Starship Congress is the interstellar summit that Icarus Interstellar is hosting this summer in Dallas, August 15-18. As an event, Starship Congress will play host and give voice to a wide variety of interstellar organizations and distinguished proponents from the interstellar community.
Day 1—Interstellar Now (Next 20 years)
Day 1 will examine what we can do today and for the next twenty years. The aim is getting the interstellar community to think about critical building blocks needing to be addressed in the near term in order to establish the correct social, economic and technological conditions leading to the building and launch of a starship before the end of the century.
NBF on the next 20 years in space
Keys here are Spacex and other reusable spacecraft to lower costs and enable near space industrialization, development and colonization
Planetary Resources being able to develop asteroid resources would be helpful along with making satellites cost only about $100,000 instead of tens of millions.
Superconductors should become cheaper, more powerful and available in higher volume. This will help with better propulsion, power and radiation protection.
Inflatable space habitats will help mostly once low cost access is resolved
Additive manufacturing could lower costs and help bootstrap industrialization. Making space concrete using in-situ materials will reduce supply chain issues and enable more robust industrialization
Energy and propulsion breakthroughs will help. Electric sails and solar sails seem on the verge on making significant impact.
Synthetic biology could enable advances in feeding ourselves in space and making biosystems that reduce supply chain constraints.
Day 2—Interstellar This Lifetime (20-50 years)
DAY 2 will be focused on semi-realistic targets for what we may see accomplished from 20-to-50 years from now. Likely areas of discussion will be technologies that are presently considered to be at low-technology readiness level (TRL). On the propulsion side of things this will include fusion and antimatter rockets. There will also be discussions on the human exploration and colonization of our own solar system as a plausible next-step on way to becoming an interstellar civilization.
NBF on 20-50 years
Keys for how much is done is if we make the big breakthroughs in molecular nanotechnology, advanced synthetic biology and nuclear fusion, superconductor-antimatter harvesting. Space capabilities could make a huge leap and the overall economy could have a lot of growth so more space development would be affordable.
Even semi-advanced nanotechnology capabilities could allow for massive ultrathin solar sail construction. Huge solar sails that were only nanometers thick (graphene or carbon nanotubes) could have very close flybys of the sun and enable a gravity slingshot and solar propulsion to get to about 6% of lightspeed without any other infrastructure or technology.
Really good superconductors and there would be magnetic sails for deceleration.
Interstellar space probes would be enabled with solar sails, magnetic sails and a moderate molecular nanotechnology capability. In solar system issues would become trivial.
Day 3—Interstellar Future (50-500 years)
DAY 3 will be focused on topics that are deemed speculative by today’s standards. Warp drives, wormholes, the extraction of energy from the quantum vacuum, are examples of the kinds of talks and discussions that are planned. In addition, papers and presentations are anticipated on ‘mega-engineering’ projects such as space elevators and terraforming. The consideration of social aspects of long distance space exploration will be talked about.
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Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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