Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 2 (2 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   1 comment

Sci Tech

Live Long and Prosper: The 100 Year Starship Project

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; (more...) ; , Add Tags  (less...) Group(s): , Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to None 7/4/11

Become a Fan
  (13 fans)

"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them"--Albert Einstein


The Defense Advanced Research Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently announced an extraordinary new project, the 100 Year Starship Study, www.100yss.org . Depending upon your perspective, this could either be the craziest or the coolest project ever undertaken by a US federal agency.

Ever since 1958, DARPA has endeavored to keep the US on the cutting edge of emergent defense technologies. Indeed, there is an undeniable advantage in possessing more sophisticated defense technologies than one's potential foes. For most folks, peace is preferable to being vanquished by superior weaponry. Of course, DARPA is not only a producer of weapons. For example, if you're reading this article, then you can thank DARPA. The Internet is a civilianized version of ARPANET, DARPA's original computer networking system. Thus, DARPA has a history of developing new technologies that have stimulated both defense-related and civilian social progress. Would we live in an information society if not for the Internet? However, the 100 Year Starship Study arguably expands DARPA's technological vision into an entirely new realm.

From September 30 - October, 2, 2011, DARPA will conduct a 100 Year Starship Symposium in Orlando, Florida. The goal of the symposium will be to engaged in an open discussion about the challenges involved in achieving interstellar space travel over the next 100 years.

Yes, you read that correctly: DARPA wants to launch a starship by 2111.

Certainly, some might view this as overreach on the part of DARPA. After all, interstellar space travel is the stuff of science fiction, right?  

For those who are smirking, it is worth pointing out that in 1961 lunar space travel was also pure science fiction. As of 1961, the US lacked the scientific knowledge to land astronauts on the moon. Yet, in spite of that deficiency, President John F. Kennedy committed the US to the goal of landing astronauts on the moon by the end of the 1960s. (There's nothing like a deadline to motivate progress!) In realizing Kennedy's dream, the US not only managed to win the space race, but the US also laid the foundation for the information society.

As America's terrestrial problems escalate, critics have charged that space flight is little more than a futile and expensive hobby. After all, what hope is there that NASA programs will ever resolve practical problems such as winning the war on terror, reversing global warming, reducing the spread of AIDS, or eliminating global hunger? Indeed, space flight is so atmospherically insulated from the real world that NASA programs often appear to be little more than distractions; diverting scarce resources from a plethora of intractable social issues and blasting them into the boundless void of space. In short, what possible benefit can earthlings hope to derive from the billions of dollars required to keep space programs afloat?

History has shown that, so long as we remain committed to our dreams, humans have got all the brains, wherewithal and fortitude to achieve the impossible. We can build a brighter future. All we need are visionary leaders who are prepared to lead the charge toward the Next Great Frontier.

So, why should DARPA organize a 100 Year Starship Symposium? Because, quite simply, the stars light the way to a brighter future. Space travel paved the way to Kennedy's New Frontier in the 1960s. If the United States remains committed to accomplishing ever greater feats in the future, then we should look to the stars to light our way. Thus, 100 Year Starship is not a distraction. The 100 Year Starship could well be the vehicle that transports us to the next Great Frontier.

 

http://goodscience.sociology.org/

Tim McGettigan is a professor of sociology at CSUPueblo. Tim's primary research interests are in the areas of science, technology, society (STS) and the future and Tim blogs about those topics at the following sites: The Socjournal, (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Stephen Hawking's God: A Stubbornly Persistent Illusion

Elementary My Dear Watson! The Beauty (and Baloney) of Being Right about Everything

It's Alive!! Ray Kurzweil, AI, and Frankentelligence

Feynman's Cosmic Onion

Einstein's God is Irrelevant

Many Worlds, but only One Reality: Stephen Hawking and the Determinist Fallacy

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
1 people are discussing this page, with 1 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

History has shown that, so long as we remain commi... by Timothy McGettigan on Monday, Jul 4, 2011 at 10:17:31 AM