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'Hundred-Year Starship' Would Send Space Explorers On One-Way Mission To Mars

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"The human space program is now really aimed at settling other worlds," NASA Ames Research Center director Simon Worden said at the Long Conversation talk in San Francisco, according to Kurzweil AI.

With that goal in mind, writes PopSci, NASA and the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are embarking on a "Hundred-Year Starship" program, which will bring space travelers to other planets and leave them there.

The first planet in sight? It may be Mars.

Worden expects the program to take off within the next two decades. "I think we'll be on the moons of Mars by 2030 or so," Worden said, according to Kurzweil AI.

So far, NASA has contributed $100,000 to the project, and DARPA has chipped in $1 million, according to Gear Log. That isn't nearly enough for blast-off, but Worden hopes to convince additional individuals to invest.

"[Google co-founder] Larry [Page] asked me a couple weeks ago how much it would cost to send people one way to Mars and I told him $10 billion, and his response was, 'Can you get it down to 1 or 2 billion?' So now we're starting to get a little argument over the price," Worden said.

NASA has few details on the program. The Huffington Post has contacted the organization for a comment regarding the initiative.

How feasible is a colony on Mars?

As PopSci points out, in the October-November edition of the Journal of Cosmology, a paper titled "To Boldly Go: A One-Way Human Mission to Mars" explains that Mars's similarities to Earth make it an ideal site for human exploration and, possibly, settlement.

Dirk Schulze-Makuch and Paul Davies, who co-authored the paper, argue that a one-way mission is favorable for two reasons. First, writes Science Daily, "because the greatest portion of the expense is tied up in safely returning the crew and spacecraft to earth." The second reason is that leaving people on Mars could lead to "long-term human colonization of the planet."

In their paper, Schulze-Makuch and Davis compared potential settlers of a Martian colony to the first Europeans who explored uncharted North America, Science Daily reports. They predict that a Martian settlement could be could be extremely useful to researchers and may even serve as a "lifeboat" in case a "mega-catastrophe" occurs on Earth.

Buzz Aldrin argued "we can be well on our way to Mars by July 20, 2019" and believes in building a colony on Mars. He told Vanity Fair, "I'm convinced that sending people to Mars is so expensive that if you go once and bring the people back and then go again and bring the people back, we're eventually going to run out of money. But what if we send people the first time and they don't come back? What if they stay there?"

See incredible images of Mars.

[via The Week]

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