That must have taken guts. Or ignorance.
By not knowing they were supposed to be inventing the real-world version of things Wells had already blue-skyed about, Einstein, von Braun, Goddard, Oberthand Laika helped prove a law of practical technology, if not of real science:
If you set yourself to wait for the perfection of a technology you're sure will solve all your problems, you'll die of old age or go broke before it's finished. And, by focusing on just on way of solving a whole series of complex problems, you'll miss half a dozen simpler, cheaper solutions built bit by jury-rigged bit and then turned into real technology.
Trying to imagine the kind of vessel we might be able to build in 100 years – down to predicting the kind of fuel it will use – is a sure path to someone's wall of fools, not the annals of science.
On the other hand, the odd, detail-free charter of the 100YSS is also a strength; Jemison said she intends to build a real starship, but only as the end product of a century's worth of education, promotion of education, broad-based scientific and technical development of the kind the government should promote through schools and corporations should promote in open-source development labs and workshops.
Jemison hasn't started a starship manufactory; she's started a skunk works designed to crank out not starships, but educated, curious, inventive, practical minds with the skills to turn over rocks to discover secrets the universe has hidden there.
She has started a movement to pick the best ideas from the best minds to overcome the gravity of Earth, distance of space and self-defeat of her fellow primates, to clear a path not to a single starship, but to the future itself.
Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.
Icarus Project/Adrian Mann