The Daily Galaxy sheds light on our own Starship Enterprise project going on as we speak. Sadly none of us will be around to see it’s completion.
Starship Enterprise might have some competition: NASA Ames Director Simon “Pete” Worden has revealed that NASA Ames has “just started a project with DARPA called the Hundred Year Starship,” with $1 million funding from DARPA and $100K from NASA.
“We are [also] funding a young scientist to develop microwave thermal propulsion. The idea is if you can beam power to the spaceship, so you don’t have to carry all the fuel; and then you use that energy from a laser or microwave power to heat a propellant; it gets you a pretty big factor of improvement. I think that’s one way of getting off the world.”
Worden also cautioned that in settling on other worlds, we need to be cautious. “How do you live in another world? I don’t have the slightest idea,” he said. “If you’re a conservative, you worry about it killing us; if you’re a liberal, you worry about us killing it. I think things like synthetic biology have lot of potential for that. I think rather than make an environment on Mars like Earth, why don’t we modify life … including the human genome … so it’s better suited to [Mars]?
Wordon thinks we should go to the moons of Mars first, where we can do extensive telerobotics exploration of the planet. “I think we’ll be on the moons of Mars by 2030 or so.”
Worden also says NASA Ames is exploring another radical new concept: a heavy-lift airship that could carry hundreds of tons. “I think that could revolutionize air transport, because it becomes very cheap and still goes 100 knots. The idea is that you could easily go to Hawaii overnight, for example… with a lot less fuel.
“The long-term answer [to the rapidly accelerating growth of travel in the developing world and the increase in greenhouse gas] is a “Tesla in the air” — using high-density batteries powered off ground-based solar grids, so your airliner stays plugged in overnight, and it’s got an electrical engine rather than a chemical engine. I think within ten years we’ll have small-scale business-level ones, and within 20, they’ll be the airliners. If we don’t, I think aviation’s through.”
Casey Kazan via kurzweilai.net