Wednesday, May 23, 2012

100-year starship projects

Tonight, High Power Rocketry points us to a proposed fantasy-scale project that would Build the Enterprise.   The term fantasy-scale, borrowed from NAR contest rocketry, implies a flying model of a fictional or proposed, but unflown, subject.  The term fantasy further implies because the scope of the project will ensure that it doesn't happen - the first phase (Gen1) alone would cost almost a trillion dollars (excluding launch costs) and would weigh some 187 million pounds.  However, it is a fascinating mental exercise and the scope and depth of the web site is quite impressive.  Most of the material is for the Gen1 version, which would be developed over a 20 year period, but a roadmap is provided for 4 generations spanning 100 years.

Meanwhile, DARPA has a brand spanking new 100-year starship initiative of their own: 100YSS.
HOUSTON, TX, May 17, 2012 -- The Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence has been selected by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to receive seed funding to form 100 Year Starship (100YSS), an independent, non-governmental, long-term initiative which will ensure that the capabilities for human interstellar flight exist as soon as possible, and definitely within the next 100 years. The winning 100YSS proposal, “An Inclusive, Audacious Journey Transforms Life Here on Earth and Beyond,” was created by Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence with team members Icarus Interstellar and the Foundation for Enterprise Development.
I added the links in the press release to provide more info of who is behind 100YSS. Former Astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison, who runs the Dorthy Jemison Foundation, should be wired into the mainstream space complex and Icarus Interstellar brings a lot of technical depth and the heritage of the British Interplanetary Society.  This will be fun to follow, although I am still hotter on near term new-space.  SpaceX, Armadillo, Masten, Virgin, Bigelow, Stratolaunch and even Planetary Resources will be doing more cool and amazing  stuff in the not so distant future.  Still, knowing that someone is seriously pursuing starships makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Project Bifrost concept art by Adrian Mann, via DiscoveryNews