JEMISON: Interstellar travel, and then when you add interstellar travel with humans on board, leaving our star system and going to another star system, is a really difficult problem.
Mae Jemison knows about space travel. She was an astronaut for six years, and in 1992 she flew on a space shuttle science mission.
Today, though, she’s aiming much higher than Earth orbit. She heads a project known as the 100-Year Starship. Started with funding from the Defense Department and NASA, it’s an effort to develop the technology, infrastructure, and will to send a ship to the stars within the next century. The project will host its annual meeting this week in Houston.
JEMISON: There's some really interesting research that's going on. It's very scattered. One of the things that we're going to try to do with 100-Year Starship is how do we really get and bring people together collectively to actually think about these things in groups.
The project will look at everything from new forms of propulsion to the clothes that people will wear as they spend years journeying to the stars. And it’ll try to build excitement for what could be the ultimate human adventure.
JEMISON: I'm struck by an African proverb: No one shows a child the sky. Looking up at the stars is a collective human experience. There would be very, very few people who haven't wondered what the stars were like. Not saying everybody wants to go — that's not the point. But everybody, if you could just say, would you like a little peek? I don't think there are very many people who would say ‘No, I don't really care what's up there.’
Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2013
For more skywatching tips, astronomy news, and much more, read StarDate magazine.