Consider the Voyager 1 spacecraft, which earlier this year made international headlines after becoming the first man-made object to depart the solar system after nearly 40 years of zipping away from
The interstellar chasm is so great it's audacious -- some might say preposterous -- to consider sending humans to visit worlds around other stars.
"All my life I've liked challenges," said Jemison, the first black woman to fly in space.
This seemingly crazy notion of flying to distant worlds has begun to shake off some of the "giggle" factor in recent years, however.
Foremost, in 2011,
"The 100 Year Starship study is about more than building a spacecraft or any one specific technology," said
A group organized by Jemison won the grant and created the 100 Year Starship program, based in
The idea of interstellar human travel has gained further credence during the last decade because, for the first time in human history, scientists have begun to find
"That's something that keenly, achingly informs their work and their thoughts," Billings said. "These researchers realize they are part of what may be a much greater, grander story that begins but does not end upon the
It is one thing, of course, to glimpse shadows of these planets on their stars. It is quite another to fly humans to them. Of this, Jemison is aware.
During an interview, she cited a 1901 novel written by
"We knew very little about anything in terms of space technology and rocketry when that book was written, and yet 70 years later we were on the moon," Jemison said. "Our technological arc is much steeper now. We're at a point where our knowledge and our ability to research and find out things is much greater than it was in 1901. So while it may be a really, really hard problem, I don't think it's beyond human capabilities."
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