London, Jan 9 - Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to go into space in 1992, has been chosen to head the 100-year Starship project.
Jemison's project will explore what it would take for a multi-generational mission beyond the solar system.
Jemison, 55, played a key role in setting up the 100-year Starship symposium organised last year by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration - and the Pentagon's Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency in Florida, US.
That led to the award of a $500,000 contract by the agency to study what is needed for long-term projects such as interstellar space missions, reports the Daily Mail.
With the money in the bank, Jemison's group, the Houston-based Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, now has to take on the challenge of building a programme that can last 100 years which hopefully will result in a Starship.
The foundation has teamed with Icarus Interstellar and the Foundation for Enterprise Development. Adam Crowl, director of Icarus Interstellar, said: 'Project Icarus will be producing designs and doing basic research with the common goal of building the technical foundation required for eventual successful interstellar flight.'
'Together we'll be working towards an organisation that will last 100 years and produce a viable interstellar technology, with benefits for all humankind,' he added.