The big European science conference organised under auspices of the Irish EU Presidency was titled ‘Global Challenges, Global Collaboration’ and aimed at bringing together people from industry, science and policy making. One of the most imaginative topics was the 100 Year Starship initiative (100YSS), presented by another former astronaut, dr. Mae Jemison. “This project pushes us to think about ourselves from a different perspective.”
Energy for propulsion
“Our initiative is meant to ensure that we gain the capabilities to send humans to another stellar system in 100 years’ time”, Ms. Jemison explained. “The challenge of course is that we cannot do that with our current technology. One of the fundamental issues is energy for propulsion. You will have to find some incredibly powerful energy sources.”
At the conference a wide range of starship-related topics were covered, from propulsion, navigation and communication to systems engineering, data management and remote sensing. And what about the social sciences and behavioural sciences? If you’re stuck together on a starship for years it might be a good idea to avoid fights and get along with each other nicely.
Lotions for skin wounds from space
What are the building blocks for making interstellar travel possible? Deep space missions may increase crew exposure to a low gravity environment that adversely affects wound and fracture healing, a problem that burn victims and diabetics know all too well. The 100 Years Starship initiative therefore works on developing injectable lotion and biomaterials that can speed up the healing of skin wounds.
“The project is based upon a novel microencapsulation system that traps proteins and mesenchymal or connective tissue stem cells (MSCs) in microspheres made of synthetic hydrogels. MSCs and certain pro-repair proteins demonstrably aid in repair of injured tissues like skin, muscle and bone.”
The 100 Year Starship initiative declares dedication “to identifying and pushing the radical leaps in knowledge and technology needed to achieve interstellar flight while pioneering and transforming breakthrough applications to enhance the quality of life for all on earth each step of the way. We actively seek to include the broadest swath of people and human experience in understanding, shaping and implementing this global aspiration.”