June 23, 2011

DARPA Spaceflight Challenge: 100-year Starship Study

A US government research agency is looking for commercial firms to dream up a way to send people to a star and the Pentagon is offering a $500,000 prize for anyone who can come up with a realistic idea.

So far, 150 challengers answered the Pentagon's call for private sector cosmic projects and ideas, and, according to officials, some big industry names are among those interested.

The government's plan is to have interstellar travel within a century.

The trademark 100-year Starship Study concept is derived from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is spending about $1 million on the project. The agency will decide who gets the money after presentations are made at a conference later this year.

The 100-year Starship Study is an effort to develop a viable and sustainable model for continuing private-sector investment into the disciplines needed to make long-distance space travel possible, and practicable.

DARPA also hopes the study will encourage students, academia, industry, researchers and the general population to become interested in the concept and to also encourage new research and development related to all the issues surrounding long-duration, long-distance spaceflight.

DARPA contends that the consequences of such results will strongly benefit the Department of Defense and NASA, as well as private and commercial sectors.

DARPA is supported in this effort by NASA Ames Research Center, who will act as the execution agent on DARPA's behalf.