Please allow me to interrupt your nightly preliminary election math and midterm voting eve Twitter avatar decorating for a WTF story that's out of this world.
"The director of NASA's Ames Research Center in California casually let slip mention of the 100-Year Starship recently, a new program funded by the super-secret government agency, DARPA. In a talk at San Francisco's Long Conversation conference, Simon “Pete” Worden said DARPA has $1M to spend, plus another $100,000 from NASA itself, for the program, which will initially develop a new kind of propulsion engine that will take us to Mars or beyond.
There's only one problem: The astronauts won't come back."
Come again? Won't come back? What will they do there?
“The human space program is now really aimed at settling other worlds," Worden explained.
Settling other worlds? Colonizing Mars? Whoa.
Director Worden was fired by President Bush (43) for, presumably, whispering about such an unethical ambition. Worden was returned to his post under President Barack "I'm not doing long-term nation-building. I am not spending a trillion dollars." Obama.
According to Wired.com, Dir. Worden is interested in some elite private funding:
“We also hope to inveigle some billionaires to form a Hundred Year Starship fund”
Inveigle? Interesting word choice...
Wired.com added that Worden has chatted up Google's Larry Page:
“Larry 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?,’” Worden told the Long Now audience. “So now we’re starting to get a little argument over the price.”
Private funding for the space program to colonize Mars? My mind is officially blown.