Feeds

US gov says it can't build an interstellar starship

Plans to spawn an organisation which can

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Space enthusiasts will no doubt rejoice at the news that the wealthiest and most powerful organisation yet assembled by the human race – to wit, the US government – reports early progress in its plan to build an interstellar starship capable of carrying people to other star systems than our own.

Enthusiasts may be less pleased to hear that the starship project has a fairly relaxed 2100AD deadline to get itself in gear. Also, this is not a sort of lackadaisical version of President Kennedy's famous 1961 promise to land a man on the moon "before this decade is out" – a promise which the American space programme kept for him, though he died only two years later.

No, the goal of the US government's "100-Year Starship" project – we are told in an official statement released yesterday – is to hand the task of actually organising, funding and building the eventual starship to someone else as the United States itself doesn't think it has the energy and resolution to do the job.

“Looking at history, most significant exploration, like crossing oceans or continents for the first time, was sponsored by patrons or groups outside of government," says David Neyland, top boffin in charge of the project. "We’re here because we’d like to start with a mechanism that gets this long-range project out of the government, and make sure it is an energized and self-sustaining enterprise.”

As we suspected when the 100-Year Starship plan was first announced, the idea seems to be that interstellar exploration will require the creation of some new kind of organisation able to somehow seize and focus a major fraction of humanity's resources over a long period of time.

Naturally there is a science-fiction example: Robert A Heinlein's miracle non-profit organisation the Long Range Foundation in Time for the Stars, which becomes fantastically wealthy through investing in long-term but high payoff enterprises such as weather control. The Foundation then pours this money into interstellar "torch ships".

Yesterday's statement (pdf) from the 100-Year Starship project was to announce completion of an initial workshop to get the ball rolling. It's no surprise to note that "the workshop brought together 29 visionaries with diverse backgrounds from aerospace engineer to science fiction author".

At this point in the process, the sci-fi scribe was probably rather more useful than the engineer.

The 100-Year Starship project is run by famous Pentagon crazytech bureau DARPA, partnered with NASA – who presumably at some point in the next couple of decades need to hand off to the as-yet-unnamed real world Long Range Foundation. ®

Bootnote

"If man survives for as long as the least successful of the dinosaurs – those creatures whom we often deride as nature's failures – then we may be certain of this: for all but a vanishingly brief instant near the dawn of history, the word 'ship' will mean – 'spaceship'." – Arthur C Clarke

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.