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100 Year Starship Winner Announced

These are good times for Icarus Interstellar, which teamed with the Dorothy Jemison Foundation and the Foundation for Enterprise Development to win the 100 Year Starship proposal grant. Mae Jemison, the first female African-American astronaut to fly into space, founded DJF in honor of her late mother. As lead on the proposal, her organization now takes on the challenge of building a program that can last 100 years, and might one day result in a starship. Centauri Dreams congratulates the winning trio, and especially Kelvin Long, Richard Obousy and Andreas Tziolas, whose labors in reworking the Project Daedalus design at Icarus Interstellar have paid off. While the award was announced to the winners at the end of last week, I held up the news here while the three parties involved coordinated their own announcement. But I see that other venues are picking up the story, as in this Sharon Weinberger piece for the BBC and now a similar article in Popular Science, so it seems time to go ahead with at least a mention on Centauri Dreams while we await the official announcement from Jemison.


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  • Tony P January 6, 2012, 16:18

    Exciting news. The $500K does sound a bit meager though. Seems barely enough to cover the administrative stuff. How will we see the fruits of this? Will there be an actually designed probe/ship on paper, based on current and upcoming technologies, that can be peer reviewed?

    Tried to read the link from Popular Science but its pointing to a Berkeley paper on Kepler.

  • Paul Gilster January 6, 2012, 16:32

    Tony, sorry about the link — I just fixed it.

  • Adam Crowl January 6, 2012, 23:35

    Hi All

    As a Director of Icarus Interstellar, one of the triad which made the pitch to DARPA, I can elaborate a bit on just what we’re doing. Project Icarus will keep running as it has since 2009 and the end point will be an interstellar probe design, chiefly fusion propelled in the boost-phase. That’s due at some point in 2014.

    Icarus Interstellar is a broader banner for a whole group of interstellar related research projects, Project Icarus being just one, which will be producing designs and doing basic research with the common goal of building the technical foundation required for eventual successful interstellar flight.

    Now in light of this news, we’ll be under the banner of the 100 Year Starship Organization, which covers more than just the technical aspects. Each of the triad came to our happy union with different strengths and emphases – Mae Jemison’s organization covering education and broader social goals, the Foundation for Enterprise Development covering innovative organization and operational approaches, and Icarus Interstellar covering the technical aspects. Together we’ll be working towards an Organization that will last 100 years and produce a viable interstellar technology, with benefits for all humankind.

  • Wikipedia is Your Friend January 7, 2012, 9:06

    “Mae Jemison, the first African-American astronaut to fly into space, founded DJF in honor of her late mother.”

    Fact check much?

    I believe you meant to write: “Mae Jemison, the first African-American female astronaut to fly into space, founded DJF in honor of her late mother.”

    Guion Stewart “Guy” Bluford, Jr was the first African-American astronaut to fly into space.

  • Paul Gilster January 7, 2012, 9:30

    Good point. I’ve corrected the entry.

  • Martyn Fogg January 7, 2012, 20:31

    Congratulations to all involved, including the losing bidders. A rolling stone gathers no moss and the efforts of all of those who have contributed to this ambition over the years have provided the momentum. Keep rolling.

  • jkittle January 8, 2012, 12:59

    Adam – congratulations on the project funding and hope to hear from you often in this forum. This modest amount money is a step on a very long road but some may say” the interstellar journey now begins”. Many of us care about this strongly and love the ride.

  • ljk January 9, 2012, 10:08

    To Mr. Wikipedia Is Your Friend a.k.a. Fact Check Much – you want to get really technical? The first black (and Hispanic) person in space was Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez, who flew on Soyuz 38 in 1980 and stayed about the Soviet Salyut 6 space station for one week.


    Maybe next time when you point out an error to Paul you could at least be polite about it. This wasn’t some Earth shaking issue.

  • ljk January 12, 2012, 14:39
  • Daniel Fischer February 3, 2012, 10:17

    Four weeks have passed now, and http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases.aspx still doesn’t carry an official announcement – does that mean something?

  • Paul Gilster February 3, 2012, 10:20

    I have no idea, Daniel. Would have expected it to have been posted by now.