. 

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

           Why are those either/or?  But consider this.  Where would you rather spend your money–on something that will be of lasting value for the future of humanity or on something that will effect only the present?

          Again, I don’t see this proposal as something that we will do instead of other good things, but as something that we do as a part of all the good that we do.

          • Chriscarpe

            Sure, there are probably much more wasteful things funded by the Pentagon.  This all just struck me as a big fantasy though.  I feel we need to have our house in order on Earth before going and messing up some other place. 

    • JustSayin

       Half a million is NOTHING. That won’t even purchase missiles for one drone attack.

      • Bernard B

        Actually, it will.

  • Galen Labauve

    According to some reports, Astronaut Neil Armstrong, during the Apollo Missions, stated we were warned “Not to Return to the Moon” by other “alien” forces….As odd as this may sound, ham operators intercepted radio communications indicating a presence of something other than human-life on the backside of the Lunar surface.  Under military rules the astronauts are unable to discuss any of this.  Does Dr. Jemison have any knowledge of a “coverup” by government sources? 

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       You’ve been watching too many movies uncritically.

  • Sam from New York

    Unless I did my math wrong (which is possible, it’s been a while since I taught physics), you could make the trip to the nearest star in about 4 years while comfortably simulating Earth’s gravity. That means you accelerate at 10 m/s for half the trip and decelerate at the same pace the other half. That is reasonable… except that it would take a LOT of energy to do that. But hey, that’s why it is a 100 year goal. 

  • Ren Knopf

    Go to Mars and stars ~ or wars… The ROI on the former is so vastly greater than the latter that I, for one, cannot grasp that there is a question. Ren KnopfN Framingham

  • Scott B, Jamestown NY

    I grew up watching astronauts.  Every kid wanted to be one.   I don’t recall anyone every saying, “I want to grow up to design a robot that will be launched on an unmanned mission.”  No, it was “I want to be an astronaut and walk on the moon!”

    We all watched the Space Shuttle launches because there were people on them. How many kids, or people in general, want to watch something over and over that’ has no life to it?  We want to see people that are going where few have gone, taking the ultimate risk, showing us where we might be able to go someday.  

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       Exactly so.  I see pictures from the robot probes, and what is missing from each of them is a human being standing there.  And ultimately living there.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Each DOES NOT exclude the other?

      • Tribalguitars

        No, but robots and automation only inspires a much smaller fraction, and they can do that on earth.  People, especially  the young kids who hold loftier dreams, will want to be involved. A kid that wants to be an astronaut might not make it there, but  they’re  not the astronaut, they can aspire to be person that go the astronaut there, or made them safe, or found a way to make something better, and that will find it’s way down to us terrestrial-minded people. Cell phones, transistors, GPS, weather satellites, water purification, so many things that we take for granted.

        There’s nothing wrong with robots. But none of us didn’t watch the space shuttles because the people wanted to watch the robotic arm grab a satellite. No. We watched to see humans fix that satellite in space.

        • Bernard B

          Yeh, but the robots are getting more capable a lot faster than our launch systems.

  • http://profiles.google.com/rickevans033050 Rick Evans

    In the year 2112 the 100 year star ship voyagers left for the distant planetary system. In the year 2512 they returned … as the Romulans.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      One risk.

  • pkyzivat

    Manned spaceflight is not cost effective. Most of the cost is spent keeping the people alive, and very little, relatively, on the purpose of the mission. We should be exploring space with robotics, at 1% or less of the cost of manned expeditions. And then we won’t be wringing our hands because some astronauts were killed. We still won’t be going to the stars any time soon, but it will be a lot easier without lugging along bags of flesh.

    If we find some place that it would make sense to inhabit, then we can talk about how to accomplish that. But by the time we need to answer that question we will probably be able to send a database of genomes and recreate them on the spot rather than sending people.

  • can do

    Long time ago, we were all – liberals and conservatives alike – proud of the American spirit – Henry Ford, Lee Iacoca, Eli Whitney the Wright brothers - individuals who changed the world.  This effort – and Spacex’s – stirs the same kind of pride in me, even though we’re talking about “the 1%”.   Hedge fund managers are not inspirational.  Elon Musk is.

    • Pointpanic

      Sorry can do but such pablum rhetoric about the “American Spirit” only serves to marginalize issues of worker and environmental exploitation. For example, I would not, as an American be proud of Henry Ford or lee iacoca who embody big captialist hypocrisy at its worst.

  • Mary

    Well.. 100 years starship sounds better than 100 years war..

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Which was 114 years, as I heard lately.

  • monicaroland

    So wonderful to hear Ms. Jemison.  I held her up as a fabulous role model to my middle school students — for her intelligence and courage.  When she came to Buffalo, I used her terrific quote to explain life — and also to teach how a word can be used as a noun or verb.  Here is the quote:  “Never let a fool kiss you, and never let a kiss fool you.”  

  • http://twitter.com/Dave_Eger Dave Eger

    If you are going to live in space for an extended amount of time, you will need closed loop, pollution free waste recycling. We could also use that here on spaceship Earth. Perhaps that’s what we should worry about first, so that those who aren’t shooting for the stars don’t feel like those who are want to leave them behind in a pile of garbage and filth.

    We also need to learn how to deal with garbage information if we ever expect to communicate at a high enough level to pull off global projects at this scale. So much of what people hope for from outer space lifeforms has been morphed over from sci-fi or come from straight up lies that were meant to cover other things. 

    We humans need to get to a point where we can actually debate these things logically, which I do not think we are currently at, if we want to achieve a peaceful enough state on the planet that advanced space travel can be seriously examined without it being suspect of being a cover up for some more dastardly plans.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Space explorers are CAREFULLY chosen, NOW.

  • AlanThinks

    Tom, Dr. Jemison got one thing right that you have been getting wrong all week in the title of your upcoming session with on global warming with Bill McKibben.  The problem we humans are facing is NOT saving the Earth – it will survive us just fine. The problem is preserving a climate that we humans can live with.  I’m all for space exploration, but only after we clean up our act at home.  The best read on this is Kim Stanley Robinson’s ‘Mars Triology”.

    • Bernard B

      I think a “Silent Running” scenario (especially under solid state life forms) is not impossible.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        With Bruce Dern, Huey, Duey, and Luey?  I had forgotten the name of that movie? 

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    One big concern is the radiation in intersteller space.  The hull will have to protect the crew from that.

  • Spirit17of76

    My big concern is the idea of spreading the human population throughout inter-galactic space is how poorly we have exercised our dominion and husbandry here on earth.  We really would not be an asset out there, having come so close to destroying our earthly environment and having decimated so many, many other species.  Very distressing all.

    The one thing that really does excite me is the systems analysis and technical expertise that would be necessary to create a spaceship that can be fully self-sustaining for long periods.  What excellent lessons that could provide to us earthlings!!!!

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    The laser system will accelerate the craft, but what’s the brake on the other end?

    • Guest

      That’s a minor detail that we need to worry about which will only lead to the insane implausibility of this idea.  Just think, even according to the guests the extreme optimism of getting to nearest star is 43 years.  If our goal is to get their in a century, that’s not much margin of error. Get Real.  Pie in the sky imagination is easy to do.  Imagination under constraint is a million times harder and the true test of who can imagine and who can’t.

      This is just bunk…. and I am an advocate of space exploration.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         What would you have said to the Wright brothers or to Robert Goddard?

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Laser drogue chute, like dragsters, jets, spacecraft use?

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         Those work because the aircraft is operating in the atmosphere.  There has to be something on the other end to create resistance.

        • Terry Tree Tree

          LASER drogue chute.  Same as forward propulsion.

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

             Pay attention:  There has to be a laser on the other end for that to happen.  The chute that you name only works because the aircraft is landing in an atmosphere.  The atmosphere creates drag.  What will create drag at the destination?

  • Call_Me_Missouri

    This is a great idea.  This is unfortunately the first I am hearing of it.

    100 Years is a really long time and Humans have a very short attention span.

    What is the plan to get and keep Americans interested in the work begin done by this project?


    Space exploration represents the hope of what mankind can accomplish. I think it is very important to the national psyche to give people something to believe in again.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    We’re finding out who has imagination and who doesn’t in the listeners today.

    • Guest

      As if space exploration is the final judge on who has imagination and who doesn’t?  Right….

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         It’s one measure, yes.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        It IS one indicator!

    • Call_Me_Missouri

      Or we’re finding out who does not believe in the axiom “If there is a will, there is a way”.

  • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

    I caught only a bit of this discussion, but I consider such people criminally insane. Insane, by the definition of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results; and criminal in that they are advancing the most complex technologies when what the earth’s people need is a way to return to radical simplicity and appropriate technology.

    We are destroying this planet’s life-support capability by the over-reliance on technology, and escaping the planet is hardly a responsible answer to our past mistakes.

    “There are only two things that are infinite – the universe and man’s stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” - Albert Einstein

    “The chief cause of problems is solutions.” - Eric Sevareid (CBS news journalist from 1939 to 1977)

    Every technological “solution” to the problems created by past technological “solutions” creates additional problems, and the more complex the “solution” the more broad and impactful the problems it creates.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Feel free to stop commenting on-line, if you don’t like technology.

      • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

        Feel free to move to another galaxy in which critical thinking is banned.

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          You’re here using the benefits of technological solutions to past problems.  Hypocrisy, no?

          • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

            If allowing mindless responses, such as yours, to thoughtful critique is a “benefit” of instant digital communication – then we must all re-examine the relative merits of these technologies.

            Few technologies are either unmitigated evil or unalloyed good, so the critical issue is what is the balance or net effect?

            While the internet has allowed the democratization of information, it has also reduced much discourse to a lowest common denominator level and flooded cyberspace with sheer volume in place of quality content.

            It has also allowed unprecedented tracking and monitoring of citizens by both government and industry, and created a permanent digital record of almost every move a person makes – a record that can often come back to haunt or destroy one’s reputation. 

            What we forget is that technology is only a means, and what is forgotten is to determine first what ends we as a human species should be trying to achieve, and to apply the Precautionary Principle before adoption of any new technique, process or product.

            Certainly, we should find a way to live responsibly on our own planet before expanding our impact elsewhere in space. We have much to do on that front and that’s where our effort and ideas should be focused – not on pie-in-the-sky fantasies.

          • JustSayin

             So technological research that you consider “pie-in-the-sky fantasies” should not be attempted? ALL researchers have been hindered by the frightened Luddites of their time.

            Like curing polio, or penicillin. Bleeding and religious voodoo were better?

          • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

            The Luddites were hardly “frightened” people – they were courageous resistance fighters who refused to allow machine technology to replace craft and artisanship.

            It’s easy (and lazy) to point to the few successes of technological medicine (as I said, all technologies are mixed blessings), but more honest and responsible to look at the big picture.

            The first national meta-study on American iatrogenic (medically-caused) injuries, illnesses and deaths, published in 2003, concluded “A definitive review and close reading of medical peer-review journals, and government health statistics shows that American medicine frequently causes more harm than good…It is evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the United States.”

            This is a perfect example of our refusal to consider the big picture and net effects of our modern religious devotion to high technology, science and engineering. On the whole, it always causes more harm than good – and ultimately and inevitably destroys the living planet.

            So, rather than JustSayin, you might consider thinking first.

          • JustSayin

            I see. When your extremist irrational views are challenged with rational points the challenger has stopped thinking. 

            You love simplicity because you are well… a simpleton.

          • Bernard B

            A lot of iatral deaths are the results of marginal error or mistreatment of very sick people who would die without medical care.

          • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

            That’s not what this study measured, and what it did measure (nearly a million unnecessary annual deaths) was based on incidents that were admittedly 80%-95% unreported (meaning that the true number may be five to twenty times as high).

          • Bernard B

            “In place of quality content” — I think partly true, but suggests a lost Eden that I must have missed back in the 50s.

          • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

            Nothing I said “suggests a lost Eden”, but only points to a steady, and technologically-accelerated, decline in the quality of information (as well as of written and spoken language).

            Read Theodore Roszak’s article Raging Against the Machine for more on this: http://articles.latimes.com/2004/jan/28/opinion/oe-roszak28#mod-blogs

    • JustSayin

      Scientific speculation and engineering are not insane.

      Religion is insane.
      War is insane.
      Uncontrolled  reproduction is insane.

      These are some of the insane things people have done, and continue to do that require no technology at all.

      • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

        In fact, with almost no technology at all, the human species lived in relative harmony with the earth for 2.4 million years. 

        It was only with each new “advance” in technology that we were able to deepen and expand our deleterious impact on our environment – first with the plow, then steam engines and later with fossil fuels.

        If the engineering paradigm – altering our environment to feed our desires – has proven to be so destructive as to initiate irreversible climate change and the sixth great extinction of species, then what is insane is perpetuating and advancing that paradigm without questioning its premises or value.

        The mechanistic, engineering, technophilic paradigm is based on an ethic of control and manipulation of nature for our own selfish ends, and it has led us to the abyss of human extinction. It is a manifestation of hubris and arrogance, and our attempt to be as gods on earth.

        There is a valuable myth about such hubris – about giving in to the temptation to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (knowledge that belongs rightly to the gods), which resulted in our embarrassment and a life of constant struggle and pain.

        There are other such myths, including that of Icarus (who used his cleverness to fly too close to the sun) and of Sisyphus. We would do well to learn the lessons we have always known. Pushing a rock forever uphill is not “progress”, but a form of insanity.

        It is time we humans humbly accept our role in the Web of Life and learn to push downhill – to go with the flow of life rather than fight it, thinking we can improve on what we’ve been given.

        • JustSayin

           So… What is your solution? If given the ultimate power over the activities of mankind today…

          Give us your Luddite solution… Without using technology… 

          • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

            I already have, but you don’t have ears to hear.

          • JustSayin

            Translation: Cornered Luddite.

          • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong
          • Bernard B

            We’ve probably already screwed up — with 7 bil and climbing and most everybody wants the goodies.

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

             That’s not a response.  That’s a list of books that you enjoy.

        • Beta

          Robert, you are at least as trapped in your own vision of truth as those whom you criticize.

          Your objections to the downsides of technological progress and its accompanying ideologies are not without merit, but to focus on them at the expense of the rest of the picture is to risk becoming just another ideologue who has access to the One Truth. 

          You are entitled to your religious beliefs, but don’t confuse them with reality. Humanity has always been a technological species, since the earliest hominids learned to control fire, sharpen stones for tools, and to use their vocalizations to convey symbolic meaning.

          I’m not convinced that there is any “flow” or “Web of Life” independent of us and the concepts we generate. Even hunter-gatherer and agrarian societies impact their environments, setting brushfires or hunting large animals to extinction, for instance. Digging irrigation ditches and killing their fellow humans over resources. Throughout history human civilizations have risen and fallen based on technological
          advances and environmental changes both anthropogenic and non-. The West
          may fall in time, as well– either quickly and catastrophically, or by slowly morphing into whatever comes next.

          At some point humanity as we know it will go extinct (not any time soon, I hope). But it won’t be because we forgot about some “Web of Life”. It will be because we outgrew our environment, or failed to adapt in a way that would allow continued survival. This happens to all species, in time, humanity not excepted. Growth and collapse are natural processes.

          We are still part of the cycles of nature, no matter what kind of technology or culture we have, and no matter what concepts we create to explain to ourselves the meaning of our existence. I would like to see us grow and thrive, too, but I fear that rigid ideologies, be they about “progress” or about what’s “natural”, will not serve that end.

          • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

            You could hardly be more confused or display a more abject ignorance of science.

            Nothing I have said here would suggest either a religious or an ideological basis, and everything I’ve said is based on accepted science.

            That there is a well-defined Web of Life has been established by the Gaia Theory, which has been in development since the 1970s.

            Evolutionary theory makes clear all species pass through a colonizing phase as they attempt to create an ecological niche, and then settle into a climactic, or mature, phase of steady-state highly energy-efficient cooperation both among its own kind and within the broader community of life – all except humanity.

            Homo sapiens is not the only tool-using species, but it’s the only one that has used continually more complex and energy-intensive technologies to expand its impact on the natural world. Rather than use tools simply as extensions of the human body, we’ve developed technologies to replace the human body (and even mind) that have had devastating effects on the natural world.

            That technological development was made possible by a near-religious belief in “progress” coupled with a growing conceptual isolation from wild nature. That isolation from and consequent exploitation of nature was made possible by centuries of Church denigration of earthly things followed by the “enlightened” mechanistic ideas of Bacon, Newton, Descartes and Locke.

            And the technological “progress” was not linear, but made major leaps as we either used up each previous energy source or outgrew them as population increased exponentially (which does not happen in nature): first wood, then coal, then petroleum, then nuclear. With each “advance” in energy technology, human impacts on the natural world became more pronounced and severe, ultimately resulting in irreversible climate change and the first great species extinction event created by one very foolish species.

            Underlying all this inevitable damage from our religious commitment to technical “progress” is the most inviolable law of the universe: the second law of thermodynamics, which states that all energy conversions (which is what technology of any kind does) result in an export of chaos (entropy or dissipation).  

            While we suffer under the mythological illusion that technical “progress” creates greater order in our world, that’s a physical impossibility under the second law. Any localized creation of order results in a greater export of disorder, with the disorder accumulating (as waste, pollution, heat, climate change and species extinctions) until there is nothing left to support life.

            Our fanatical adherence to the myth of technical “progress”, because it violates the most fundamental law of the universe, is a suicide pact. We are now reaping the rewards.

      • Bernard B

        Religion idea is so often dependant on untruth.  But Dr. Jamison wants to bring Theologians (good lord!) onto this project.

        • Call_Me_Missouri

          That probably makes sense actually since for many people Religion is part of their Sociology.  If you are looking at moving large groups of people together on a very long trip perhaps understanding all aspects of Psychology and Sociology isn’t such a bad idea.

          I’m no fan of religion, but some people are it’s likely they will be on a shuttle to somewhere at some point in our evolution.

    • Call_Me_Missouri

      Where’s the DISLike link when you need it?

      • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

        There is no “dislike” button, because you’re expected to offer a rational rebuttal. 

        • Call_Me_Missouri

          Everyone else already has.  It’s impossible to get reason to sink into concrete and I know not to bother with impossible tasks.

          • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

            In other words, you have nothing intelligent to say.

          • Call_Me_Missouri

            I wouldn’t waste my time repeating everyone else.  I am capable of analyzing what is and what is not Redundant Redundant.

          • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

            In other words, you have nothing intelligent to say.

    • GMG

      I have to agree to some extent.  What seems good to us (less pain, longer life, convenience, satisfying our curiosity) may or may not be good from a different, less anthropocentric viewpoint.  

      But at this point I think we can only do our best to muddle through using what we know and what we can discern as the best course of action, and I don’t believe giving up knowing more will help.  We’re already in the game of controlling nature on a planetary scale, and it’s difficult to see how not understanding what we have done or are doing will help.  

      On the other hand, when I hear people talk about geo-engineering I have to agree – unintended consequences are the rule, not the exception.  

      • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

        Where did I propose “not knowing”?

        There are two kinds of knowledge, however. Instrumental knowledge, or how to make things happen; and comprehensive knowledge, or how to understand what is happening.

        Science is necessary for the former, but an obstacle to the latter. Every indigenous person knows what we’re doing to the earth. If we want to have any chance of survival as a species, we must return to our indigenous ways of knowing.

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

           Indigenous knowing?  You mean like dying of infectious diseases that science can cure?  You mean like everyone spending all day hunting and gathering food, when the agricultural revolution allowed for specialization about ten thousand years ago?

          Feel free, if you wish.  Such a life doesn’t allow for electricity, other than lightning, though, so get used to no Internet.

          • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

            Indigenous knowing, something we’re all capable of, is a direct, non-cerebral assimilation of fundamental knowledge from the real world around us. It is mediated by the heart, which modern neuro-cardiology has informed us has more neurons than muscle cells and is not primarily a pump, but an organ of communication and endocrine control.

            Almost all infectious diseases (including tuberculosis, diphtheria, leprosy, influenza and aids) began with the domestication of wild animals (humans now share 65 diseases with dogs, 50 with cattle, 46 with sheep and goats, 42 with pigs, 35 with horses and 26 with poultry), and were not present in hunter-gatherer peoples (which is why native populations were wiped out by the diseases of European civilization).

            Far from being a difficult life, all recent anthropological studies have demonstrated that hunter/gatherers worked about 20-30 hours per week for all their basic needs, while the rest of the time was spent in leisure and cultural activities.

            If you really believe that electricity and DSL bills, pollution, the damning of wild  rivers, utility poles everywhere, and irreversible climate change are worth the minor (and often illusory) advantages of instant (mostly idiotic) digital communication, then you are more Neanderthal than the Neanderthals.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Make it so.  Yup–just what Captain Picard said.

  • Richard L. Bowman, PhD

    As a professor of physics, one of my research projects was to calculate under what conditions we might be able to get an astronaut up to realtivistic speeds (say 90%) of the speed of light. And with an engine that can deliver 2 “g’s” for one year to get to that speed and the same time period with a 2-”g” braking force one could do a trip to a star 10 light-years away.

    However, the energy required is enormous. Even with a photon engine (converting mass completly into energy), it would sitll require an erergy resource of nearly the total earth ouput of energy for a year. And with more conventional engines, it would require a fuel supply of 1/8 or so of the mass of the earth.

    So it is impossible, in my opinion. And these calculations do not even begin to address the need for food and energy to make it for us to send a human being on this kind of journey.

    Why must it be humans? Why not robots? They can lie dormant for years and will still send lots of data when they arrive at a distant star.

    Richard L. Bowman
    Prof. of Physics, Emeritus
    Bridgewater College
    Bridgetwater, VA  22812

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       Because robots aren’t human.  We need to explore.

      • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

        Because humans aren’t robots, we need to think before we act.

    • Beta

      Even academics fall prey to this tendency; to raise objections, which is good, but then to make the leap to “it’s not possible”. It’s impossible to send a ship at .9C, under nearly constant 2G acceleration, sure, but who on the show is advocating that? I understand that the culture of academia is by nature conservative toward bold ideas, but let’s at least give them a chance, ok? Nobodys talking about anti-gravity or perpetual motion, here.

      I think they all acknowledge that interstellar travel is very, very difficult, and that there are many engineering challenges remaining. That’s what is so exciting; a new frontier of knowledge and effort which might open another new frontier in space. That kind of idealistic vision is very attractive in gloomy times such as these.

      Even if Icarus is never built, the knowledge gained as a result of the exercise could benefit us in many other ways; materials, computation, complex systems, energy…also, a workable space-drive that would be very useful for travel within the solar system.

      I agree with you that fleshy humans really aren’t well adapted for interstellar travel (or space in general), as it stands today. Who knows, in a century, our “descendants” may take to the stars
      not as fragile biological entities, but as artificial intelligences.

      • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

        “That kind of idealistic vision is very attractive in gloomy times such as these.”

        Such escapist ideas have always been popular in hard times, because they divert our attention from the very real problems on Earth that must be responded to. It is a form of denial and an opiate to our condition – both of which can be fatal.

        It’s not surprising that such a venture would be named “Icarus”, as that myth was a warning against human technological hubris and a clarion call to stay on Earth where we belong.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-S-Allen/1542337641 John S. Allen

    A laser in the solar system, mentioned on the show, could propel a spacecraft away from the solar system, but what would decelerate it as it approaches its destination?

    • Terry Tree Tree

      A laser beam drogue chute?  We already have retro-rockets, thanks to Jules Verne, in the 1860′s!

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         There’d have to be a laser on the other end for that to work.

        • http://onpoint.wbur.org/about-on-point/sam-gale-rosen Sam Gale Rosen

          When I talked to Paul Gilster, I think he mentioned that are some schemes by which part of a sail could be detached from the ship and somehow reflect beamed light or energy back at the ship from ahead of it to slow it down. (Not sure if I’m getting that right!)

          • Bernard B

            I suppose you could send a braking laser ahead to the star (or a robot to construct one there).  If it breaks while you are on the way there or heading back…..

  • bob

    who do I call at DARPA to get them to stop wasting my tax dollars?

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Why do you see this as a waste?

      • Roy-in-Boise

         Indeed, people who see this as a waste boggle the mind. The stone age didn’t end because we ran out of rocks.

    • JustSayin

       According to Wikipedia: You need to call
      Mr. Stephen E. Cross.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    The distance between stars is so great that we’re more likely to meet aliens in interstellar space, rather than having them visit us here on Earth.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Remember to smile and wave in a friendly manner!

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         Raise shields and warm up the phasers, rather.

  • Dvora824

    We can’t even get along with the other humans and animals on planet earth.  What would we do when meeting other life forms out in the universe?  Kill them?  Enslave them?  Destroy their planets as we are destroying our own?  I love Star Trek too, but even the Enterprise didn’t venture into space until they’d solved the problems of hunger, poverty, war, etc. on earth.  I’m sure that Capt. Picard would NOT have invited earth as we are now to join the Federation!

    • Pointpanic

      Good points, Dvora. In fact, there’s a great article in the NOv. 2010 issue of Montly Review by british author and professor Peter Dickens about the “HUmanization of the Cosmos’ and how much of the exploitive practices on Earth would simply be transfereed to space unless we fight for change. I cioncur with you about Capt. Picard.

    • Ben

      The human race has only been around for a few hundred thousand years.  At the current acceleration of resource consumption, we’ll be gone from this planet in a few hundred more.   Even if we learn how to manage resources and control population to extend our viability, there is always the threat of extinction by other means, astroids, local super novae, pandemics, global warming, nuclear winter, and of course the impending demise of the planet as the Sun’s habitable zone drifts past the Earth’s orbit and boils off the oceans.

      At some point, finding other worlds to live on won’t be a moral question.  It’ll be a question of survival of the human race.  

      • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

        “Even if we learn how to manage resources and control population to extend our viability, there is always the threat of extinction by other means, astroids…”

        But we can use Preparation H for astroids.   ;-)

  • Raven

    What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to
    cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of
    all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless,
    but disastrous.


    • Yoram Mail

      Your views are shortsighted. I’d rather persue the doable space travel survival of the species method, than be an earthbound sitting duck waiting till doomsday for peace and love on earh.

      • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

        In fact, it is the neo-religious faith in technology that has always been shortsighted, since all technology can do is expand the reach and power of its human masters. As long as it is our nature to destroy, then our technologies will do so better, faster and more broadly.

        What is far-sighted is to understand that our problems are not technical but ethical and spiritual. Until we deal with those, technology will only make matters worse (as the historical record demonstrates).

  • Terry Tree Tree

    Roswell, N.M. 1947, ‘Chariot of the Gods’ archaeological evidence, reports of U.F.O. s, since recorded history, and verbal-history accounts?  The caller can be SURE that we haven’t been visited by ET?

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       This is why we need better science education–to make it clear that such wild claims are nonsense.

      • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

        On Wednesday, May 9th 2001, over twenty military, intelligence, government, corporate and scientific witnesses came forward at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to establish the reality of UFOs or extraterrestrial vehicles, extraterrestrial life forms, and resulting advanced energy and propulsion technologies.

        • ElfmanNW

          You mean out of a population of over
          300 million they could only find 20 space cadets? That number
          surprises me. I bet there are at least 1000 times that many
          residents in in mental hospitals in my state alone.

          • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

            They now have more than 500 former military, intelligence, FAA and other high-level specialists who have all come forward to offer their testimony and present evidence, including audio and video tapes, computer printouts, records of radar intercepts, etc.

            They’re almost all retired, because they were sworn to secrecy and, in some cases, physically threatened not to reveal this information.

            These are the most sane people on earth.

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

             The friend of my baby sitter’s neighbor once said. . .

          • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

            If you can’t differentiate between the credibility of a unnamed friend of your baby sitter and a Lt. Colonel (retired) in the Special Investigations Division or a retired FAA head of Accident Investigations, then I can understand where many of your opinions come from.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Riley/100000110692247 Mark Riley

            Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum killed some aliens once. I saw it on the history channel.

    • Ben

      Ancient Nordic ruins show fortress entrances that are perfectly aligned with the earths axis over long distances.  But when ancient Peruvians make similar lines, they need alien assistance to pull it off.  Do you not see the inherent racism in this crackpot brownpeople + aliens = pyramids theory?  I guess racism and gullibility are probably linked, since both involve the tendancy to create wild assumptions based on little to no evidence.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        I outgrew racism and chauvinism DECADES ago.

  • Hooper’s Friend

    There was a time when astronauts took serious risk in advancing space exploration. One can only guess at the sacrifices needed to achieve interstellar pursuits. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C2STBLZJK4VKQBV27DVQX3I6CU FAX68

    The only place on earth that is unexplored?
    We still don’t know what’s lurking in the vastness of the deep sea. They said that Aliens are more likely to hide in deep waters than hiding in Area 51.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C2STBLZJK4VKQBV27DVQX3I6CU FAX68

    Fermi’s Paradox created the arguement if Aliens if they are here or not but the Zoo Hypothesis will surely explain everything.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C2STBLZJK4VKQBV27DVQX3I6CU FAX68

    50 Billion galaxies and our milkyway is only a drop in the cosmic sea. Do you think Aliens will still use Radio waves to communicate with us what if they don’t use radio waves to communicate with other Aliens. A different frequency that humans hasn’t discovered yet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=710907425 James N Powell

    A major assumption here is that by thinking about going into space, we can improve life here, even if the voyage never takes place.

    So, the entire project is based on thought and application of that thought.

    There is another way to approach this, however. Rather than engaging in thought, those engaged in this project should be trained how to go beyond thought to the field of pure awareness from whence all thoughts issue.

    This has great practical advantages in such a project. First the field of pure awareness is beyond time and space. One could say it is ontologically prior to time/space. Thus, when one opens oneself to pure awareness, one realizes that one is always already at the goal. As one tantric scripture states: What is here is everywhere. What is ot here is nowhere.

    So, those engaged in this project should first of all gain the ability to really be here. To really be here, one must realize pure awareness — beyond thought.

    Then, having gained the ability to function from the level of pure awarenss, which is at the source of thought, thinking and planning in this project will have the support of unbounded awareness.

    Otherwise, the entire project will remain mired in the field of thought, which cannot even comprehend the true nature of anuthing.

    The knower must know him or her-self first and most fundamentally. Without knowing the self, which is pure arwareness, there is no real basis for knowledge or action.

    James N. Powell

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       Go beyond thought?  You mean die, right?

      • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

        Awareness must be a challenge for you.

  • Michael Hammerschlag

    Great, Pentagon funded. This is where the ET’s start debating eradicating the infection. Seriously though, we are doing a very good job- about to write a piece on Earth 2100, when 1.5 billion live on Earth. Doubt we’ll be doing too much star travel- the First Great Famine, or Bird Flu will pretty effectively wipe out civilization.

    That said, you can easily go up to 90% of the speed of light before relativistic effects come into play- interstellar gas resistance + it’s radiation are limiting factors.

  • Beta

    Why do we hear the same lazy comment over and over again: “Why spend money on this when there are problems on Earth?”

    Stop it, already, It’s neither original nor insightful. Spending 1/2 million on a prospective 100-year project is not going to have any negative impact on whatever other issues one might think are “more important”.

    Put another way, this year’s federal budget is 3.8 trillion, with about 1/3 of that spent on what is broadly and euphemistically termed “defense”. This project represents less than one seven-millionth of the federal budget.

    We all know there are lots of big problems. There always have been, and always will be. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t spend some time considering how we want to develop new things for today and tomorrow.

    • Roy Mac

      We hear the comment because there is never a convincing response, which is always some variant of, “Well, because this is SO important that it deserves special consideration!”

      And maybe it truly does; except that people relying on that response are nearly always zealots who refuse to understand the counter-arguments:  like today’s guest.  She’s clearly smart and visionary, and doesn’t have a clue about the way to persuade people who aren’t.

    • Pointpanic

      Beta,what we’re not hearing is how it could exacerbate the problems on Earth. We’re not hearing about who benefits and who dosen’t from these  “privatized “Space ventures that are wrapped up in the rhetoric of “can do spirit” and “American entrepenuership”. It’s not to NPR’s credit that such questions have not been raised.

    • Beta

      Thanks for the responses above. I think perhaps what people are objecting to is the huge amount that it would cost to actually BUILD an interstellar probe, were we to do it today. This project is not about that. It’s about doing the thinking and research. Getting knowledgeable and interested people together, many in their spare time, to share their expertise and apply it to an interesting and tough challenge with numerous potential benefits. We spend far more on technological projects which have far less to recommend them (eg. weaponized drones, ubiquitous surveillance, missile defense boondoggles).

      I agree that the jingoism, which we Americans spew without thinking, gets pretty old. “American can-do spirit”, “Manifest Destiny” and all that nation-state nonsense. I agree as well that privatization must be balanced by openness and accountability, as with all projects that receive taxpayer funding or have a bearing on the public good. Beyond that, I don’t really see how this project would “exacerbate problems on Earth”. Fusion power is already weaponized. Sadly, the military has always been a big driver of technological development and research. Nevertheless, this project is by all accounts exploratory and scientific in nature. 

      Basically, even if this craft were built, it wouldn’t happen for a long time, perhaps 1/2 a century from now. Especially if we are hoping to make use of He3, we will need to have established the off-world infrastructure necessary to gather it.

      A society which had the resources to make such a craft would be very advanced, technologically. It would presumably have an economy very different from (and much bigger than) any single country today. Hopefully it would be advanced in socio-economic terms, as well.

      It’s possible to pursue a brighter future in different ways. This can be one of them, a project to unite and inspire our descendants. I support and participate in progressive causes and actions, and I support this effort as well, as a small but important way to help build a better world.

      • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

        “It’s about doing the thinking and research…an interesting and tough challenge with numerous potential benefits.”

        What benefits? Especially when weighed against the diversion of talents and energy from real and pressing needs?

        To defend it because it’s less wasteful than the worst of our technological enterprises hardly makes a case.

        “it wouldn’t happen for a long time, perhaps 1/2 a century from now.”

        And, by mid-century, we may be facing a 6°C global temperature rise which will make the earth all-but uninhabitable, which makes any such speculative diversion of effort something of a crime. 

        “A society which had the resources to make such a craft would be very advanced, technologically. It would presumably have an economy…much bigger than any single country today. Hopefully it would be advanced in socio-economic terms, as well.”

        Hope doesn’t make a ball roll uphill. We are facing global economic, political and sociological collapse precisely because of our overuse of complex and highly energy-intensive technologies coupled with an abysmal lack of foresight in their implementation and use. It is simply neither rational nor ethical to “hope” that things will continue to “progress” along the same trajectory which has brought us to the edge of the abyss.

        “It’s possible to pursue a brighter future in different ways…a small but important way to help build a better world.”

        First, that requires a determination of what “brighter” or “better” really means. Second, it requires that we discern the causes of our current global malaise and stop participating in the paradigm and trajectory that brought us to this place. And third, in this time of immanent collapse, and perhaps human extinction, we need to keep our focus and efforts – all of them – on remediating our current crises. Anything else is somewhere between irresponsible and suicidal.

  • ElfmanNW

    First this $500 thousand is about enough to hire a skeleton staff, rent office space, print up business cards, brochures, stationary, etc., set up a web site, and in general employ a few people for a year or two.

    Second when people bring up all the benefits in technology advancement that resulted from the space programs up to date, as well as the knowledge gained, what they don’t mention is that virtually all of that would have come about without any manned missions at a small fraction of the cost.

    That said, funding of research into many of the technological challenges presented by the idea of inter-stellar travel is a great idea. The ability to live in a totally recyclable manner, new energy sources (fusion?), advances in understanding of genetics and diseases such as cancer, . . ..  All great stuff, but when Republicans are so obsessed with cutting taxes even below currently historical levels and reducing seniors to eating cat food, if they don’t die quick enough from lack of access to health care,  this is not going to be funded by the government.  And when people like those at Bain Capital, who are not interested in creating anything except quick financial rewards for themselves, are the model of free enterprise for the GOP this investment isn’t going to come from the private sector either.  

    • Roy Mac

      Couldn’t agree more.  Yes, we have cell phones and GPS and Tang; the loaded cost for all 3 is probably about $100 billion, all on the taxpayers’ tab.  The larger question, which is uniformly ignored, is what OUGHT to have been discovered for the enourmous cost in US tax money and lives.

      After 45 years and who knows how much treasure, shouldn’t we have a moon base and a mission to Mars?  It seems that pretty much all we have is several tens of thousands of civil servants who have managed to retire very comfortably at the taxpayers’ expense.  And what do they have to leave as a legacy?  A flag on the surface of the moon.

      • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

        “And what do they have to leave as a legacy?  A flag on the surface of the moon.”

        And a lot of trash which we seem accustomed to leaving behind wherever we travel.

    • Wm. James from Missouri

      Your comments about funding are apropos but I am not convinced that things would have turned out the same without “manned missions “ . When you look back on history and ask why did particular countries or groups create the technological wonders that they did, you realize that it was very often due to outside competitors or enemies that threatened the empower elites. Hitler and Japan forced the US and Great Britain to be more than they would have been otherwise. Bletchly Park, computers ,radar, sonar, subs, jet aircraft… . The Soviet Union forced the Moon race, etc. . I am not suggesting that anyone bring back anything like these groups to propel progress. But I do think we would be wise to always act as if we are being challenged by someone or something, if only to prevent such groups from becoming an actuality.

  • rbrtwjohnson

    The future of mankind is in space. In case of a global disaster, the long-term survival of the human race will depend on means to go away from Earth. Moreover, the Earth’s natural resources, vital to the survival and development of the human population, will not last forever due to ever growing demands of a hungry world population. It is time to seek for new resources on other planets. I think going beyond the low-Earth orbit, settling moon bases and extraterrestrial colonies out there, will be a steadier step for a long-term survival of the human species and civilization. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSkxPghXTCg

    • nj_v2

      When asked if he thought humans could be successful in space, Buckminster Fuller responded, “Dammit, we are in space!”

      I’m not sure what kind of baseless, wishful thinking allows one to think, especially given the history of human exploitation and foible, that success is always somewhere “out there,” just around some ever closer corner.

      If we can’t be successful here, on the only known planet capable of supporting a wide diversity of life; rife with oxygen; functioning, highly complex bio/nutrient/waste recycling systems; plants that convert air, sunlight, and water to food…why in hell do you think we can do it somewhere else, where none of these life essentials are provided, and mere survival is orders of magnitude more difficult?

      • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

        Because it is a great irony of evolution that the larger our frontal cortex the greater our stupidity.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Riley/100000110692247 Mark Riley

        It is the difficulty of living that causes us to make it less difficult. Do you really think that we can’t live in a place where Adam & Eve did? Just wait until genetic engineering is in its prime.

    • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

      The only reason we’re facing so many global crises is because of the paradigm of exploitation of ever-expanding frontiers after we trash the ones we live in.

      Continuing the same paradigm to find other planets to ruin after we’ve used this one up, is the height of ignorance, arrogance and some version of insanity.

      Isn’t it, rather, time to grow up as a species and stop living like petulant adolescents?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Riley/100000110692247 Mark Riley

        There is more space than you can imagine in this universe. We will not use it up as we have used fossil fuels on our Earth.

        • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

          Actually, the volume of space and its total mass/energy is known and measurable.

          But what’s the point of running forever away from our own responsibility? Merely to prove that we are Peter Pans who will never grow up?

  • Wm. James from Missouri

    Interstellar travel near the speed of light with current propulsion systems is only possible for very, very small space craft. It will be the miniaturization of very intelligent, robotic-like devices, that are capable of self-organization and replication, with and without modification that will allow humanity to colonize the Universe. These devices will be able to communicate information back to Earth at the speed of light. The information will be densely encoded with all the information necessary for a modified ( enhanced ) human brain to see, feel, touch, hear and “ know” the environment that was witnessed by the “super-bots”. They will even “know “ the questions that we will ask when we get to these strange destinations !

    I would like to repeat an older comment by mentioning that Ray Kurzweil and others have stated ( I paraphrase from memory ) that a cube of nano-tubes has more computing potential than ONE HUNDRED MILLION HUMAN MINDS. It will be through the interfacing of devices like these that Man will come to know the stars.

  • Jim Mayor

    To Tom Ashbrook: I am terribly dismayed that neither you nor any of your guests or callers (and nothing serous from these comments) seriously question the role of the military in all of this. I repeat WHY IS THE MILITARY FUNDING THIS STUDY?

    You know the answer and it does not bode well for mankind or whomever would be at the other end of this space trip.

    Now as for the possibility of sending humans to another star system? Of course, and we could quite possibly do that today. How? 1) a self-sustaining space ship; 2) computers with learning programs; 3) robotics to sustain everything; 4) some frozen human ova and sperm.

    Of course this is relative simplistic, but think about it. Being self-sustaining and not needing life-support, time is not relevant so travel times of many, many years would be acceptable. At the end of the journey the robotics could thaw the sperm and ova, fertilize them and raise the offspring. Now a life-support system would have to be initiated, of course and the computers could do all the instructing to train appropriate intelligence. (They could even weed out the humans not meeting ceratin standards for efficiency.) So what is missing? Oh, yes, nurturing as science has shown that nurturing is a desirable part of child-rearing. But let’s rethink that, because I doubt that nurturing improves a soldier’s ability to follow orders, in fact, it sort of seems counterintuitive to basic training.

    • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

      I suspect the guest on this program was raised by robots.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Riley/100000110692247 Mark Riley

         Must be part of Google’s AI program.

        • http://riversong.wordpress.com/ Robert Riversong

          We’re all part of Google’s AI program. Google’s goal is to connect all our little brains into one megabrain and take over the universe.

          Then, just when things look really dark on Earth, Google will say “Let there be light” and there will be light.

    • Grandpadewey

      Ever serve in the military yourself?

  • Mottst

    The Songs of Distant Earth – Arthur C. Clark – 1986 

  • jose amram

    I listened to the show, Dr Jemison was very interesting, inspiring and eloquent. That said, I believe the 100 yr spaceship to be a good idea, for perhaps 100 years from now. For the time being, we should concentrate our efforts in space to continuing robotic missions to asteroids, planets and beyond, based on our experience and successes with this technology.
    The human exploration of MARS should be a priority, with help from our space partners (Russia and all the European partners presently involved), as this is within our reach specially with propulsion technology offered by AdAstra, the confined fusion rocket engine, which would reduce the time to Mars to approximately 40 days one way! This is a realistic goal, and the next logical step for a space exploration program. We as humans need to continue to explore our solar system, which will always generate new technology and a wealth of information about our stellar neighborhood. If humankind ever evolves to the point where we can leave our solar system, then the 100+ year spaceship would make sense.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ADZ6TZZKHWRLDNAOP6R2MBBP6A Bob S

    I have always wondered why, with a few notable exceptions, the elites in the U.S. (the 1%, the ruling class, or whatever they are called now) appear completely unconcerned about the problems we are facing both here in the U.S. and globally. We have an unsustainable economic system that has given us everything from a cancer epidemic, to global climate change, over-population, toxins in the food chain, lack of clean drinking water, wide-spread poverty, unemployment, terrorism, and so on. And they just pretend that everything is just fine as long as we, the 99%, keep going to the shopping mall.

    Could it be that the elites have given up on Earth and are instead focusing on securing an exit strategy for themselves and few carefully selected servants for the time when the Earth becomes an uninhabitable, toxic waste dump?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Riley/100000110692247 Mark Riley

      Some of Earth’s greatest technologies were developed in space. The design of the Hubble telescope has contributed to image processing that has helped to identify breast cancer in early patients. Over-population? Why not live on the moon? There is a lot of land there. Global climate change? Why not change Mars’ climate so we can live there too? Space travel is not inhibiting human life. It is enhancing it. Clean drinking water? There is plenty of untouched water on asteroids in our solar system. Hopefully the 1%ers at Planetary Resources can help us get there as well as helping the Earth’s economy with jobs.

      You ask if Earth will become an uninhabitable, toxic waste dump. No, it is just a stepping stone to the progress of humans. Our minds will transcend this planet and move to the stars. We will return to what we are made of: star dust.

  • Al Kidder

    So you get your spacecraft up to 10% of light speed and off it goes….how are you going to slow it down again. Without checking the arithmetic of gravitation, I can tell you that if you aim to put an object at 10% of light speed into orbit around a star, that orbit is going to be so close that it fries.

  • Stu Pedassel

    One thing with the “space sail,” if it’s powered by a huge solar laser, anybody give some thought as to how it’s going to make a return trip?

  • Rick D

    “The Garden of Rama” and related books speak of an alien race that sends a global-size cylinder into our solar system. Artificial gravity, entire city, gardens, etc. inside. Should we not be considering this to send a large piece of civilization to another star system, and the craft stay in use? I don’t think sending a DNA slush or a few luckless astronauts on a one-way, unsustainable trip to nowhere.

    I support this but it’s an adventure that needs a lot of thought.

  • MikeG999

    Cathedrals were built to the glory of God, not as an artistic expression to future generations.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      MOSTLY built to glorify the one that financed the building, or forced the slaves to build it?

  • Warren

    Light travels at 186,000 miles per second.The shuttle escapes at 25,000 mph(not seconds) and travels at 15,000 mph.You better rename them “zillion year starships”.On a more positive note,Scotty used to get the Enterprise up to Warp ten.Sure the Dilithium Crystals got a tad shaky,but hope springs eternal.Keep the EPA out of our Laboratories and the Lassez Faire types will solve the puzzle

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Lazy Fairies only solve the question of how to get to other Lazy Fairies?

  • Pablo

    I’m thinking Mae and other proponents of space travel spent too much time watching Star Trek as kids.  Time to grow up realize that living on earth is enough. 

    It’s the same way I feel about climbing Mt Everest….if one can get there without an oxygen tank, then, go. Otherwise stay home and enjoy gazing at the peak and/or the stars.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1421666010 Wilbur Blount

      Yeah, and they used to have to split you from sternum to stomach, break your rib cage and split you open like a lobster just to perform heart surgery.  Now they do it with an incisision the size of a quarter.  It’s called progress and of course we should push the envelope!

  • RandyJ

    I think that having aspirational, generational science projects for society are exactly what we need for humanity to get its act together on many fronts.  People can say that x, y ,z cannot be done today so let’s not even try;  but, reaching the destination is not what is important for us to reap the benefits of preparing for such a grand endeavor.   What we gain from preparation for this major goal will have real world impact on Earth in education, science, technology, sociology, psychology, energy etc… It’s the journey and the knowledge we will need to acquire to accomplish that task that will benefit humanity.

       Just like having a project for school kids can get them to be more engaged in a topic.  Having a project for society can get everyone more engaged in the learning and positive changes necessary to accomplish the goal.  Kids would want to go to University specifically to work on certain project goals.  Sparking people’s imagination, especially that of children, will pave the way for future innovations in many varied topics.
       Society seriously setting, and reaching for long term goals of this magnitude will propel society forward into a better world on Earth, and possibly space.

  • Wm. James from Missouri

    From : http://www.ted.com/talks/seth_shostak_et_is_probably_out_there_get_ready.html

    Title : Seth Shostak: ET is (probably) out there — get ready

    Seth Shostak says that he believes that we will make “First (one way ) Contact” with an alien intelligence within 24 years, and that “they” will be very advanced compared to us, maybe a thousand years ahead or even something like one million years ahead of us, thereby allowing us to ‘ leap’ ahead in our technology. I think his general argument is correct, however, I would not bet on 24 years though ( 50 years? Yes, if Moore’s Law holds up over those 50 years. )

    If Mr. Shostak is correct. ET will tell us how to go to the stars but then again, they might choose to eat us : ) or should I end with ; (


  • Elapab

    Quantum Mechanics is not applicable to this project. Schrödinger’s wave equation is true but it is a  paradox. Both reality will not exists at same time. 100 year star ship is a fun!
    It is a wastage of money. Lot of other things can be possible with this money for the humanity.

  • Wm. James from Missouri

    One of the quest on this show said that we will not have a “Star Trek”; “Starship like “ space craft within a hundred years. Ray Kurzweil says that this ( 21st) century will produce technological gains that compare to those, relatively speaking, that were produced in the last 10,000 years ( due to compounding of technological benefits ) ! [I paraphrase from memory.] Too many people are living in the past and have far too many preconceived notions of what is possible.

    Although I am very pro robot at this time, I want to say to Ms. Mae Jemison ; You go girl !

  • Garyr46953

    It’s not “possible” it’s inevitable. It’s well on the way. 

  • http://www.thehistoryofthings.com/ g. martinez cabrera

    Sometimes when I hear people dismiss this kind of program, I get a rush of both hatred and depression.  I understand the idea that we need to fix our problems right here on Earth, but there has to be some room for dreaming and imagining.  Not that this is a dream in the negative sense of the word.  

  • rich4321

    I am totally for space exploration. My question is howcome we have no will or commitment to explore the inner space such as the deep ocean. We live on this planet but there are so much we do not know about our deep ocean. NASA receives huge amount of funding but NOAA receives and NOAA is an ignore agency by the media.

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    This comment is very late to this program, but it may prove useful to someone in the future.

    “Just the mineral wealth of the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter could be equivalent to about $100 billion for every person on Earth, according to “Mining the Sky

    from :


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