Mae Jemison has achieved more in her fifty-five years on Planet Earth than most people can hope to achieve in their entire lifetime. Not only does she hold the unique distinction of being the first African-American woman to venture into space, she is also a dancer, has appeared in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and holds nine honorary doctorates in science, engineering and the humanities. Small wonder, then, that this former NASA astronaut has been selected to lead a foundation that is destined to take humanity to the stars.
The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and NASA are sponsoring the project, known as the One-Hundred Year Starship – its mission: to create a foundation that will last for one hundred years to help gather the resources, research and funding required for effective interstellar travel.
“It might sound audacious,” says the Managing Director of A Vision Network, a marketing firm which has been watching the project with interest, “but if we are to ever live among the stars we need to pull together to build for that future.”
Which is exactly what the One-Hundred Year Starship project aims to achieve. The project will not be leaning on any single government to fund a mission into deep space, but rather will gather current technologies, and any new technology as it becomes available, while simultaneously exploiting scientific breakthroughs in order to further our understanding of space and increase the chances of the human race reaching other worlds.
Mae Jemison is clearly the perfect candidate to take the helm of the One-Hundred Year Starship. Since leaving NASA she has launched the Dorothy Jemison School of Excellence, which is partnered on the DARPA project with Icarus Interstellar (a non-profit organisation dedicated to interstellar travel), and the Foundation for Enterprise Development.
A Vision Network’s MD is not surprised someone like Mae was picked to head the project; “Just look at Mrs Jemison’s CV. She was born to work on something like this. It’s in her blood.”
Mae and her team submitted a proposal entitled ‘An Inclusive Audacious Journey Transforms Life Here on Earth & Beyond’, for which they were awarded a prize of $500,000, intended to get the project up and running.
According to the BBC News website, a spokesman from DARPA declined to comment on the prize fund, which at the time the story was published was yet to be publicly announced.
“The money doesn’t sound like much,” said A Vision Network’s MD, “and to be honest, since NASA relaxed its efforts, space is a topic most people seem to have given up on. But the One-Hundred Year Starship Project is a clear way forward, and Mae Jemison may be the perfect leader to get a century of effort and innovation off to a flying start.”