Sunday, August 07, 2011

The Next Era of Space Exploration: DARPA & NASA Sponsor 100-Year Starship Study

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By Amina Khan
Los Angeles Times

     What will it take to build a spaceship capable of traveling to the stars? And what if you wanted it to be ready to launch in just 100 years?

It may sound like the premise of a science fiction show or reality TV series. But these are serious questions being asked by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the research-and-development arm of the U.S. military.

This fall, DARPA intends to award up to $500,000 in seed money to a group that proves it would do the best job of developing the necessary technologies — whatever they may be — for interstellar travel. The proposals had better be good — if none of them are up to snuff, the agency won't hand out the money. To stimulate discussion on the research possibilities, DARPA officials will hold a symposium that brings together astrophysicists, engineers and even sci-fi writers so they can brainstorm what it would take to make this starship enterprise a success.

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