The DARPA-seeded 100 Year Starship study is a long-term effort designed to foster interest and research in space exploration, and according to the BBC, it now has a leader: former astronaut Mae Jemison. A science mission specialist on the space shuttle Endeavour, Jemison was the first African-American woman to travel into space, and since leaving NASA in 1996 has been active in educational and outreach efforts through her Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence.
Announced last year, the 100 Year Starship program is a joint effort between DARPA and NASA, focused on encouraging private-sector investment into the disciplines associated with space exploration — of particular importance as public funding has dwindled in recent years. Its name comes from the length of time the program hopes to maintain pubic interest — 100 years — with the belief that long-term research will continue to reap benefits for the Department of Defense, as well as the commercial and private sectors. While DARPA has yet to confirm the appointment, the BBC reports that Jemison's team will receive $500,000 in seed money to enact her proposal, which was titled "An Inclusive Audacious Journey Transforms Life Here on Earth & Beyond."