The Icarus Interstellar Starship Congress aims to bring together the interstellar community to foster discussion and generate tangible action. Our ambition is to move humanity toward becoming an interstellar civilization, with a broad campaign of exploration and migration to begin by the year 2100.
Day 1 part 1 video up to about 3 hours and 39 minutes
8:00am Registration Open | Coffee
9:00am Introduction to Day 1
9:15am Keynote: Jim Benford, “Sail Ships”
Microwave and laser-propelled sails are a new class of spacecraft using acceleration by photon reflection. It is the only method of interstellar flight that has no physics issues. Laboratory demonstrations of basic features of beam-driven propulsion, flight, stability (‘beam-riding’), and induced spin, have been completed in the last decade, primarily in the microwave. It offers much lower cost probes after a substantial investment in the launcher. Engineering issues are being addressed by other applications: fusion (microwave, millimeter and laser sources) and astronomy (large aperture antennas). There are many candidate sail materials: carbon nanotubes and microtrusses, beryllium, graphene, etc. Cost of interstellar sailships is very high, driven by current costs for radiation source, antennas and especially electrical power. Cost can be used to constrain design parameters to estimate system power, aperture and elements of capital and operating cost, including economies of scale. We present several starship point concepts. The high speeds necessary for fast interstellar missions make the operating cost exceed the capital cost.
10:00am Presentation 1: Les Johnson, “Status of Solar Sail Propulsion: Sneaking up on an Interstellar Capability”
Solar Sail propulsion has been validated in space (IKAROS, 2010) and several more solar-sail propelled spacecraft will soon be flown. Solar sails reflect sunlight to achieve thrust, thus eliminating the need for costly and often very-heavy fuel. Such “propellantless” propulsion will enable whole new classes of space science and exploration missions previously not considered possible due to the propulsive-intense maneuvers and operations required. Solar Sail Propulsion (SSP) is an enabling technology for interstellar missions and their precursors, capable of providing rapid trip times and potentially allowing 250 – 1000 AU interstellar precursor missions to be launched within the next quarter century. SSP is a high-priority new technology within The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and several potential future space missions have been identified that will require it. Small and mid-sized technology demonstration missions using solar sails have flown or will soon fly in space. Multiple mission concept studies have been performed to determine the system level SSP requirements for their implementation and, subsequently, to drive the content of relevant technology programs. The status of SSP technology and potential future missions, and their relevance to future interstellar missions will be described.
10:25am Presentation 2: Charles Quarra, “The Laser Starway: a Light Bridge to the Closest Stars”
Physicist and software developer Charles J. Quarra has been announced as a speaker for Icarus Interstellar’s 2013 Starship Congress, with a talk titled ”The Laser Star Way: A Light Bridge to the closest Stars.”
Mr. Quarra was influenced early on in his life by two books: The Science in Science Fiction by Peter Nicholls, and The Cosmic Connection by Carl Sagan. Among the phenomena that are ubiquitous in science fiction, artificial intelligence and wormhole engineering intrigued him the most. This latter led him to eventually obtain a degree in theoretical and mathematical physics from Simon Bolivar University in Venezuela. However, as it turned out, wormholes proved to be a harder nut to crack than he anticipated, so he moved on to a career as a programmer and software developer. Still, from time to time he goes back to the problem of fast interstellar travel in his spare time.
In his Starship Congress talk, The Laser Star Way: A Light Bridge to the closest Stars, Mr. Quarra will address questions such as – must the wheel always precede the road? And, what if, in order to reach for the nearest stars, we first have to develop a kind of interstellar highway for the ships to travel on?
In addition, Mr. Quarra’s talk will analyze the basic feasibility of a stable chain of equidistant optical laser relays, forwarding laser power between two stars as a way to provide beamed power to interstellar ships travelling along the entire length of the flight. Among other aspects, the engineering challenges of manufacturing and maintaining such interstellar highways will be discussed.
11:00am Presentation 3: Eric Malroy, “Lightsails and Nanotech”
11:25am Presentation 4: Martin Halbert, “Scenarios for Long-term Interstellar Distributed Data Networks”
Assuming that mankind transitions into a period of long-term exploration via starships encompassing centuries, it is likely that a network of distributed interstellar nodes for information aggregation will gradually begin to form. What scenario planning can we conduct today in anticipation of such network formation? What do historical patterns suggest for such network development? There are identifiable patterns to draw upon for such analysis, ranging from the recent developments of digital repositories as nodes on the Internet to studies of monasteries as chirographic nodes in medieval information networks. This broadly construed literature will be reviewed and then applied to conceptual scenarios for long-term development of interstellar information networks. Strategies will be described for establishing persistent, long-term, organizational structures, motivations, and incentives for preserving data in a context in which respective individual projects and institutions are unlikely to survive over the duration of interstellar missions.
11:50am Presentation 5: D. Messerschmitt, “Interstellar Communications Design to Minimize Energy Consumption”
A major obstacle to communicating with other civilizations at interstellar distances at radio wavelengths is the lack of coordination in transmitter/receiver design. We propose to deal with this by optimization with respect to relevant resource consumption in light of the observable interstellar impairments, which include interstellar propagation effects (noise, plasma dispersion, and scattering) and motion effects. In communication there are two primary resources, the transmitter’s energy requirement for radiated power and the signal bandwidth, and there is a direct tradeoff between the two.
In view of the large distances and the large microwave window available, we argue that energy consumption should take priority in interstellar communication, as distinct from most terrestrial systems that primarily conserve scarce spectrum. The fundamental limit on energy consumption for interstellar communication is a wakeup call that the types of signals currently anticipated in SETI searches are inefficient by multiple orders of magnitude. We briefly review a set of five principles of transmit signal design that collectively can asymptotically approach that fundamental limit. These principles teach us that transmit signals should have wide bandwidth and consist of energy concentrated sparsely in both time and frequency.
Although signals with these characteristics will not be discovered by current SETI search methodologies, we review the discovery challenge and discuss how current searches can be modified to seek these energy-conserving signals. Information-free beacons as well as information-bearing signals can be sought simultaneously.
For more details on the presentation you can access Prof. Messerschmitt’s paper “End-to-end interstellar communication system design for power efficiency” on the Cornell University Library site.
12:15pm Lunch; “Starship Century” (Jim Benford) and “Going Interstellar” (Les Johnson) Book Signing Event