London, Sep 7 (IANS) Project Daedelous, so far the most audacious plan to place humans on a star within 100 years, would develop a gigantic spaceship weighing 50,000 tonnes that could travel at blinding speeds of about 80 million mph powered by nuclear fusion, its developers say.
Mae Jemison, who became the first black woman in space in 1992, has been chosen to skipper the project, set up with the US military seed funding. She will explore what it would take for a multi-generational mission beyond the solar system.
"The 100-year starship will make the capability of human travel beyond our solar system to another star a reality over the next 100 years," she said, according to the Daily Mail.
Conceived by the British Interplanetary Society, Project Daedelous was a 13-member volunteer engineering design study conducted between 1973 and 1978 to demonstrate that interstellar travel was feasible in theory.
The basis of this belief was the demonstration of a credible engineering design just at the outset of the space age that could in theory, cross the interstellar distances.
Project Daedalus demonstrated that with current and near future technology interstellar travel is feasible.
The project began with an award by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of a $500,000 contract to study what is needed for long-term projects such as interstellar space missions.
The group has teamed with Icarus Interstellar and the Foundation for Enterprise Development.
Adam Crowl, director of Icarus Interstellar, said: "Project Icarus will be producing designs and doing basic research with the common goal of building the technical foundation required for eventual successful interstellar flight."
However, the team does not underestimate the task. It has already produced a list of what needs to be done
"A venture to the stars will require the creation of revolutionary energy generation, storage and control systems, advanced propulsion systems, radical advancements in closed-loop and life-support systems".
Besides these it would also require "new insights into human development, health, behaviour and training, as well as advances in robotics, automation, intelligent systems, and manufacturing techniques," says Project Icarus website.