100-Year Starship Study & Workshop Goals
The 100-Year Starship Study is a project seeded by DARPA and NASA Ames to develop a sustainable model for persistent, long-term, private-sector investment into the myriad of disciplines needed to make long-distance space travel viable.1 The goal is to develop an investment vehicle – under the patronage and guidance of entrepreneurs, business leaders, and technology visionaries – which provides sustained investment over a century-long time horizon, together with the agility to respond to the accelerating pace of technological change.
On January 11-12, 2011, DARPA and NASA Ames convened a Strategic Planning Workshop, which brought together 29 visionaries with diverse backgrounds, from engineers to authors. Over the course of two days, participants discussed the requirements for seeding research that would enable interstellar flight.
The workshop sought to frame questions related technological, financial, and organizational strategy for a long-term technology organization. Participants considered the connections between economics, politics, social trends, and technological progress, as well as the organizational characteristics that could navigate these domains with the flexibility and robustness required to endure.
Discussion addressed a wide range of issues, including motivations for human visitation of other star systems, the risks involved, the economic and socio-political obstacles, and the type of governance structure needed. Other topics, such as the importance of having short-term achievable goals, identifying a destination for a starship, bringing together a core group of experts/enthusiasts, interest groups and private funding, and the continued importance of science and technical education for the world’s youth were also discussed at length.
The workshop concluded with unanimous acknowledgement that many unanswered questions remain and a great deal of work lies ahead. Planning is underway for follow-on activities, and the study is scheduled for completion by the end of 2011. Organizers and participants agreed that spirited discussion throughout 2011 will undoubtedly ensue.