NASA's Ames Center Director, Simon "Pete" Worden has announced that development of next-generation propulsion technologies are underway. Image Credit: NASA

NASA’s Ames Director Announces “100 Year Starship”

Article Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

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The Director of NASA’s Ames Center, Pete Worden has announced an initiative to move space flight to the next level. This plan, dubbed the “Hundred Year Starship,” has received $100,000 from NASA and $ 1 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). He made his announcement on Oct. 16. Worden is also hoping to include wealthy investors in the project. NASA has yet to provide any official details on the project.

Worden also has expressed his belief that the space agency was now directed toward settling other planets. However, given the fact that the agency has been redirected toward supporting commercial space firms, how this will be achieved has yet to be detailed. Details that have been given have been vague and in some cases contradictory.

The Ames Director went on to expound how these efforts will seek to emulate the fictional starships seen on the television show Star Trek. He stated that the public could expect to see the first prototype of a new propulsion system within the next few years. Given that NASA’s FY 2011 Budget has had to be revised and has yet to go through Appropriations, this time estimate may be overly-optimistic.

One of the ideas being proposed is a microwave thermal propulsion system. This form of propulsion would eliminate the massive amount of fuel required to send crafts into orbit. The power would be “beamed” to the space craft. Either a laser or microwave emitter would heat the propellant, thus sending the vehicle aloft. This technology has been around for some time, but has yet to be actually applied in a real-world vehicle.

The project is run by Dr. Kevin L.G. Parkin who described it in his PhD thesis and invented the equipment used. Along with him are David Murakami and Creon Levit. One of the previous workers on the program went on to found his own company in the hopes of commercializing the technology used.

For Worden, the first locations that man should visit utilizing this revolutionary technology would not be the moon or even Mars. Rather he suggests that we should visit the red planet’s moons, Phobos and Deimos. Worden believes that astronauts can be sent to Mars by 2030 for around $10 billion – but only one way. The strategy appears to resemble the ‘Faster-Better-Cheaper’ craze promoted by then-NASA Administrator Dan Goldin during the 1990s.

DARPA is a branch of the U.S. Department of Defense whose purview is the development of new technology to be used by the U.S. military. Some previous efforts that the agency has undertaken include the first hypertext system, as well as other computer-related developments that are used everyday. DARPA has worked on space-related projects before, working on light-weight satellites (LIGHTSAT), the X-37 space plane, the FALCON Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle (HCV) and a number of other programs.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA has been involved with a number of advanced technology projects. Image Credit: DARPA

Source: Kurzweil

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tacitus
Member
October 20, 2010 10:06 AM
BTW, guys. I refuse to give this fight up. Mother Earth does not deserve rampant disrespect in favour of lofty goals that serve ego and nothing else. What the heck are you talking about, Roen. I’m as liberal is it gets (in America anyway) and care a great deal about the fate of the Earth and its people, but even I can see that your spouting nonsense. Do you watch any of the professional sports leagues, or perhaps indulge in a little music or TV entertainment? If you do, how dare you enjoy yourself by indulging in the products of a multi-billion dollar industry when all around you are still raping the planet. You should be campaigning to… Read more »
pink
Member
October 20, 2010 7:32 AM

I think we should be maybe a little less hard on this guy. Really I’m happy with any progress in this direction, even if a few of the aspects of particular project is are a little (or a lot) weird. But for example, of course he’s going to mention Star Trek at some point, it’s something that captures people’s imaginations, and of course he’s going to be quoted for the same reason.

Uncle Fred
Member
Uncle Fred
October 20, 2010 6:27 AM

LOL, what a bunch of hot air.

April fools jokes are funnier if done on April 1st.

Roen
Member
Roen
October 20, 2010 6:45 AM
Okay, first thought was: Humans have not yet shown themselves to be responsible on Earth; so even thinking of settling other planets this early in our development is irresponsible, a waste of money and just plain stupid. The money COULD have been put to better use searching for solutions to problems right here at home. “The Ames Director went on to expound how these efforts will seek to emulate the fictional starships seen on the television show Star Trek” Second thought was: You’re kidding, right? No, you seriously BETTER be kidding. A message to those who like that show way too much… *its a fictional TV show filled with obligatory techno-babble not real science.* Pete Worden needs to… Read more »
Ekar
Member
Ekar
October 20, 2010 6:48 AM

He has a PhD?

Roen
Member
Roen
October 20, 2010 6:57 AM

@EKAR: As far as I’m concerned he has brain damage, lol. But, yes he does have a related PhD , but he was also an air force brat and developed projects for the military. Just goes to show, you can earn a PhD but that doesn’t mean you gots a brain.

tacitus
Member
October 20, 2010 3:00 PM
Actually Roen, you’re the one who’s been creating the ultimate strawman. Nobody alive today is likely going anywhere permanently, and only the tiniest handful will ever leave low Earth orbit even temporarily, so to attack people for dreaming about the day when Earth is no longer humanity’s only permanent home instead of dreaming about solving the serious problems here at home (something the vast majority of us have just about as much chance of doing something about, individually) is just stupid. We all face the same future here on Earth, and all but the craziest few are fully aware of that fact. There isn’t the slightest notion that anyone can escape Earth’s fate within the next couple of… Read more »
Dave Finton
Member
October 20, 2010 7:31 AM
Of all the arguments against colonizing space (and there are some good ones) the one I just simply cannot agree with is the sentiment that “we need to solve the problems here on Earth first. I believe this sentiment is just flat out wrong-headed and myopic. The problem with colonizing space are two-fold. One, the technology just isn’t there yet. To get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time, you need a ship that travel quickly and safely across vast distances taking into account acceleration, cosmic rays, and the odd interplanetary (or interstellar, as it were) dust grain that can’t punch a hole in an unprotected spaceship hull. The second is organization. This won’t be something that any… Read more »
Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
October 20, 2010 8:37 AM
Creon Levit is a panegyric for Jack Sarfatti, where if you are not familiar with Jack a look at his website is amusing, to say the least. All sort of good stuff about his having contacted UFO aliens, his role from the age of 11 in top secret programs and — it gets rich. The guy interestingly knows a lot of physics, but he twists it all around with an idea of showing faster than light travel. His proof for the feasibility of this is the existence of UFOs. This is not about starships, but interplanetary spaceships. The idea of microwave propulsion has been around for a while. The big difficulty with the idea is in keeping a… Read more »
Roen
Member
Roen
October 20, 2010 8:59 AM
@Dave Finton: I can respect another’s contrary POV regardless of the arrogance from which it was produced. Believe me, I used to feel as you do… I too was arrogant on this issue. It is complete disregard for nature and humanity that causes the waste of huge amounts of money on projects like this. Maybe you need to be reminded of the fact that our world is dying and all you people can think about is finding another world to escape our problems instead of fix them. No one is willing to learn from these past mistakes, and correct them. It no longer seems that the vast majority of humans really don’t care about our birth place in… Read more »
Dark Gnat
Member
Dark Gnat
October 20, 2010 8:59 AM

Don’t worry. It will be canceled ater several billion dollars are spent. That’s the American way.

Roen
Member
Roen
October 20, 2010 9:00 AM

correction to the above
It seems that the vast majority of humans really don’t care about our birth place in the cosmos.

Roen
Member
Roen
October 20, 2010 9:05 AM

@all:
If it seems that I am intolerant and harsh, it’s because tolerance and nice has gotten us climate change, extinction of species, the polluting of my water, food and the environment. It’s too late to be nice.

dog_boy_bastard
Member
dog_boy_bastard
October 20, 2010 9:09 AM
You know, I miss the old days when men were tough and did amazing things just to get them done. I’m tired of the whiney “it’s too expensive” or the pussy “it’s not safe” crap that has emasculated this damned country. We SHOULD build a giant space ship designed to peruse the solar system filled with a crew that goes from planet to planet to explore and investigate. We SHOULD have permanent manned presence on the moon and we SHOULD send a one way trip to Mars. Money doesn’t solve the crap problems everyone bitches about. People do. And the fact we still have them mean people do not want them solved, or don’t care. What we NEED… Read more »
Roen
Member
Roen
October 20, 2010 9:26 AM
@dog_boy_bastard: you say emasculated, I say grown up a little… and I mean very little. “a giant space ship designed to peruse the solar system filled with a crew that goes from planet to planet” “We SHOULD have permanent manned presence on the moon and we SHOULD send a one way trip to Mars.” These show the favour of arrogance over efficiency. “Money doesn’t solve the crap problems everyone bitches about. People do.” First of all, nice vernacular. Second, money does solve the “crap” problems when people direct it properly. The real problem is that PEOPLE DON’T. “What we NEED to do is get our asses off this planet.” Nice idea. Let’s ensure that less and less people… Read more »
Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
October 20, 2010 9:32 AM

given the fact that the agency has been redirected toward supporting commercial space firms, how this will be achieved has yet to be detailed.

It has not, and this new political and failed posturing by some of UT’s “reporters” get’s tired fast.

If anything commercial space firms have been redirected towards supporting NASA’s goal (more directly than before). But the development for exploration is all NASA.

Where did Nancy go? Always perfectly neutral reporting, AFAI can see. Get her back! grin

Creon Levit is a panegyric for Jack Sarfatti,

Oy! Say no more, but thanks Lawrence!

So it’s bad technology thrown in with bad reporting. Who would have guessed? eek

Roen
Member
Roen
October 20, 2010 9:33 AM

BTW, guys. I refuse to give this fight up. Mother Earth does not deserve rampant disrespect in favour of lofty goals that serve ego and nothing else.

I know we’re all doomed. I don’t hold any hope for this world. Humans would rather fight each other on a burning ship than work together to put the fire out. So, keep throwing the insults, it only serves to prove my point.

Roen
Member
Roen
October 20, 2010 9:36 AM

@Torbjorn Larsson OM: I agree with you about Nancy. I have always loved her work. She’s fair, logical and shows real talent.

lotusface
Member
lotusface
October 20, 2010 10:00 AM
Ok we can all see that it is a “dream” type endeavor to use ones time to engineer such an advanced system. It could be rationally argued that we should solve the major problems on earth prior to “colonizing” extra earth bodies, and I can see merit in that though NASA is probably the best at dealing with my personal issue with human migration: infecting the new places with old nasties we do not know about or care to monitor (historically-invasive animal species) and our ability to manipulate the environment without careful consideration has caused us many problems down the line. But we must remember that “ion drive” was coined on star trek and made a reality by… Read more »
Jacqo
Member
Jacqo
October 20, 2010 10:35 AM
It is humankinds legacy to explore to our existing and beyond our technologies that we possess. Not doing so will stagnate our future. Literally thousands of NASA patents are inexistance today because of Mercury, Gemini, & Apollo. Even at its hieght NASA’s highest budgetary grab of US Tax payer dollars was under 4% in 1967. Today its 4/10nths of 1%. Considering the dollars spent on playing the Roman Empire this is not even one penny on the dollar. Even ludicrous ideas need considering. If the US doesnt step up to the plate, other countries will. Most of the EU and other Asian countries have already contributed to the ISS. Ironically, most, if not all of the evidence concerning… Read more »
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