100 Year Starship

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The 100 Year Starship project (100YSS) was a joint U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) program that offered grants to private entities. The goal of the main study grant was to create a business plan that fosters the research and technology needed for interstellar travel within 100 years.[1][2][3] The study grant was awarded to a consortium under the lead of the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, which led to the foundation of an independent organization with the name 100 Year Starship.[4][5] Annual 100YSS symposia were organized from 2011 to 2015.[6]


The 100 Year Starship project was announced by NASA Ames Research Center director Pete Worden at San Francisco's Long Conversation conference in October 2010.[7] In a DARPA press release officially announcing the effort,[8] program manager Paul Eremenko, who also served as the study coordinator, explained that the endeavor was meant to excite future generations to commit to the research and development of breakthrough technologies to advance the goal of interstellar space travel.[9]


The 100 Year Starship study was the name of a one-year project to assess the possibilities for an organization that could develop the 100 Year Starship vision.[10][11] The winning bid to spearhead the study was the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, partnering with Icarus Interstellar and the Foundation for Enterprise Development, led by the American physician and former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison.[4][12] In 2012, the consortium was awarded a $500,000 grant for further work. The new organization maintained the organizational name 100 Year Starship.[13] It was planned that the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence would team up with Icarus Interstellar, where the latter would work on the technical challenges of 100YSS.[13][14]

100 Year Starship Symposia[edit]

Before the solicitation for the foundation, the 100 Year Starship project was preceded by a conference held in Orlando, Florida, from September 30 to October 2, 2011, co-sponsored by DARPA and NASA, organized by DARPA's Tactical Technology Office director, David Neyland.[2][3] The conference included presentations on the technology, biology, physics, philosophy, sociology, and economics of interstellar flight.[10] Selected papers from the conference were published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society.[clarification needed]

After the Jemison Foundation was named as the winner of the grant, it organized the second symposium in 2012 in Houston. Papers on many subjects related to interstellar flight and organizational foundations were presented.[10] In 2013 and 2014 symposia were held in Houston,[15] and a fifth in November 2015.[16]

Canopus Awards[edit]

In 2015, the 100 Year Starship project hosted its first Canopus Awards for excellence in interstellar writing.[17] The winners were announced October 30, 2015, at the symposium:[18]

  • Previously Published Long-Form Fiction (40,000 words or more): InterstellarNet: Enigma, by Edward M. Lerner (FoxAcre). ISBN 978-1936771646
  • Previously Published Short-Form Fiction (1,000–40,000 words): "The Waves," by Ken Liu (Asimov's 12/12)
  • Original Fiction (1,000–5,000 words): "Everett's Awakening," by Yelcho (i.e., R. Buckalew)
  • Original Nonfiction (1,000–5,000 words): "Finding Earth 2.0 from the Focus of the Solar Gravitational Lens," by Louis Friedman and Slava Turyshev

A second Canopus Award competition was run in 2019.[19] The winners were:

  • Previously Published Long-Form Fiction (40,000 words or more): The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu, Translated by Ken Liu (published by Tor)
  • Previously Published Short-Form Fiction (1,000–40,000 words): "Slow Bullets," by Alastair Reynolds (published by Tachyon Publications)
  • Previously Published Nonfiction (1,000–40,000 words): Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet, by Buzz Aldrin and Marianne Dyson (published by National Geographic)
  • Original Fiction (1,000–5,000 words): "The Quest for New Cydonia," by Russell Hemmell
  • Original Nonfiction (1,000–5,000 words): "Microbots—The Seeds of Interstellar Civilization," by Robert Buckalew
  • Original College Writing (1,000–5,000 words): "A Kingdom of Ends," by Ryan Burgess


The 100 Year Starship was named in 2012 by U.S. Senator Tom Coburn as one of the 100 most wasteful government spending projects. Coburn specifically cited a 100 Year Starship workshop that included one session, titled "Did Jesus Die for Klingons Too?" that debated the implications for Christian philosophy should life be found on other planets.[20][21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Overbye, Dennis (August 18, 2011). "Offering Funds, U.S. Agency Dreams of Sending Humans to Stars". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b Chang, Kenneth (October 17, 2011). "Not Such a Stretch to Reach for the Stars". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  3. ^ a b Belfiore, Michael (September 30, 2011). "To Infinity and Beyond at DARPA's 100-Year Starship Symposium". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  4. ^ a b Weinberger, Sharon (5 January 2012). "Former astronaut to lead starship effort". BBC News. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  5. ^ Gilster, Paul (6 January 2012). "100 Year Starship Winner Announced". Centauri Dreams. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  6. ^ "100 Year Starship". Archived from the original on 2017-07-24. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  7. ^ Brandon, John (October 29, 2010). "Is NASA Covering Up the 100-Year Starship?". FoxNews.com. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  8. ^ "DARPA/NASA Seek to Inspire Multigenerational Research and Development". Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Archived from the original on 10 August 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  9. ^ Page, Lewis (November 3, 2010). "DARPA, NASA team on '100-Year Starship' project: plan to invent Heinlein style miracle nonprofit first". The Register. Retrieved 18 June 2014. The 100-Year Starship study will examine the business model needed to develop and mature a technology portfolio enabling long-distance manned space flight a century from now.
  10. ^ a b c "100 Year Starship Study 2012 Public Symposium" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 27, 2012.
  11. ^ "The 100-Year Starship Study" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 3, 2011.
  12. ^ Gilster, Paul (6 January 2012). "100 Year Starship Winner Announced". Centauri Dreams. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  13. ^ a b Andersen, Ross (February 2012). "Project Icarus: Laying the Plans for Interstellar Travel". The Atlantic. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  14. ^ O'Neill, Ian (May 2012). "Uniting the Planet for a Journey to Another Star". NBC News. Retrieved 9 January 2022.
  15. ^ "100 Year Simposium 2014". 2013. Archived from the original on 2014-05-26. Retrieved 2014-05-25.
  16. ^ "100 Year Starship symposium". www.nibib.nih.gov. Archived from the original on 2020-01-02. Retrieved 2020-01-02.
  17. ^ "100 Year Starship Celebrates Halloween Eve Awarding First Interstellar Writing Prize During Science Fiction Stories Night". 100yss.org. 20 October 2015. Archived from the original on 2016-08-13. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  18. ^ "Locus Online News » Canopus Award Winners". www.locusmag.com. Retrieved 2015-11-02.
  19. ^ "100 YEAR STARSHIP ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF THE SECOND CANOPUS AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE IN INTERSTELLAR WRITING". Archived from the original on 2013-03-16. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  20. ^ Dinan, Stephen (November 15, 2012). "Pentagon wants to know: 'Did Jesus die for Klingons too?'". Washington Times. Archived from the original on 2012-11-15.
  21. ^ Javers, Eamon (Nov 15, 2012). "Did Jesus Die for Klingons, Too? The Pentagon Wants to Know". CNBC. Archived from the original on 2013-01-27.

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