In an attempt to rekindle the inspiration from the moon landing nearly 50 years ago, DARPA has set out to “inspire the first steps in the next era of space exploration—a journey between the stars,” and to help grow mankind into a “space-faring species.
The mission is part of the 100 Year Starship Study, which DARPA released a Request For Information on to solicit ideas on how to make the program possible.
DARPA, the research and development branch of the Department of Defense, states in its report, “Neither the vagaries of the modern fiscal cycle, nor net-present-value calculations … have lent themselves to the … persistence needed to definitively transform mankind into a space-faring species.”
The program is still in its infant state. DARPA is still developing a model for private investment “into the myriad of disciplines needed to make long-distance space travel practicable and feasible.” There are also some unanswered questions, including “how do organizations evolve and maintain focus and momentum for 100 years or more,” and “what resources and financial structures have initiated and sustained prior settlements of ‘new worlds?'”
The far-out sound of the project is also it’s goal, in part. It is meant to “foster a rebirth of a sense of wonder” and to open people’s minds, allowing them to “tackle whole new classes of research and development related to all the issues surrounding long duration, long distance spaceflight.”
It adds that an “unanticipated consequences” of the research will also benefit the Department of Defense, the NSA, and the private commercial sector (which is just entering commercial space exploration).
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