Feeds

DARPA issues call for notions on Starship-for-2111 plan

'We want an organisation able to squash the USA like a bug'

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Wild-hare Pentagon boffinry bureau DARPA continues to forge ahead with its radical plan to get the first manned interstellar spaceships headed out of the solar system by the year 2111.

The military tech agency yesterday issued a call for papers to be presented at the 100 Year Starship Study Symposium which is to be held in Florida this October.

According to DARPA, the symposium "is expected to attract roughly hundreds of people from around the world".

“This won’t just be another space technology conference – we’re hoping that ethicists, lawyers, science fiction writers, technologists and others, will participate in the dialog to make sure we’re thinking about all the aspects of interstellar flight,” says David Neyland, DARPA bigwig.

“This is a great opportunity for people with interesting ideas to be heard, which we believe will spur further thought, dreaming and innovation.”

The agency notes that Jules Verne wrote his scientifiction classic From the Earth to the Moon in 1865, and just 104 years later the first men actually walked on the lunar surface, so perhaps the lofty 2111 goal may really be possible. (The Pentagon men obviously don't care to mention Cyrano de Bergerac's L'Autre Monde: Où les États et Empires de la Lune, written in 1650, as this would mean no starship for 319 years or more.)

Things that DARPA - and the NASA Ames staffers overseeing the project for them - would like to see discussed at the symposium include:

Time/space manipulation and/or dilation, near speed of light navigation, faster than light navigation, observations and sensing at near speed of light or faster than light...

Implications of finding habitable worlds, implications of finding life elsewhere, implications of being left behind...

To have gravity or not [inside the ships], space and radiation effects, environmental toxins, energy collection and use, agriculture, self-supporting environments, optimal habitat sizing...

Criteria for destination selection, what do you take...

As regular readers of our 100 Year Starship coverage thus far will know, DARPA and NASA plan to sidestep the tricky question funding for the starship(s) by triggering off "the creation of a self-sustaining organization that will tackle all the issues and challenges", as opposed to having the US government do it.

This organisation might perhaps resemble the Long Range Foundation from Robert Heinlein's classic Time For The Stars, a miracle non-profit which becomes wealthy enough to fund star travel by making long-range, high-payoff investments in such things as weather control.

One slight snag on this - assuming that DARPA can actually kick off such an amazing gesellschaft - is that the LRF-a-like setup would seem likely to become enormously more wealthy and powerful than the US government. Certainly any hardware capable of getting humans to other stars would seem likely to be powerful enough to devastate the planet Earth if misused.

DARPA says that "unanticipated consequences of such research – benefits from improved propulsion to energy storage and life support – can ultimately be expected to benefit the Department of Defense and NASA, as well as the private and commercial sector".

Even so, the emergence of some kind of extranational superpower might not seem to some US taxpayers as a goal they should be aiming for.

Others, though - and perhaps the rest of us - might well be glad that people are trying to get humanity spread beyond our home solar system, a goal essential to the long-term survival of the race (though our chances get a lot better simply by spreading off Earth).

We here on the Reg space desk will be wishing the 100 Year Starship project all the luck in the world, while acknowledging that that's just what they're going to need. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.