NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have jointly announced an award of 500,000 dollars grant to the person or group who can come up with the most effective idea about how human interstellar space travel can become a reality by next century.
A DARPA official last week announced the award with an aim to find out the most effective road map for financing and implementing a research and development program to lead to interstellar travel, reports the Christian Science Monitor.
The award, expected to be announced in November, represents the final stage in what by then will have been a year-long collaboration between DARPA and NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.
The money is what remains of an initial pot of 1 million dollars - mostly from DARPA - to get the project, dubbed the 100 Year Starship Study, going.
The technological hurdles alone of achieving interstellar space travel are high - driven by the enormous distances involved.
Indeed, funding is just as big a challenge as technology, explained David Neyland, director of the Tactical Technology Office at DARPA.
"Reaching the stars in the next century will require sustained interest and investment over a long period of time," he added.