To Boldly Go to New Worlds, NASA Announces í100-Year Starshipí
By Lee Speigel | AOLNews.com
It might sound like the stuff of science fiction, but a NASA official says that "within a few years" scientists will unveil a prototype for a spaceship capable of taking earthlings to other worlds.
Speaking at a Long Now Foundation conference in San Francisco over the weekend, Simon Worden, center director at NASAís Ames Research Center in California, said a project is under way called the "Hundred Year Starship."
A NASA official has announced a proposed spaceship that could take earthlings to other worlds within a few years. Pictured, "Star Trekís" Starship Enterprise. CBS Paramount Television
As reported by news.com.au, the project is, so far, a joint venture between NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, and looks to utilize new ship propulsion modes.
"Anybody that watches the ["Star Trek"] Enterprise, you know you donít see huge plumes of fire," Worden, a retired Air Force brigadier general, said at the conference.
"Within a few years, we will see the first true prototype of a spaceship that will take us between worlds."
Worden added that NASA is "now really aimed at settling other worlds. Twenty years ago, you had to whisper that in dark bars and get fired."
So far, the starship project has received $1 million from DARPA and $100,000 from NASA. Thatís certainly not enough to make this enterprise (if you will) a reality, and Worden said heís hoping to entice some billionaires to help fund it.
Itís not exactly warp drive. Worden explained that NASA was looking into the idea of using microwave power from a ground base to heat hydrogen propellants installed on an orbiting spaceship.
"You donít have to carry all the fuel. You use that energy from a laser or microwave power to heat a propellant. ... I think thatís one way of getting off the world."
But before we spend billions and billions of hard-earned dollars, leaping out where no one has gone before, Worden suggests we first use long-distance robots to explore the planet Mars from its two moons.
"I think weíll be on the moons of Mars by 2030 or so," Worden said.
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