DARPA Contest: The Logistics Getting Humans to Alpha Centauri
Posted: 18 August 2011 09:32 PM   [ Ignore ]
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source: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/200307/20110818/darpa-looking-to-fund-plan-that-sends-humans-to-another-star.htm

If you’ve got a plan to send humans to the stars or the dedication to develop one, DARPA wants to hear from you and, pay you a hefty sum to make it a success.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, the research and development arm of the U.S military, wants to award an organization $500,000 in seed money to begin a study that would send people to the stars.

The effort that began last year is called the 100-Year Starship study and a grant will be awarded on Nov. 11.

But that DARPA won’t babysit the chosen organization.

David Neyland, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, told Geek.com that his agency doesn’t intend to carry it forward. Instead, it will be handing the keys over to this entity and “wish them well.”

DARPA has said the 100-Year Starship study will examine the business model needed to develop and mature a technology portfolio enabling long-distance manned space flight a century from now.

Neyland also told Geek.com that nobody is actually smart enough to know what could come of the 100-Year Starship study and added that it would be naïve to even know what the right questions would be to ask right now. That report also noted that the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, is 4.4 light-years away from us.

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Posted: 18 August 2011 09:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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source: http://www.disinfo.com/2011/08/darpa-wants-to-send-humans-to-the-stars/

In what is perhaps the ultimate startup opportunity, Darpa, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, plans to award some lucky, ambitious and star-struck organization roughly $500,000 in seed money to begin studying what it would take — organizationally, technically, sociologically and ethically — to send humans to another star, a challenge of such magnitude that the study alone could take a hundred years.

The awarding of that grant, on Nov. 11 — 11/11/11 — is planned as the culmination of a yearlong Darpa-NASA effort called the 100-Year Starship Study, which started quietly last winter and will include a three-day public symposium in Orlando, Fla., on Sept. 30 on the whys and wherefores of interstellar travel. The agenda ranges far beyond rocket technology to include such topics as legal, social and economic considerations of interstellar migration, philosophical and religious concerns, where to go and — perhaps most important — how to inspire the public to support this very expensive vision.

The Darpa plan has generated buzz as well as befuddlement in the labs, pubs, diners and Web sites that ring NASA centers both physically and virtually, where the dream of space travel has never died and where a few stubborn bands of scientists and engineers, fueled by science fiction dreams and prophecies, are designing spacecraft that could cross interstellar space, incubating a technology and preserving it for the day when it will be used.

“If you want to have a hobby, why can’t it be designing an interstellar spacecraft?” said Andreas Tziolas, who teaches at the University of Alaska and directs Project Icarus, a worldwide volunteer effort to design a spacecraft that could carry a scientific probe to a nearby star — perhaps Alpha Centauri, 4.4 light-years from here — in a trip that would take less than 100 years…

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Posted: 18 August 2011 09:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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WE HEREBY INITIATE THE BIPT SPACE PROGRAM

spice_must_flow.jpg

This is essentially a question of sociology while covert Skunk Works propulsion engineering departments work out the details of Delivering the Payload. Since nobody’s actually gonna take off in 2011, despite the cool graphics, the real project is a terrestrial experiment in autonomous, sustainable human habitation in close quarters while they get conveyed, over huge timescales, to Alpha Centauri...to...what exactly?...the logistical demands of long-term survivability in a totally fatal environment are insane.

If you will allow us to quote that great scientific mind, George Herbert Walker Bush, we need to launch A Thousand Points of Light: each one a breakaway civilization program of willing volunteers submitting themselves to a generational experiment in radical social engineering. Doing this without becoming a Nazi nightmare will involve permaculture, e-prime, radical honesty, electromagnetic and Psilocybin telepathy, meditation and yoga, polyphasic sleep, approximately hella advances in psychoneuroimmunology, John Todd/New Alchemist “Living Technology” contained ecosystems for atmospheric renewal, waste processing and food production, but the big question remains how to run a long-term Biosphere without having it turn into Jonestown 20 years into the journey.

Awesomely illustrated document: A Reference Guide to the International Space Station - .pdf
http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/508318main_ISS_ref_guide_nov2010.pdf

Awesomely awesome: REGENERATIVE LIFE SUPPORT FOR SPACE SETTLERS
http://settlement.arc.nasa.gov/designer/regen.html

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Posted: 24 August 2011 10:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Not surprisingly, there’s a neologism that suits this endeavor perfectly: ARCOLOGY.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arcology

Arcology, a portmanteau of the words “architecture” and “ecology”, is a set of architectural design principles aimed toward the design of enormous habitats (hyperstructures) of extremely high human population density. These largely hypothetical structures would contain a variety of residential, commercial, and agricultural facilities and minimize individual human environmental impact. They are often portrayed as self-contained or economically self-sufficient.
The concept has been primarily popularized, and the term itself coined, by architect Paolo Soleri, and appears commonly in science fiction.

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Posted: 28 August 2011 04:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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...I can’t get past the cognitive dissonance of DARPA doing this. DEFENSE APPLICATIONS. Two words that put this whole project is a deeply scary light. This is a National Security imperative now.

And, perhaps related, email from a Brainsturbator reader:

...Remember DARPA is the ‘red team’ of the Pentagon establishment and not even project leaders are aware that they are engaged in redundant research and grappling with problems that have already been solved on a classified level often decades ago…

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Posted: 04 September 2011 06:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Source: NYT

The awarding of that grant, on Nov. 11 — 11/11/11 — is planned as the culmination of a yearlong Darpa-NASA effort called the 100-Year Starship Study, which started quietly last winter and will include a three-day public symposium in Orlando, Fla., on Sept. 30 on the whys and wherefores of interstellar travel. The agenda ranges far beyond rocket technology to include such topics as legal, social and economic considerations of interstellar migration, philosophical and religious concerns, where to go and — perhaps most important — how to inspire the public to support this very expensive vision.

....

Another lure could be the discovery of a habitable planet elsewhere, something that could happen in the next few years through the efforts of NASA’s Kepler satellite and related astronomical efforts, according to Jill Tarter, an astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., who has devoted her life to the search for extraterrestrials. “This will get real when we have an Earth analogue as a destination,” she said.

Pause. Refer to previous post. Contemplate.

David Neyland, Darpa’s director of tactical technology, is at pains to point out that the goal of his project is not an interstellar spacecraft, only a business plan for designing one. The search, he explained, is for an organization, presumably private, that can develop the interstellar vision without government help, carrying the load for the next 100 years, developing valuable technological offshoots the way investing in computer protocols enabled the Internet. (The time frame was inspired by Jules Verne, whose novel “From the Earth to the Moon” was published in 1865, 104 years before it came true.)

After this November, whoever it is will be on their own. “We don’t intend to carry it forward,” Mr. Neyland added. “Darpa hands the keys over to this entity, and we wish them well.”

...

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a group of physicists led by Theodore Taylor of General Atomics and Freeman Dyson of the Institute for Advanced Study proposed propelling a ship by the pressure waves from atomic bombs dropped one after another out of the back, every three seconds. Such a spacecraft, they calculated, could reach Jupiter in a year but would take hundreds of years to reach Alpha Centauri.

The British Interplanetary Society used a more benign form for this propulsion idea in its interstellar spaceship study, Project Daedalus, in the 1970s. Their spacecraft would be powered by tiny thermonuclear explosions caused by compressing pellets of deuterium and helium-3 with laser blasts. It would carry a 500-ton scientific probe to Barnard’s Star, 5.9 light-years away, in about 50 years, reaching a top speed of 12 percent of the speed of light along the way.

Dr. Tziolas said, “That was the very first study that proved it’s possible with knowledge we have now to travel to another star.”

...

Then again, nobody is smart enough now to know what could come of the starship effort, Mr. Neyland pointed out. It would be naïve to think we even know the right questions to ask.

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