back to article DARPA, NASA team on '100-Year Starship' project

Those like us here on the Reg astronautical desk who are occasionally a bit disappointed at the limited scope of humanity's space programmes may be overjoyed to learn that NASA has just begun work on an actual interstellar starship. Well, kind of. The news comes in a recent US government statement outlining the so-called "100- …

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Unhappy

In other words-

"Expect F-all to happen in Manned Spaceflight in the next 100 years"- NASA.

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re: In other words

China

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Black Helicopters

It's definitely going to be China

Proceed with this nonsense at warp speed Mr. Spock

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Flame

Why?

So remind me again why instead of seeking to get business interested in long distance space travel they aren’t seeking to get them involved in mining the other resources our galaxy has to offer? Business need (and war admittedly) gradually improved the speed of travel across our oceans if you view space as a similar model then system wide mining could establish a space based industry and generate need for improved travel methods. Taking the very long view we could even establish a Jovian Vegas.

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Anonymous Coward

Motivation?

We traveled by ship and land to trade high priced finished goods. Latterly (last 150 - 200ish years) it was more rare, but still highly priced goods like coal and oil. Yes, minerals were carried because economics of material movement came into play. Latterly, again, it was about the cost of energy. Marginal value was key.

We won't go off-planet to mine in any significant manner and recover metals until the cost of energy rises to make it economic or the cost of space transport reduces.

Indeed, humanity won't go off-planet (except for vanity/scientific/weapons projects) in any significant way until we can't get an essential commodity locally, there is a 'need' - like possible extinction - or the cost comes down.

If energy becomes inexpensive enough to be ignored as a significant barrier then the game changes but until then ...

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Re: Why?

"So remind me again why instead of seeking to get business interested in long distance space travel they aren’t seeking to get them involved in mining the other resources our galaxy has to offer?"

I don't see how one can explore the galactic resources without long distance space travel capability.

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Stop

Steady on...

So far I have been a keen supporter of the space program. In terms of science, medecine and engineering it has given us a lot - but this new extravagence cannot be justified in a world blighted by disease and hunger.

On giant step too far!

Martin

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not likely

I'm a bit skeptical that you've been a keen supporter of the space program if you can refer to this step too short as unjustified extravagance. I think it's far more likely that your first sentence was a lie included to provide contrast and greater impact to those that followed.

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crafty new gesellschaft?

No thanks.

The last time thinkers from Left and Right with german accents held forth on their crafty new gesellschafts, they transformed the world into a bloodbath.

And who needs manned spaceflight anyway?

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Anonymous Coward

everybody ...

who want to get out before it is too late

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WTF?

Head stuck on the past, mate

You may not have noticed, since the 1940's the Germans have built a fair and equal society in which everyone benefits from the hard work they all put into it. Plus, their cars are quite reliable, or so I'm told.

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Anonymous Coward

Bzzzt!

Godwin's Law invoked! Away to the sin-bin with you.

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"No human organisation...

"No human organisation has yet appeared with both the financial clout and the long-term commitment that would appear necessary to get humanity out among the stars."

Does the Catholic church not count?

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@Paul Smith

Hardly. They didn't have space-ships in the Dark Ages, and the Catholic Church isn't keen on anything that takes people further away from Dark Age attitudes. Now if you happened to be an evil murdering despotic dictator packing your people into the torture chambers, they're good with that...

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Go

I can't be the first to think this

That sounds like a great pitch for an SF novel. Although I'm pretty sure it's already been done, I just can't remember who by

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Unhappy

Cunning plan to avoid the politcos

NASA I'm sure have already said that they suffer again and again from changing administrations, budgets, and flavour of the 'term'.

If they could get on with LONG projects they might be allowed to do something special, but having to get the funding and do it, before someone changes their mind is a difficult one.

So if it wasn't 'NASA' as we know it, but some independant outfit that didnt get involved in the politics and campaigning and votes I can see there could be some long term real results from this.

Just finding the way to stop the corrupt expenses and power loons from making a mess of it??? Thats the hard part.

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Terminator

AI

one day we will see the birth of AI.

RoTM or maybe we just die out because of our stupidity.

perhaps they will be our star spanning legacy.

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M7S
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Joke

Long Range Foundation

"No human organisation has yet appeared with both the financial clout and the long-term commitment that would appear necessary to get humanity out among the stars"

Surely the Illuminati are up to the job?

And those groups that have been protecting bloodlines (no, not the Bene Geserit Sisterhood, they're into manipulating them) since about AD33 or thereabouts have demonstrated quite a commitment.

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Re: Long Range Foundation

If the Masons want to be relevant again, maybe they could take up this task?

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"Long Range Foundation" - several candidates

In the UK, the Wellcome Trust is the biggest at £13bn. The Wellcome Trust is the reason the Human Genome Project happened, for instance - the various governments funding it were going to axe it bcos they didn't want to compete with a private company doing the same thing. The Wellcome Trust said "screw you, we're going to keep it going, and if you want a piece of the action then you'd better stump up". If it wasn't for the Wellcome Trust, research into human genetic disorders would have been strangled at birth by Venter.

Then there's the Gates Foundation, which is currently doing great work in hitting a load of Third-World diseases which multinational drug companies have ignored as unprofitable, and Third-World problems like lack of clean water which the UN has singularly failed at tackling.

Nominally both of these are more into biomed, but that's simply bcos biomed is where the most work needs to be done for improving human living standards. It's not too hard to imagine one (or both) of these deciding to branch out into other long-term projects when human living standards worldwide reach acceptable levels and there's some spare money in the kitty.

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Just as long....

... as they finished the arks before the giant mutant star goat turns up...

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Coat

Well...

... at least the second of the three Arks needs to be finished...

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Impossible?

Are you suggesting that capitalism only rewards short term gain?

That's like saying that energy giants won't investigate renewables as long as there's cheap oil underground!!!!

(Heartily sick of people telling me that "Shell will do this, Shell will do that, because they want to stay in business." Well exactly, Shell will continue to pump out and refine cheap oil and make profit from it, precisely because they want to stay in business. Pumping profits into windmills and funny wave schemes would kill their competitivity.)

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FAIL

Capitalism

Yeah, future fiction is full of such organisations; problem is to be plausible they have always been mega-successful in some tech enterprise, *without* going IPO. So the family owners can embark on a long-term, risky, expensive endeavour. Meanwhile all real companies in this world go public and have to feed (reports of) profits to shareholders, to keep the price up or be bought and asset-stripped. So they can't do it.

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Happy

Bootnote

Made me lol.

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Stop

Waste of time.

100 years time ?

Put that in context - could the late Victorians have envisaged what was required for project Apollo ?

"The construction of the balloon would require a considerable increase in rubber from our plantations in the colonies. Also the gentlemen space travelers would have to be from the gentry classes because her majesty would surely request an audience upon their return ."

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100 years

"Put that in context - could the late Victorians have envisaged what was required for project Apollo?"

Well, Tsiolkovsky published his "The Exploration of Cosmic Space by Means of Reaction Devices" in 1903 (which just misses the "late Victorian" I guess). And the leap from the technology of his days to Apollo was probably much greater than from here to a starship 100 years from now.

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Unhappy

Disappointment

When I read the title I thought "OMG! They're going to build Longshot!" How disappointing...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Longshot

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Grenade

Skipped to the end

When it became apparent that the story actually amounted to a mind-blowingly expensive 100 year meeting.

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Alien

Simple problem of motivation

Don't worry, this problem will take care of itself. The Republicans are taking control of the US government again, so soon they'll decide to round up all the scientists and isolate them on the ISS. Once there, the scientists will get bored, commandeer all the pocket calculators, and work out a way to modify the station to become a long range starship.

Now if we can just plan ahead for how to handle the Mule...

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Nice..

Asimov reference

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Alien

What gets me

is the use of words like "incentivize" (AARGH). This kind of committee-speak rarely leads to anything, except a smug feeling amongst committee-members of having finished a report, and THEREFORE having done something about the problem.

Other than that I applaud people even just thinking about the problem of star travel

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Welcome

mind blowingly expensive meeting

In order to avoid being tied to market rate fluctuations and the withdrawal/introduction of currencies, the cost of this meeting must be measured in "number of biscuits consumed".

Thanks to Jeremy Clarkson for laying the foundations of such an important measurement unit.

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Jobs Halo

Apple's $46 bn

The iSpaceShip

That is All

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Anonymous Coward

what we need as a vulture "V-ger" Plan

"NASA has just begun work on an actual interstellar starship. Well, kind of."

well that's typical, lets make a comity to talk about it, rather than make something and Put actual

Useful devices On it to broadcast and seed inter stellar wireless Ethernet, still at least

the artificial lifeforms out there did see fit to re-fit and kit out "V-ger" so it could return home eventually ;) ooh wait that wasn't real was it.

take for a vulture paper "V-ger/voyager 1" with masses of self micro meshed radios and HD cam's made from paper and toy parts plan, and have beardy branson sling it into space with some old nicker elastic propellant on their next test run.

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give em a copy of Wallace and Gromits World of Invention

it seems these NASA suits need a copy of Wallace and Gromits World of Invention idea's those (EU /German) manta-ray drones are SO COOL.

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there's such an organization..

the roman catholic church.. they've been gazing at the stars for a while for some reason and have one (or two) of the best telescopes around.. and! they have the cash and patience!

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The Bene Gesserit are not impressed

by this sort of short term thinking

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Go

Beware the New Sovietsky

A colleague of mine commented:

'Actually, the original Heinlein multigenerational spaceship concept was found in "Orphans of the Sky" in 1941, but otherwise the article is right on target. "Time for the Stars" was published in 1956.

'Parenthetically, the Register's writer misses the biggest problem with an organization like the Long Range Foundation: how to keep it focused on technology advancement, instead of turning, over time, into a funding source for Marxist entities trying to create the New Soviet Man. The record of the Ford Foundation is illustrative in this regard.'

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