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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