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DARPA Chooses Leader For 100-Year Starship Project

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the make-it-so dept.

NASA 180

Hugh Pickens writes "With Nasa scaling back its manned space programs, the idea of a manned trip to the stars may sound audacious, but the 100 Year Starship (100YSS) study is an effort seeded by DARPA to develop a viable and sustainable model for persistent, long-term, private-sector investment into the myriad of disciplines needed to make long-distance space travel practicable and feasible. The goal is not to have the government fund the actual building of spacecraft destined for the stars, but rather to create a foundation that can last 100 years in order to help foster the research needed for interstellar travel. Now DARPA has provided $500,000 in seed money to help jumpstart the effort and chosen Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to go into space, to lead 100YSS. Jemison, who is also a physician and engineer, left NASA in 1993 after a six-year stint in which she served as science mission specialist aboard space shuttle Endeavour, becoming the first black woman to fly in space. Since leaving the space agency, she has been involved in education and outreach efforts and technology development. Rounding out her resume, Jemison also served as a medical officer for the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone and Liberia, is a professionally trained dancer, speaks Russian, Swahili and Japanese, and was the first real astronaut to make a cameo in an episode of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation.' Jemison won the contract with her proposal titled 'An Inclusive Audacious Journey Transforms Life Here on Earth & Beyond.'"

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My Awesome Bio (3, Informative)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622136)

This reads like a bio of Jemison and her funding opportunities. News?

Re:My Awesome Bio (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622314)

This reads like a bio of Jemison and her funding opportunities. News?

And now you know why our space program has gone entirely off the rails. We may not have manned space flight any longer - but we sure have diversity!

Re:My Awesome Bio (-1, Flamebait)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622610)

Oh this is why it went entirely off the rails, huh? Take your racist bullshit back to stormfront, or whatever sewer you crawled out of.

Re:My Awesome Bio (2, Insightful)

mikkelm (1000451) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623058)

The guy is right. Why must they mention her race twice? Race wouldn't even have crossed the minds of those of us not familiar with the person, had it not been highlighted. Forget loud-mouthed bigots; this is true racism. For these people, race is considered relevant in everything as a matter of course, as long as the person of interest is a minority.

Re:My Awesome Bio (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623516)

No, actually the guy is a racist moron. No where is that OP lamenting the fact that her race had to be pointed out. He's saying the reason the manned space program went to hell was because of "diversity" which is dog whistle language for "affirmative action". We say "the first man in space, the first Israeli in space, etc; so what's wrong with pointing out that this was the first black female to go in to space?

Re:My Awesome Bio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38624002)

Quite a lot actually. These forms of "identification" with race, religion and nationality cause division, as this thread proves. We are either one people or a bunch of different groups competing. Make your choice, just don't call people who think we should be one people racist.

The original explorers who developed the trade routes were experts in their field, navigation and sailing. The outfitted their ships with those whose skills would support the mission. A lot of the decisions were political, even back in the 15th century and the exploration was just as daunting.

There is a huge problem though. NASA's bureaucratic process. When I worked with NASA we were told we had to imagine every potential issue and then make everything idiot proof. You take a very competent person and their competence is insurance in an idiot proof situation. The problem is that this kind of exploration can't be idiot proof.

In the end NASA needs to choose an egotistical know-it-all prick with a history of getting the job done without support regardless of the situation because unlike Apollo 13 there won't be any ground support telling the crew how to fix the problem.

People like that do not make it in the bureaucracy that is NASA. People like that typically succeed moderately in the private sector. This will be a wash, the bureaucracy can't pick someone like that so even if they launch a mission it will fail.

Re:My Awesome Bio (1)

awrowe (1110817) | more than 2 years ago | (#38624146)

I had a fat finger problem and moderated your answer "redundant" instead of "insightful". Invalidating the moderation, sorry.

This should have been done a long time ago (1)

teknx (2547472) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622154)

I've heard arguments that the space program should have never been put in the hands of government in the first place. If it had been left to the private-sector from day one, space travel would be the norm by now because of the competitive aspect of the private sector and the ability to raises more capital than going the bureaucratic route.

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622198)

If the private sector took care of it we would not have had Chicks in Space. No man wants to hear "where is the handle on this vacuum I keep hearing about?" a thousand times a day

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (5, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622358)

Bullshit.

The private sector STILL can't get a man into space. If it had been left to the private sector "from day one", the US would never have had anyone try, because the private sector never would have put forth the R&D money to get anything done.

Scaling back NASA is a result of small-minded fools from the right wing who scream "cut cut cut everything we like yeah military!!!" They want to kill PBS, they want to kill NASA, they call numerous things "government waste", but they never want to admit that the biggest waste of government money is sending the US military everywhere to be the world's policeman, wasting $500 billion a year to invade countries, set up military bases, and bomb the fuck out of places where nobody wants us.

PBS gets $422 million currently. That is 0.084 PERCENT of what we waste on the military.
NASA's annual budget is only $19 billion in 2011. And for that you get all this stuff that you fucking take for granted [thesun.co.uk] .

We should say fuck the military, stop buying them new toys, and spend the money on NASA instead. We'd be to Mars in 5 years if we budgeted it.

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622554)

2011 Military budget 600 billion

Welfare, medicare, social security, education etc. $2.7 trillion+

NASA budget $18billion

We are already cutting the military so here is a crazy idea how about cut two weeks of "entitlements" and you can expand the NASA budget by 5-6 times.

Or better than that instead of all the BULLSHIT bailouts that went to Wallstreet as well as the gov't worker Unions (fire, police, teachers, etc) they could have spent that 1.4 trillion they pissed away on political payouts (stimulus) and we could have expanded the NASA budge 78 times. I wonder how much that would have STIMULATED the economy?

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (2)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622618)

2011 military budget, actually $683 Billion. I took off personnel ($154 billion) and rounded down to the nearest $100 billion since SOME maintenance of bases, equipment, and so on would be necessary. The rest? Oh yeah, first we WASTE money bombing someone back to the stone age, then we WASTE more money putting a military base in their country and WASTE more money sending "foreign aid" to rebuild the place we just WASTED money bombing the shit out of.

Welfare, medicare, SS, Education $2.7 Trillion - but unlike the military that actually cycles right back into the economy. Money spent on welfare goes straight to food and housing for actual humans. Money spent on medicare goes to the medical care of actual humans. Social Security goes into food and housing for elderly humans.

Education goes into raising the next generation of humans to be (hopefully) functioning members of society - though in your case it appears not to have worked. Oh and yeah, it pays mostly for the money to pay the teachers to teach the kids (though I personally would say fuck high school/ college sports, especially the basketball and football programs that are the government wasting a fucking ton of money subsidizing the hell out of the NBA and NFL by running their minor leagues for them).

As for the Wall Street bailouts, I agree. Put all that money to NASA instead and we'd be far better off than if it were in bankers' pockets.

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (4, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622822)

but unlike the military that actually cycles right back into the economy

Where exactly does military spending go, if not right back into the economy?

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (2)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622916)

Wasted resources.
Bombing someone = wasted resources.
Fired bullets = wasted resources.
Crashed planes, fuel, all the rest = wasted resources we're not going to get back.

Military spending is almost ALL wasted resources. You think 3500 Tomahawk missiles, a cost ot $2.6 Billion, is anything but wasted resources? And that's JUST the Tomahawks, not all the bombs and missiles (most of which cost significantly more).

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623044)

Except that people (presumably Americans) get *paid* to make (from mining the ore to writing the software) those Tomahawks. That money goes into the economy.

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623072)

Except that people (presumably Americans) get *paid* to make (from mining the ore to writing the software) those Tomahawks. That money goes into the economy.

Except that the "pay", labor, is an infinitesimal fraction of the "cost" of those Tomahawks. And the material resources placed into them are destroyed, rarely recovered. Just as the lives that they take are unrecoverable, and the things that they are used to destroy - which usually amounts to a village, house, or the water supply for the immediate region - then cost even MORE material resources to restore.

It's waste. Pure and simple.

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623144)

Precision guided weapons were designed for the sole purpose of not having to bomb villages, houses and water supplies.

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623474)

And we've seen how often they actually worked as designed.
And how often the retarded "blow everything up" Rambo fucktards of the US military just targeted villages, houses, and water supplies anyways.

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623582)

What are you, an asshole?

Every gun that is fired, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. [wikipedia.org]

It's not the cost of a missile. It's the opportunity cost of a missile. As well as the cost of human life. Do you have any idea how many civilians have been killed by US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last ten years?

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38624490)

Er... quite a few?

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (1)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623778)

If we didn't have them, we would be less likely to launch strikes on defenseless countries. Look at where the Tomahawk has been used since its deployment. The few launches that were necessary were largely unsuccessful, and would have been better accomplished with a couple dozen SEALs on helicopters.

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623882)

we would be less likely to launch strikes on defenseless countries.

That "defenseless country" needs, like all of us, to know who it's getting in bed with before it gets in bed with them.

better accomplished with a couple dozen SEALs on helicopters.

But we're all so terrified of American casualties!! (Oh my, I think I'm going to faint.. [girlish swoon])

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 2 years ago | (#38624282)

Broken window fallacy.

Of course, the other fallacy is stating that killing people has no value. Somebody wanted those people dead, and the weapons were made and used to do so, so they must have been worth their cost.

The problem is... who the fuck values killing people in third world shitholes so highly, and why are they calling the shots for our military instead of the American people?

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623030)

Back to economy? Are you kidding me?
You don't earn a single penny bombing out places in Afghanistan.
They don't even have oil.

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (1)

triclipse (702209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622568)

That $422M given to PBS is a powerful pro-war propaganda "investment."

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (5, Informative)

Scarred Intellect (1648867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622748)

The waste isn't necessarily the military.

It's General Dynamics and Fluor and countless other DOD contractors. My time in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine Infantryman was beyond understandably austere. Larger bases has clean flush toilets, clean showers every day, fresh cooked food every day including pop (soda) and ice cream. They had Pizza Hut, Burger King, Subway, Green Beans coffee, movie theaters, dance night... Reliable communication back home. Mail delivery every day. Gyms. And electricity. We shat in bags and burned it. We were able to shower at most once a week. Our Staff NCO's had to pay out of their own pocket to get a water pump that worked. We usually lacked air conditioning or heat in our bunks...

All that we lacked is understandable and doesn't bother me at all. What bothered me was that the POG's had it, and bitched if they lost it like it was their right to have it while we ate stuff I wouldn't feed to my dogs.

When it was suggested by a Marine General in charge of such things that they cut back on these MWR (Morale, Welfare, Recreation) activities in Stars and Stripes, there was outlandish backlash from POG's (Person Other than Grunt) about how it would affect them and how they needed these services. Nevermind that he wanted to cut them back to divert the funding for these activities to us that were farther deployed and had practically none of that.

Virtually all of these services are provided by civilian DOD contractors. I think the largest compound in Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan was the Fluor compound.

While there IS waste in military spending, it dwarfs compared to what is spent on unnecessary contractors. Hell, they built a golf course in Baghdad for the Generals to play golf!

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623064)

Slow down there cowboy. Yeah, we contractors are expensive, but that's because we have white collar engineering/science degrees, and didn't sign up to be body fodder.

You can bitch all you want, but other branches get better treatment than the marines as well (look at the air force), something to do with character building.

At the end of the day, I work to keep you from coming come in a little plastic baggy thanks to assymmetrical warfare, so a "Thanks" would be more appropriate.

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623518)

"ass"ymmetrical warfare, indeed.

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623606)

WTF, don't talk down to your soldiers like that. They should leave people like you unguarded on the battlefield ... 'nuff said ...

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622802)

Scaling back NASA is a result of small-minded fools from the right wing

Except that the people who actually scaled back NASA were left-wingers who wanted to give the money to people who produce nothing but more children.

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623192)

"We should say fuck the military"

Reeeeaaaaly? So when, lets say Russia, invades Alaska - not a totally far fetched scenario - we all say, everybody in the US, all 300 million of us, we just say to Russia - "Fuck You" - and they change their mind and go away. That's how its done. Wow.

This sets military history on its ear. So in 1258 Halagu Khan laid siege to Baghdad, Caliph Al-Musta'sim should have hopped on top of the wall at Wastani Gate and shouted "Neek Hallak" (fuck yourself). And that would have done it. One million people's lives would have been saved. From then on the siege of any city, Jerusalem, Constantinople would have been lifted and sent the invading army, chastised, home with its tail between its legs. Warfare as the world has known it for thousands of years would have been altered to the utterance of a simple phrase. Do they have to say "please" with that or just "fuck you". And should they shout it, wisper it, put it to music?

Damn, we have all been so stupid. Why didn't Azemilcus, Hideyoshi, or Sun Tzu think of that. France could have saved a shitload of francs and not built the Maginot Line. Maurice Gamelin could have just driven to Sedan, hopped out of his touring car, and what? put out his hand like a traffic cop and said in a clear voice "fuck you" to Heinz Guderian and halted the invasion of France.

Moryath, you should be running for president. You've got my vote. You are a shoe in for the Nobel. What a massive intellect. Truly.

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (4, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623440)

Do we need to bomb Iraq back to the stone age in order to defend Alaska?
Do we need to bomb Afghanistan back to the stone age in order to defend Alaska?
Do we need to invade Libya in order to defend Alaska?
Do we need to have soldiers in over 1000 military bases in countries around the world, most of who don't want us there, to defend Alaska, Hawaii, and the continental US from invasion?

No. That's what I mean by WASTE. The military, to fulfill its actual, Constitutionally mandated role of protecting the borders of the US against actual enemies, needs less than 10% of the toys they have WASTED taxpayer money on since WW2.

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38624112)

"Do we need to bomb Iraq back to the stone age in order to defend Alaska?"

No of course not, and that's why Iraq has more major infrastructure improvements today than in the last 30 years. Why using Google Earth and Terra Server I count 6 new highway overpasses and vast areas of new housing, for example at 3324'50.68"N, 4422'18.93"E and 3321'13.30"N, 4417'54.54"E. Iraq has more electricity production than it did 12 years ago, http://www.indexmundi.com/g/g.aspx?c=iz&v=79.

And as far as bombing goes, the Shiites and Sunnis are doing a pretty good job of bombing themselves back to the stone age despite the best efforts of dozens of countries to prevent them from doing so. We can only try.

"Do we need to bomb Afghanistan back to the stone age in order to defend Alaska?"

Certainly not. The Soviet Union had pretty much already done that. We seem to be rebuilding Afghanistan: http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PDACG278.pdf

"Do we need to invade Libya in order to defend Alaska?"

We didn't invade Libya. They had a civil war.

"Do we need to have soldiers in over 1000 military bases in countries around the world, most of who don't want us there, to defend Alaska, Hawaii, and the continental US from invasion?"

I count about 205 bases. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_military_bases

As far as wanting us there we wouldn't be there if they didn't want us there. Example: The Philippines asked us to leave and we did. Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_military_bases for bases closed.

As far as fighting wars I kind of think its easier to fight small wars, one at a time than it is to fight a war like WWII where 70 million people all die within a few years, don't you? And using that principle, yes I do think fighting the fights we have fought for the last 50 years has contributed significantly to the security of Alaska and the continental United States.

Look, I realize you are smart and everything, but you are just playing with me, obviously. Lulling me into a false sense of security before you crush me with your overwhelming intellect, right? Please, no more, I beg you.

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38624008)

I'm sorry, do you remember the original gutting of nasa? You know that horrible right wing action known as the civil rights movement?

"You can't put people into space because children are starving."

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 2 years ago | (#38624130)

> The private sector STILL can't get a man into space.

Perhaps you mean "can't get a man into orbit"? Suborbital flights above the altitude defined as the edge of space have happened.

Private sector couldn't do it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622360)

Let's look at the Apollo program [wikipedia.org] .

The costs associated with the Apollo spacecraft and Saturn rockets amounted to about $83-billion in 2005 Dollars

Yeah, many mega-corps have that in cash these days, but try to convince shareholders that a 83 billion dollar project that has a HUGE amount of risk with very little ROI, if any, is a Good Thing. I would sell that stock - fast.

Space travel has very little commercial value at this time and it's a stupid no, idiotic business decision.

Sure there's some crazy geniuses going for it [wikipedia.org] but will they make a viable business out of it or at last give a decent return to investors? Nope. If I'm wrong, I'll eat a Moon rock off of Neill Armstrong's ass.

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (4, Insightful)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622384)

The private sector does stuff for money. The only "Space" thing with a ROI is satellites. The moon and probes would never have happened. Americans have this strange mind set where they think everything should be done by "not the government", even stuff like this where the government is the ONLY realistic solution.

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (2)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623572)

so very true. Government agencies can train people with specialities that private industry would look at as wasteful - but thats because private industries' involvement ends at their front door. There are some things you /cannot/ accomplish alone. Humans are communal. Government is a given.

Privatize-everything-people are either stupid, or control freaks - but they are not as efficient as they want to think in accomplishing greatness. It takes a whole /people/ to do that - Not any one company.

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (1)

jythie (914043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622406)

Unlikely. The private sector tends to do pretty badly with anything that requires sustained long term research before having a return. The first commercial application was communication satellites, but it took decades of research (and failures) before it was possible at a reasonable success rate for private companies to get interested.

I always wonder if the people who put forward that idea have actually worked in research before. I have been on both sides (public and private) and have generally found that they dovetail and the economy moves forward best when they are both doing what they do well.

Re:This should have been done a long time ago (2)

egamma (572162) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623508)

I've heard arguments that the space program should have never been put in the hands of government in the first place. If it had been left to the private-sector from day one, space travel would be the norm by now because of the competitive aspect of the private sector and the ability to raises more capital than going the bureaucratic route.

And what, exactly, has prevented the private sector from putting a man in space the last 50-60 years?

My guess is, a lack of government subsidies.

What can't she do? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622170)

Seriously. This woman reads like "Also she built a time machine, killed Hitler, and fought back the entire Napoleonic army from Moscow." I know a lot of smart people make me feel stupid. This woman just makes me feel lazy.

Re:What can't she do? (1)

jythie (914043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622418)

Heh. Agreed. I had not heard of her before, she seems rather awesome. The TNG cameo is just icing on the cake.

Re:What can't she do? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38624056)

The worst part is that she's also *cute*. If she'd done all that but wasn't, that's one thing, but being cute on top of it all? I'm sorry, that's just too much for one human being to have. From wikipedia:

"Jemison sometimes appears at charity events. In 2007, Jemison walked the runway, wearing Lyn Devon, at the Red Dress Heart Truth fashion show during Fashion Week in New York to help raise money to fight heart disease.[31] Jemison is an active public speaker who appears before private and public groups promoting science and technology as well as providing an inspirational and educational message for young people."

Yeah? Well screw you, Jemison :D.

For those wondering (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622192)

That's the episode where the Enterprise finds Riker's transporter-accident created duplicate that was abandoned on a planet several years earlier. The new Riker, dubbed Thomas, eventually goes on to leave the ship before one day ending up at DS9 where he steals the Defiant to help the Maquis and is captured/imprisoned by Cardassians. Fun fact: TNG writers briefly considered killing Riker Classic in the episode to have Riker II take his place in the show, but at a lower rank.

The private sector won't wait for 100 years (4, Insightful)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622272)

The private sector will not finance anything like this. They want quick, guaranteed profits. This is why governments should pioneer space travel: the private sector will never go further than LEO unless they are sure it's profitable.

Re:The private sector won't wait for 100 years (3, Funny)

Megahard (1053072) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622292)

Here's one way to solve it.
  1. 1. Develop near-light-speed spaceship.
  2. 2. Put the stockholders on the ship

Re:The private sector won't wait for 100 years (1)

Megahard (1053072) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622330)

Sorry, forgot the obligatory.
  1. 1. Develop near-light-speed spaceship.
  2. 2. Put the stockholders on the ship.
  3. 3. Profit!

Re:The private sector won't wait for 100 years (1)

physburn (1095481) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623946)

Profit, By combining the twin powers of compound interest and relativistic time dilation. It indeed would work. Plus the passengers could benefit from the all the advances in Medical technology and other technologies when they get back to earth.

Re:The private sector won't wait for 100 years (3, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622692)

There is no remotely feasible way to make this a quick trip. At 1G acceleration halfway there and 1G deceleration the other half - that is, the fastest you could possibly go without suffering super-gravitational forces the whole time:

"A journey from the sun to the galactic core at 1G constant acceleration takes 340 years as experienced by the ship crew and 30,000 years as experienced by Earth observers." cite [wikipedia.org]

So (overwhelming technical hurdles aside) the business case (especially for investors on earth) is extremely hard to imagine. Sure, corporations can outlive humans, so investors today can be paid in the hopes of returns in the future. But there is no corporation, no government, NOTHING manmade that has any creditworthiness over that time period.

Re:The private sector won't wait for 100 years (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622914)

"A journey from the sun to the galactic core at 1G constant acceleration takes 340 years as experienced by the ship crew and 30,000 years as experienced by Earth observers." cite

Hmm, my calculations show ~30400 years as seen from Earth, but only 20 years foe the crew.

Of course, noone is interested in going to the center of the Galaxy. I think we'd settle for Alpha Centauri first. 3.5 years for the crew, 6 years from our PoV on Earth.

Re:The private sector won't wait for 100 years (1)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623100)

Well, if we're doing manned space travel purely for the opportunity to feel good about our species then it makes a lot more sense to go to Mars or to the moons of Jupiter. We would not have to wait nearly as long and it would have a similar impact on the human psyche.

This notion of building a giant ship to go to another solar system is extraordinarily impractical. The time lag for communications alone would make it very easy to ignore or forget about or just get kinda jaded over the whole thing (oh, this really happened 4 years ago?)

I can't see the case for exploring outside the solar system we are in when so much of it is unexplored and when the next nearest solar system is extremely far away. It would have been like Columbus sailing for the New World when only 6% of Spain had been explored.

Re:The private sector won't wait for 100 years (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38624186)

This notion of building a giant ship to go to another solar system is extraordinarily impractical.

The point of the operation, I think, is to consider the changes required for human society to implement plans requiring decades/centuries/millenia to complete.

Right now, we have a hard time holding our focus for one Congressional Election cycle, much less a decade. Much less a century.

So some fundamental changes will have to go down to even make an interstellar trip possible to plan, much less implement.

Re:The private sector won't wait for 100 years (1)

climb_no_fear (572210) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623966)

As was already pointed out, nearby stars with travel times in the years to decades would be enough.

I agree that this is a job for government. All the really big projects in the past (pyramids, cathedrals, Great Walls) were the result of government or religious (usually equivalent to government back then) entities throughout history. Some of them took hundreds of years to complete.

Re:The private sector won't wait for 100 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622368)

That is a pretty ignorant blanket statement. There are many visionaries in the private sector that would jump at the chance to contribute to something like this, even if the payoff is far into the future. Think about the profits possible to the first company that builds an interstellar ship...it is worth the risk to be first.

Even notwithstanding that point, if interstellar travel will ever be possible, it will likely be the culmination of thousands of other advancements along the way, the kind that the private sector is very good at making.

The private sector is efficient and knows how to get things done. All government knows how to do is keep itself in existence.

Re:The private sector won't wait for 100 years (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622646)

Think about the profits possible to the first company that builds an interstellar ship...
it will likely be the culmination of thousands of other advancements along the way, the kind that the private sector is very good at making

What profits? It's going to go into space and never come back.
Exploration of near space wasn't "profitable" at the time. Not a dime of "profit" was made by any company in going to the moon.

All the "Profits" from space exploration have been from companies being subsidized far beyond 100% of cost on the R&D that went into developing what space travel we have now.

Was it worth it? Hell Fucking Yes. But if it had been left to "companies" and "private enterprise", none of it would ever have happened. The private sector takes all the things that were necessary to land on the moon, and says "where's the ROI on that? Fuck this, let's put the money into developing another muscle car or a pill to make men have 6-hour erections and multiple orgasms."

NASA is responsible for an incredible number of things you know and take for granted today. None of which would exist without NASA [thesun.co.uk] , because the "private sector" would never have come close to putting in the money to do the R&D.

Re:The private sector won't wait for 100 years (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622828)

Think about the profits possible to the first company that builds an interstellar ship...

I'm having trouble thinking of any such profits. I mean, seriously, what's the business model? Put a few trillion dollars into space and wave goodbye, hoping that it'll by some miracle come back with discoveries that'll make your great-great-great-great grandchildren rich?

There are much safer investments to make if you're only caring about getting a return generations after you're dead. Compound interest, after all, is a beautiful thing.

Even notwithstanding that point, if interstellar travel will ever be possible, it will likely be the culmination of thousands of other advancements along the way, the kind that the private sector is very good at making.

The private sector is very good at incremental enhancements, but not big, high-risk research. Once upon a time corporations were willing to fund long-term research, but over the course of the last several decades American corporations have deprioritized their long-term, blue-sky research spending.

Re:The private sector won't wait for 100 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623406)

The private sector is very good at incremental enhancements, but not big, high-risk research.

Nobody is good at big, high-risk research. It's a legitimately hard problem.

Re:The private sector won't wait for 100 years (1)

huckamania (533052) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622378)

They will go for profit. It is already profitable, which is why Branson, Allen, etc are all trying to get in on the ground floor. The cost of shipping a 'thing' to orbit is astronomically high. Lower the costs and you have a guaranteed profit.

IMO, this project is a waste of time and money. We have space around our own star that we have not figured out how to exploit. I would much rather see us try to build automatic mining/extraction probes for asteroids or recyclers to clean up some of the junk in orbit. I'd like to see a 100 year plan to get us to the asteroid belt. There are enough resources in our own system to sustain us for practically ever.

By the time we reach the edge of our own system, we won't need a 100 year plan to go to the next star. We'll already be there.

Re:The private sector won't wait for 100 years (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622666)

They will go for profit. It is already profitable, which is why Branson, Allen, etc are all trying to get in on the ground floor. The cost of shipping a 'thing' to orbit is astronomically high. Lower the costs and you have a guaranteed profit.

Branson is not aiming for orbit. Virgin Galactic seeks to offer sub-orbital flights for touristic purposes, which is a long way away from orbital flights for commercial purposes.

Re:The private sector won't wait for 100 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622974)

Just to clarify: They want profits for themselves.

Re:The private sector won't wait for 100 years (2)

kid_wonder (21480) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623978)

You sir, are apparently unfamiliar with the newly discovered element unobtanium.

That is pretty much nuts (4, Interesting)

demachina (71715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622286)

$500,000 isn't exactly a lot of money by U.S. government standards, but for a country that currently can't even get to people in to LEO spending money on interstellar space travel is completely nuts.

So, how about you get to Mars first, maybe then we can talk.

There is pretty much zero chance anyone in the private sector is going to sink any money in to interstellar space travel unless there is a juicy cost plus government contract funding it. If you dangle one of those Lockheed and Boeing will be on it in a heart beat, especially if the contract runs for a 100 years before they have to deliver anything.

This "foundation" will just be used by the DARPA haters in Congress, mostly Republicans and Tea Partiers, as further evidence of how far DARPA and the Obama administration has gone off the rails, and after reading this I can see their point.

DARPA does some amazing things but they need to exert a little self restraint and focus on things that will payoff in less than a millenium. It will be unfortunate if the good R&D DARPA does gets cuts because they seem to have gone completely nuts on this. The U.S. doesn't do enough R&D as it is.

Re:That is pretty much nuts (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622338)

Agree.. to put in perspective, you can't even buy a house in San Diego for $500,000.

Re:That is pretty much nuts (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622458)

Pro: The best science isn't the huge dollar mega-projects, it's the slow steady bleeding edge science that gives long term huge results. If the government doesn't fund this then it won't get done, ever. Con: If your goal is to suck money out of the taxpayers and give it to your friends then this could be a workable plan. At least until your country goes bankrupt because your friends bled the country dry. Followed by a revolution where you and your friends are targets.

Re:That is pretty much nuts (1)

Cold hard reality (1536175) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622504)

This isn't science, it's PR.

Re:That is pretty much nuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38624046)

Never has a nickname and a post been so perfectly in-tune.

Re:That is pretty much nuts (1)

csmicfool (2538578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622466)

Interstellar Human travel is the only way to ensure survival of the human race beyond any one single cataclysmic event. If the Earth gets destroyed - or more likely, if WE destroy the Earth - this is the only true way we would be able to continue our existence. The important thing is finding a way to ensure that we don't land on some crappy planet without internet access - then it would certainly be a mistake.

Re:That is pretty much nuts (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622880)

Interstellar Human travel is the only way to ensure survival of the human race beyond any one single cataclysmic event.

A journey has to have a destination; there is only pie-in-the-sky hand waving crap in interstellar travel.

Re:That is pretty much nuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623048)

Bah! Establishing a large population on the moon would be way cheaper. Catastrophe (short of obliteration) on Earth might make it unlivable for sustained presence, but we could still use it's biosphere to survive.

Re:That is pretty much nuts (1)

demachina (71715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623428)

Actually no Mars is the only rational place to put a colony in the foreseeable future. At least it has some water, some CO2 for greenhouses, a barely tolerable temperature and some atmosphere. As Mars is a desert compared to Earth, the moon is a vast desert by comparison to Mars.

Re:That is pretty much nuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623716)

Im sorry: you're twelve.

Starship Project (1)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623786)

Well, this project may not build a colony on another world... but it might just build a city on rock 'n' roll!

Re:That is pretty much nuts (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622502)

I'm a GOPer and a Tea Partier, and I love all things space. What this is though is just pure waste. It appears what happened is the administration decided to give a bunch of money to a minority woman to 'inspire' other minorities. That's a laudable goal, but what would really inspire young and old & everyone else is to, you know, actually DO SOMETHING BESIDES HITCH RIDES FROM THE RUSSIANS. This is a symbolic thing, nothing more, and they know it. Sizzle over substance.

Re:That is pretty much nuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622982)

It appears what happened is the administration decided to give a bunch of money to a minority woman to 'inspire' other minorities.

If the summary is to be believed, a smart and accomplished minority woman. I wish she had more engineering credentials, but I think I can live with it.

On the other hand although $500,000 isn't much, but in the current economic climate can we really afford a deep blue sky project like this.

Re:That is pretty much nuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38624444)

My hat's off to her, and I wish there were more like her, damn straight. My point was, we can't even get to LEO right now, and the gummint is passing out money for *starships*. The cart's so far in front of the horse on that one it just flabbergasts me.

Re:That is pretty much nuts (1)

uniquename72 (1169497) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622518)

There is pretty much zero chance anyone in the private sector is going to sink any money in to interstellar space travel

There's a fair amount of private sector money flowing into space travel now (not specifically interstellar, but have you to walk before you can run). Bigelow Aerospace [bigelowaerospace.com] in Las Vegas is one example (although they've had some cutbacks recently thanks to what Bigelow refers to as the "Obama recession").

It would be hard to argue that working towards private space flight/exploration won't have a vast effect on interstellar study. It would be equally hard to argue that focusing on interstellar travel (one of many, many things DARPA is doing right now) won't have vast, ongoing short-term effects on space flight (and many, many other types of) research, so I'm not sure why you're criticizing it as a long-term goal.

Re:That is pretty much nuts (1)

demachina (71715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623512)

" It would be equally hard to argue that focusing on interstellar travel (one of many, many things DARPA is doing right now) won't have vast"

Actualluy it would be EXTREMELY easy to argue that focusing on interstellar travel wont have vast, ongoing short-term effects on space flight.

It will most probably be extremely counterproductive.
In the current hyper critical budget environment in D.C. this will just be a dart board for all the politicians who want to kill off science and R&D funding.

Re:That is pretty much nuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623004)

i instinctively mirror your sentiments. then i wonder...what was the ROI motivation of the moon program in the 60s? what were the immediate and discernible benefits of landing on the moon when the goal was first set?

i think some potentially very relevant and beneficial knowledge could come from researching methods of long-term space-travel (LTS). LTS is basically an exercise in 'bio-dome' development in the harshest and most limited environment possible. even if there are 'technological breakthroughs' it should reinforce our ability to develop a sustainable way of life. as you said, $500k is not really a big purchase for the US government.

Re:That is pretty much nuts (1)

demachina (71715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623780)

The moon program acheived its goals in 10 years. Politicians could rationalize the expenditure especially in the context of the cold war and the space race. Getting to the Moon was trivial compared to this. Von Braun was already planning for it in the 40's. Colonizing Mars is trivial comparted to this. When we successfully colonize Mars, come back and we will talk. This is seriously out of sequence on what we need to be doing in space exploration right now.

It will be a challenge to land on a planet and successfully colonize it in this solar system with the aid of resupply and technological support for Earth. At interstellar distances it will be a formidable challenge with a high probability of failure without a somewhat improbable FTL drive breakthrough.

Unless you come up with an FTL driver you aren't going to get to even Alpha Centauri in less than nearly forever and its open to debate what you would do when you got there unless there was a habitable planet there ready to colonize with water, oxygen, fuel, reasonable temperature profile and gravity. I think the nearest discovered planets that have a remote chance of being habitable are an even more formidable distance away than Alpha Centauri.

So, you have no chance to get anyone in government to sink any serious money in to a hundred/thousand year project at a time when the U.S. debt is passing 100% of GDP and has been going parabolic since 2008. The U.S. was still flush with cash from the post ware boom in the 60's.

You also have no chance to get anyone in the private sector to sink any money in to this unless its a billionaire with a sci-fi fetish like Paul Allen who are willing to blow a few billion on something they wont live to see pay off.

All things considered I think someone at DARPA was reading a little too much Sci-Fi or this lady had a friend at DARPA who could throw a half million to her to let her indulge her little fantasy. The cool thing is that since its advertised as a hundred year project she doesn't really need to deliver on anything for the rest of her life. Sweet job, where do I sign up?

Re:That is pretty much nuts (3, Insightful)

ModernGeek (601932) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623060)

We decided that we were going to go to the moon before we could put a man into orbit. Brains aren't the only thing to get you somewhere, you also have to have the balls to try.

Yes, $.5M is a lot of money, but... (5, Informative)

Dammital (220641) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623724)

... damn, you should have gone to the symposium. These people were not nuts - they were capable engineers and sociologists and educators and authors and astronauts, who well understood the enormity of the challenge (which does in fact edge into astronomic scale).

There were reviews of existing technologies, reports on current research, proposals ranging from modest to blue-sky, discussion about the science that would have to be done. Social engineering was also prominent - any future colony would be a microcosm of human society after all.

Without the Dreamers, you wouldn't have the Planners. It was awe-inspiring to be among the Dreamers for a couple of days, and I begrudge not one dime of the money DARPA spent on it.

The U.S. doesn't do enough R&D as it is.

Right you are.

Re:That is pretty much nuts (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623992)

DARPA does some amazing things but they need to exert a little self restraint and focus on things that will payoff in less than a millenium.

Yeah, because Mars rocks will totally pay dividends that engineering won't.

Maybe you need to exert a little not whining to your betters about what they should and shouldn't be doing.

Very good to see this getting started (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622376)

This is very important research that will need to be done to go over all the possible scenarios and ways to fix them in a limited space ship with no help from Earth. (besides maybe a directed beam of energy focused from our sun through the solar sail method, but that's about it)

There are so many edge cases where we THINK we know what could be done, but rarely ever goes to plan.

In 100 years time, hell, less if the world doesn't decay in to full-on war, we should be more than ready as a species to take the dive.
Many of the technology just getting out of their baby steps in to toddlerhood we have now will be fairly common by then, from metamaterials to 3D printing.
Metamaterials will pretty much be a requirement, outside of using the solar sail idea to continuously supply power, to save power in these trips.
They can be used to create essentially highly one-way materials for most frequencies in grids that will prevent leakage of EM energy in to space. I think there was also some experiments with them and heat as well.
3D printers would also be an absolute necessity for using resources efficiently, especially for repairing things.
They will be the end point for the recycling system for most macro-scale objects, probably even food as some have experimented with recently.

Thousands of other things, if not millions, required in order to create a stable portable ecosystem right and have it last as long as possible.
Remember, not even Earth is 100% stable. It cycles all the time and can quite easily fall apart given the right conditions.
It could fall apart and on a downward spiral to what would essentially become Mars, all it takes in one major change and chain reaction of failures.
We are just lucky, at the moment, that Earth is stable. That core could fail at any time. That sun could wipe everything off the face of the Earth at random, it could have been responsible for the extinction level events for all we know, rather than gamma ray bursts. (not likely and is likely due to the plane shift of our solar system going through the spiral arm, but they are all still good guesses at best)
We NEED to get off of here as soon as humanly possible. But not before.
If we don't cover everything, these starships will fail harder than anything.

The elephant in the room: propulsion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622446)

Advanced propulsion system to get some significant mass to another star in 100 years is SciFi. From our current technological POV it's not even sure it's possible at all.

Re:The elephant in the room: propulsion (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622908)

The other elephant: collision. If we get any significant fraction of c, how are we going to know when a rock the size of a marble is in our path? At that velocity, it's bye-bye charlie when it hits you.

$500K (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622528)

What is this Somalia!?

Star Dancer (1)

lazarus (2879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622602)

"Jemison ... is a professionally trained dancer".

Spider Robinson must be thrilled.

Re:Star Dancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622700)

The summary notes she is both the first African-American and first black woman to reach space, quite a lady!!

you're all missing the real story here (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622670)

DARPA is now hiring people on 100 year contracts? Forget space, advances in battlefield medicine are the real story.

Don't Blame Me! (1)

grumling (94709) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622680)

I voted for George Clinton! [wikipedia.org]

Mars (1)

jjcushen (1637385) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622686)

That 500k would be better spent on a trip to Mars.

Getting Real About Capitalism (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622816)

The only way to get capitalism to work is to shift the tax base from economic activity to the liquidation value of assets, and set the tax rate to the interest rate used to calculate liquidation value.

But no one with wealth wants that to happen even though just about everyone who has high incomes would want it to happen.

So, due to political economic considerations, capitalism cannot be made to work.

This is not to say that socialism can be made to work, since in order to do so it would require that the liquidation asset interest collected by the government be dispersed equally to all citizens, no "means testing". Socialists want to figure out how to spend your dividends for you because they're so smart and all.

In other words: All fall down.

Interstellar garbage skow (1)

kawabago (551139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623008)

It might be cheaper to send our garbage to other star systems rather than keep using expensive land to bury it!

Funding... (1)

Gavin Scott (15916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623332)

Now DARPA has provided $500,000 in seed money to help jumpstart the effort

"All you have to do is deposit one penny in a savings account in your own era, and when you arrive at the End of Time the operation of compound interest means that the fabulous cost of your meal has been paid for."

G.

If nothing more... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623752)

This is useful to remind us of how young is the US (and the whole Freedom idea): 236 years.

Surely, that explains why Freedom is still so fragile that greed can threaten it's very own existence...

Bah ah ah hahahahahaaaaa!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623804)

Hoo boy, you Space Nutters are precious!

Government is the answer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38624116)

It's amazing to me how many people assume government is the answer to space flight. NASA contracts a lot of work out to private corporations, and if we didn't have such large government spending today there wouldn't be the crowding out effect to space operations that we have been subjected to for the past fifty years. In other words, private space endeavors would be even further along than they are today. We'd certainly already have far more cost efficient launch mechanisms, since private businesses would not be willing to spend tons of money on launches just to fill their budgeted allowances before the end of the year and Lockheed martin, Boeing, and SpaceX would have to compete with one another far more. We might not have put a man in space yet, but then again, who cares? What does it give us other than irrational pride in the short run? If something isn't profitable it means it cost more than it produced. Plain and simple. The Soviets launched Sputnik first, but does anyone think the Soviet Union is the superior country to the United States now? No. Is it because we went to the moon first? Not really. It's because they went bankrupt.

WOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38624120)

This is one incredible human being. Imagine if everyone PUSHED the limits like this woman - we'd have permanent colonies in space by now.
Really - consider what you're capable of: without submitting to fear, or being told "it's not possible". Incredible self discipline, hard work, and focus. This is the sort of person that drags us into the future.

Re:WOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38624316)

No, we wouldn't. You can flap your arms as much as you want you'll never fly. Sometimes the effort is not correlated to success. Basic physical limits are.

Money Awarded to a Track Chair and Organizer? (4, Informative)

Araes (1177047) | more than 2 years ago | (#38624382)

I deeply enjoyed attending the 100 YSS symposium, and actually presented in the economic track that Jemison headed. However, awarding the final seed money to one of the track chairs and program organizers makes the whole process seem like collusion. Note the Education, Social, Economic and Legal Considerations track in the 100 YSS Symposium Agenda [100yss.org] . Having worked program allocation, this is the kind of stuff that could spark lawsuits if it weren't for such a small sum (in gov't terms). Also depends on whether she was funded by DARPA in her track chair duties. (Note: I did not submit a proposal to the RFP)

Hopefully the money is put to good use, as it looks like she partnered with Icarus, who are at least motivated and active.
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