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NASA Reveals Hundred Year Starship Program 351

cmansley writes "NASA Ames Director Simon Worden revealed that NASA Ames has 'just started a project with DARPA called the Hundred Year Starship,' with $1 million funding from DARPA and $100K from NASA. Worden said 'Larry [Page] asked me a couple weeks ago how much it would cost to send people one way to Mars and I told him $10 billion, and his response was, "Can you get it down to 1 or 2 billion?"'"
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NASA Reveals Hundred Year Starship Program

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @09:32AM (#33960066)

    Interesting take.. But, the "project" would be set up with the endpoint being "got to mars", just like we do with other space activities. Your project might end with "delivered spacecraft to the pad, ready for launch".

    But $100k from NASA means basically 3-4 months work for one person. This is clearly a "study" type activity. With the total of about a million, you can get some people together in a room periodically, run some simulations, and write a decent report. For instance, just setting up an experiment to test their 140GHz propulsion scheme might burn the whole million. Sending significant power at 140 GHz through the atmosphere is going to be a challenge. Absorption is moderate (about 2-3 dB total, if clear, dry sky), but propagation uncertainties will make "forming the beam" as shown in the picture a challenge.

  • You have 100 years? (Score:4, Informative)

    by rcastro0 ( 241450 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @09:49AM (#33960272) Homepage

    Turning US$ 2 Billion into US$ 100 Billion in 100 years is no big deal. One just needs a 4% return above inflation. That is trivial for a good asset manager with a long term outlook.

    In fact, make it into the "120 year starship program" and we will have US$ 220 Billion to play (don't you love compound interest rates?).

  • Re:yikes (Score:3, Informative)

    by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @10:24AM (#33960768) Homepage

    Flammability is the least of problems. Bigger issue is how it is "very" cryogenic and of low density (necessitating large structures, especially problematic when trying to perform an atmospheric entry) - there are good practical reason why no booster needing to remain viable in space for more than a few days (or even hours?) used LH2.

  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @10:34AM (#33960892)

    Because accelerators are horribly inefficient?

  • by inigopete ( 780297 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @11:03AM (#33961206)

    No method has yet been created (as in, put into practice) to enable human bodies to withstand prolonged microgravity. Physiologically we're just not built for it. Our bodies have grown in earth's gravity, our blood vessels below the chest have grown to return blood against gravity back to the heart. As yet, there's no viable method for keeping a human able to do what they need to do in microgravity for a very long period and enable them to function properly once they reach the surface (and gravity environment) of another planet. []

    ...but a lot of this gets omitted from the political rhetoric and financial posturing because we don't like admitting that we're squishy earth-bound creatures.

  • Re:Sooo.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull ( 905905 ) <> on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @11:32AM (#33961556) Homepage Journal

    probably because the winds of change have them knee deep in the hoopla causing them to go to deep space/virgin sky whilst leaving Earth []

    That would have been funnier if you hadn't used italics or provided the link. As it is, you just shouted "hey look at me, I made a FUNNY!"

  • by anUnhandledException ( 1900222 ) <davis,gerald&gmail,com> on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:26PM (#33962288)

    DARPA deals with cutting edge technology. Like the first packet switching network, telepathic spies, and cars that can drive themselves.

    By 1975 ARPANET was no longer cutting edge pure R&D but rather a growing production system. As such control & funding of ARPANET was transfered to the Defense Communication Agency. No matter how massively sucessful ARPANET was (or could have been) DARPA was never going to fund it forever. That isn't how DARPA works. It is a incubator for technology. Those technologies are either abandoned (like telepathic spies) or move on to production systems (like APRANET).

    Similarly today DARPA is doing research into autonomous vehicles. However someday when those vehicles are in production DARPA will move on to other projects.

    I grant you research into telepathic spies wasn't the most productive but is a misnomer to say DARPA abandoned ARPANET.

    ARPANET remained functional until 1990 (although by 1983 the military nodes had broken away to form the isolated MilNET).

    It was the first, and being first, was best,
    but now we lay it down to ever rest.
    Now pause with me a moment, shed some tears.
    For auld lang syne, for love, for years and years
    of faithful service, duty done, I weep.
    Lay down thy packet, now, O friend, and sleep.

      -- Requiem of the ARPANET

  • Re:yikes (Score:3, Informative)

    by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:31PM (#33962356) Homepage

    they can get someone on Mars for $10 billion; why the fuck haven't they started yet?

    They also said that was the price tag for a one way trip. While I have no doubt that you could find many volunteers for that, even if they had no hope of survival past the point of the canned air running out, politicians don't have the guts. Remember the second part of Kennedy's moon goal, "and return him safely to the Earth". It would take a real change in our culture before the majority would support politicians who supported a one-way mission.

  • Re:yikes (Score:3, Informative)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @12:57PM (#33962732) Homepage
    There is something of a qualitative and quantitative difference between a low tech communications satellite and a manned Mars (or even Lunar) mission. Don't get me wrong, I've contributed a lot to AMSAT over the years and have used their sats. It's a pretty impressive bit of organization, money raising and actual hands on satellite building.

    But the OP's idea of building a major space initiative through volunteer machining work is just worlds apart from reality.

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10