June 25, 2012
Will We Ever Make It To Outer Space?
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com
There was a lot of talk this weekend in Santa Clara, California about not only the possibility of taking trips to outer space, but how we might get there as well. Looking outward, astrobiologists, astronauts, space experts and a number of enthusiasts gathered together at this year´s SETIcon II to discuss all things cosmic.Two of the aforementioned experts at SETIcon were Bill Nye (the Science Guy) and Dr. Mae Jemison (the first woman of color in space, as well as the founder of the 100 Year Starship program.)
These two sat down at a panel with other experts in a packed conference room, cameras flashing all the while as members committed this memorable occasion to film or hard drives.
Rather than explain what the 100 Year Starship is, Dr. Jemison spent much of her time on the panel talking about what the program isn´t.
For instance, the name 100 Year Starship conjures up images of a giant flying ship, traversing the next frontier as easy as a science fiction novella. Dr. Jemison was quick to mention her new program isn´t aiming to build the spaceship; Rather, they plan to lay down the ground work. As Dr. Jemison said on stage, “Our task is not necessarily to create the vehicle that is going to go, it´s to make sure that if someone within the next 100 years decides to mount a mission that the technologies are there and in place.” All told, Dr. Jemison´s organization hopes to be a part of taking humans to deep space somewhere in the next century.
The 100 Year Starship program also aims to be completely inclusive, utilizing the specific skills and personalities of each creed and nation to bring the human race to the stars. As such, there are many ideas, possibilities and thoughts being discussed as they roll out their program. For instance, how do we get the technology in place? According to Dr. Jemison, this kind of feat can only happen if people see the benefit of space exploration.
“In order for this to happen, everyone has to see how it applies to the Earth right now. How does it make a difference to us?”
“It needs to have some direct application now”
According to Bill Nye, however, direct application isn´t the only aspect of this venture we´re missing.
“We´re really thinking inside the box, when we are thinking about this spacecraft carrying people,” said Nye.
Not only are there other ways to get to outer space that we may be missing, says Nye, there are also other reasons to go to outer space that we may not be considering. As a for instance, Mr. Nye mentioned of how scientists had largely considered the universe to be slowing down whereas, now, it is considered to be accelerating. In the same way, what we understand now will likely be changed once we get to outer space. Continuing, Mr. Nye said there were a few things which will be absolutely essential to space exploration.
Namely, “We need a spacecraft that spins. We need artificial gravity,” said Nye.
The 100 Year Starship program, hopes Nye, will further these technologies and make them available to future generations, if not our own.
Though not alone, Mr. Nye was not shy about his desire and willingness to make the trip to outer space himself one day. He did, however, speak directly to those in the audience who said they were willing to take a one-way trip to Mars.
“The problem is, it´s freakin´ cold, and they don´t have anything for us to breathe if you go there.”