From the same people who brought you the internet and bombing the moon, there is an exciting new effort to build a long distance interstellar travel program. Exciting if you can wait 100 years. DARPA and NASA's Ames Research Center are pairing up to look into the foundation and business model necessary to accomplish some serious space travel in another century.
Their goal is a noble one; inspire a multigenerational effort to do now what is necessary to accomplish this huge task in 100 years. Because something this big will take many generations and extensive planning. It will take government funding, private business models, and scientists and engineers inching us closer to the technology needed while an inspired public encourages the efforts that will get us into space again. It hearkens back of course to the space race: the Apollo program and JFK's still chilling words (at least to me). The words that let us look beyond elections and taxes and deficits and think about where we really want to go. Turn our eyes to the stars and think about what could be of America's scientists and engineers.
We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
Still gives me goosebumps when I hear the audio. So maybe DARPA and NASA's effort seems a little too far reaching, a little impossible and unsustainable, maybe even naive. But if we could go to the moon in a year when my TI-83 would be the size of a room, maybe this too is possible. Or in the words of the poet Robert Browning,
Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,or what's a heaven for?