Throughout history technical challenges have inspired generations to achieve scientific breakthroughs of lasting impact. Several decades ago, for instance, the race to the moon sparked a global excitement surrounding space exploration that persists to this day. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the NASA Ames Research Center have teamed together to take the first step in the next era of space explorationâ€”a journey between the stars.
The 100-Year Starship study will examine the business model needed to develop and mature a technology portfolio enabling long-distance manned space flight a century from now. This goal will require sustained investments of intellectual and financial capital from a variety of sources. The year-long study aims to develop a construct that will incentivize and facilitate private co-investment to ensure continuity of the lengthy technological time horizon needed.
â€œThe 100-Year Starship study is about more than building a spacecraft or any one specific technology,â€ said Paul Eremenko, DARPA coordinator for the study. â€œWe endeavor to excite several generations to commit to the research and development of breakthrough technologies and cross-cutting innovations across a myriad of disciplines such as physics, mathematics, biology, economics, and psychological, social, political and cultural sciences, as well as the full range of engineering disciplines to advance the goal of long-distance space travel, but also to benefit mankind.â€
DARPA also anticipates that the advancements achieved by such technologies will have substantial relevance to Department of Defense (DoD) mission areas including propulsion, energy storage, biology/life support, computing, structures, navigation, and others. Beyond the DoD and NASA, these investments will reinvigorate private entrepreneurs, the engineering and scientific community, and the worldâ€™s youth in a bold quest for the stars.
The 100-Year Starship study looks to develop the business case for an enduring organization designed to incentivize breakthrough technologies enabling future spaceflight.