The Pentagon’s experimental research and development branch, known as DARPA, has committed $500,000 toward developing a framework to send a manned mission to another star by 2112. The money was given to a foundation run by Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space, who will emphasize inclusiveness as an essential value to interstellar space travel. “It makes a difference who’s on board, aspect-wise, gender-wise, geography-wise, national origin,” said Jemison. “Everyone needs to be involved and we need to pay attention to that.” Jemison’s foundation will help develop the technical, cultural, legal and financial frameworks for a manned mission to another star system.
What’s the Big Idea?
Since the first private space vehicle docked with the International Space Station last week, our dreams of ambitious space travel have been born again. And while travelling to another star seems far beyond our current reach, spaceflight itself was perhaps impossible for the Wright brothers to imagine. We may be at a point of inflection, a moment where we complete space travel’s version of the Wrights’ 12-second flight. When the time comes to leave Earth, “I just hope we’re not running from war…or that we’ve run out of resources,” said Jemison.