Starship Congress Day 2 video, schedule and abstracts

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 2 focused on what can be accomplished on a timescale to begin 20 years from now, out to the next 50 years. Areas of interest will include fusion rockets, antimatter rockets, future economics, colonizing and populating the solar system, asteroid mining, and commercialization of space. Other possible topics include:

The effect of changing international politics on the continued funding and staffing of a century-long mission.

Protection of a probe against future, unknown cyber attack, from factions hostile to space-faring on earth.

The effect of population demographics on the time profile of space travel.

Day 2 – Interstellar This Lifetime (20 – 50 years) | Friday August 16th, 2013

8:30am Coffee
8:45am Introduction to Day 2
9:00am Keynote: Michael Minovitch, “Interstellar Space Travel with Reasonable Round-trip Travel Times”

Mathematician Dr. Michael A. Minovitch was a keynote speaker for Icarus Interstellar’s 2013 Starship Congress, with a talk titled “On the Possibility of Achieving Interstellar Space Travel at Near Optical Velocities”.

A scholar, mathematician, physicist, inventor, and a contributor to space travel, Dr. Michael A. Minovitch is revered as a true “planetary pioneer”, the man who opened up the solar system to exploration with instrumented spacecraft via his invention of gravity propelled interplanetary space travel, and solving the seemingly impossible mathematical problem of computing the trajectories. Dr. Minovitch showed that spacecraft trajectories could be designed such that they could gain velocity by travelling close to a planet orbiting the sun. This gravity assist technique was developed in the early 1960s when he was a UCLA graduate student working summers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

To date, Dr. Minovitch has approximately 50 US and foreign patents on his inventions with several more still pending. In 1991, Dr. Minovitch was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention of gravity propelled interplanetary space travel. In 1992 he was interviewed for the PBS television series “Space Age”, Episode 3 – The Unexpected Universe, where he described his invention.

For more information on Dr. Minovitch and his work, visit

9:45am Presentation 1: Jason Cassibry, “Vehicle Requirements for an Alpha Centauri Flyby in 50 Years”

Estimate of Vehicle Requirements for an Alpha Centauri Flyby in 50 Years:

The objective of this presentation is to present an estimate for the vehicle requirements needed for a fusion propulsion driven spacecraft with a 150 metric ton payload to conduct a flyby missions to Alpha Centauri with a trip time of 50 years. The analysis is performed using the gravity free approximations for a low thrust propulsion system neglecting relativistic effects in which the burn time is a significant fraction of the travel time. With the constraint of 50 years to reach Alpha Centauri, the mean velocity of the spacecraft must be ~0.09 c. Most of vehicle parameters turn out to be reasonable, with a thrust of 175 kN, Isp of a million seconds, and an initial mass of 7159 metric tons. This is possible with a very high specific power (propulsion system mass to jet power ratio) required, 1 MW per kg. The propulsion system needs to produce 886 GW of jet power. Relaxing the trip time to 100 years lowers the vehicle requirements (power, thrust, initial mass) roughly by an order of magnitude. With the same vehicle parameters other missions are considered including rendezvous at Alpha Centauri, Epsilon Eridani, and Tau Ceti. The latter systems are of interest because of their proximity to Earth with planets potentially in the habitable zone.

10:10am Presentation 2: Srikanth Reddy, “Structural Analysis of the Daedalus Reaction Chamber & Thrust Structure”

Building Blocks: A Structural Analysis of the Fusion Powered Project Daedalus Spacecraft Reaction Chamber and Thrust Structure.

Project Daedalus set the stage and proved the feasibility of interstellar travel utilizing fusion-based propulsion (Inertial Confinement Fusion). This 1978 trade study used linearly extrapolated assumptions when it came to future technologies. Project Icarus is aimed at the redesign of the Daedalus spacecraft using present/near-future technologies.

Integral to the Daedalus spacecraft was a reaction chamber and thrust structure to support the loads resultant from the fusion reactions. A design/build engineering philosophy is used, treating this study of the reaction chamber as a deliverable build complete with requisite analyses. First, the reaction chamber will be examined computationally in terms of static loading and vibrational characteristics utilizing the finite element method. Next, a proposed bracing system will be integrated into the reaction chamber and the effects will be studied. Lastly, the field coils with their supporting truss structure will be added to the assembly.

Concepts for actuators and course-correction mechanisms are presented to ensure the spacecraft maintains the required trajectory to rendezvous with the target system.

Present-day materials and manufacturing considerations will be explored based off assumptions made in the Daedalus study. Testing, qualification, and assembly of the spacecraft are also presented. This talk presents an engineering-centric view on the Daedalus spacecraft.

10:35am Break

About 2 hours into the video
10:45am Presentation 4: F. Winterberg, “Cheating the Death of the Sun by Relativistic Interstellar Spaceflight”

Winterberg is well respected for his work in the fields of nuclear fusion and plasma physics, and Edward Teller has been quoted as saying that he had “perhaps not received the attention he deserves” for his work on fusion. He is an elected member of the Paris-based International Academy of Astronautics, in which he sat on the Committee of Interstellar Space Exploration. According to his faculty webpage, In 1954 he “made the first proposal to test general relativity with atomic clocks in earth satellites” and his thermonuclear microexplosion ignition concept was adopted by the British Interplanetary Society for their Project Daedalus Starship Study. His current research is on the “Planck Aether Hypothesis”, “a novel theory that explains both quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity as asymptotic low energy approximations, and gives a spectrum of particles greatly resembling the standard model. Einstein’s gravitational and Maxwell’s electromagnetic equations are unified by the symmetric and antisymmetric wave mode of a vortex sponge, Dirac spinors result from gravitationally interacting bound positive-negative mass vortices, which explains why the mass of an electron is so much smaller than the Planck mass. The phenomenon of charge is for the first time explained to result from the zero point oscillations of Planck mass particles bound in vortex filaments.” The theory proposes that the only free parameters in the fundamental equations of physics are the Planck length, mass, and time, and shows why R3 is the natural space, as SU2 is treated as the fundamental group isomorphic to SO3 — an alternative to string field theories in R10 and M theory in R11. It permits the value of the fine structure constant at the Planck length to be computed, and this value remarkably agrees with the empirical value. He has published extensively on many aspects of physics from the 1950s through the present. In 2008, Winterberg criticized string theory and pointed out the shortcomings of Einstein’s general theory of relativity because of its inability to be reconciled with quantum mechanics at the Physical Interpretations of Relativity Theory conference and published his findings in Physics Essays.

Cheating the Death of the Sun by Relativistic Interstellar Spaceflight:

For the human species and its unique culture to survive the death of the sun, a bridge must be built to other solar systems with earthlike planets. The Kepler space telescope has discovered a large number of extrasolar planets, but only a few with earthlike conditions, and those are many light years away. Assuming that no new fundamental laws of physics are awaiting discovery that would greatly facilitate interstellar spaceflight, I can only see two avenues to reach them:

First, at 10% of the speed of light via deuterium fusion bomb propulsion, harvesting the deuterium in the comets of the Oort clouds surrounding our and other suns, and by hopping from comet to comet. Second, at relativistic velocities by matter-antimatter generated GeV laser beams released from relativistically stabilized hydrogen-antihydrogen super-pinch discharges, transmitting the recoil of the laser beam by the Moessbauer effect to the spacecraft.

The production of the anti-hydrogen can be done with solar energy in robotic factories on the planet Mercury. For the first, but much more for the second possibility, very large masses must be lifted in one stage into low Earth orbit, which can be done by chemically ignited pulsed pure fusion bomb propulsion.

11:30am Presentation 3: Robert Freeland, “Trading a Mag-Sail vs. Fusion for Full Deceleration”

Trading a Mag-Sail Against Fusion Propulsion for Full Deceleration into Alpha Centauri:

Robert Zubrin and Dana Andrews introduced the concept of the magnetic sail (“mag-sail”) in their presentation titled “Magnetic Sails and Interstellar Travel” at the 39th Congress of the IAF in October 1988. They published several additional papers on the subject, culminating in their final report to the NIAC in January 2000. Several other authors have published papers on the concept, including a recent engineering study by Matthias Raible specifically aimed at the use of a mag-sail for full deceleration into Alpha Centauri (as needed for Project Icarus). While several of these papers have estimated the potential mass-savings from the use of a mag-sail, none has yet fitted the mag-sail to a full vessel design to quantify mass and cost savings versus main propulsion alone in an integrated system. Just such an evaluation is provided here with the “Dirty Icarus” model as a baseline.

11:55am Presentation 6: Gwyn Rosaire, “The Nuclear Thermal Rocket’s Role in Promoting Interstellar Exploration”

The Nuclear Thermal Rocket’s Role in Promoting Interstellar Exploration:

Throughout the history of humankind’s technological advancement, there have been paradigm shifts that have ushered in a new era of human exploration and technology. The industrial revolution was brought about the widespread use of coal and steam power. This was the step from horse power to steam power. The NTR represents the next stepping stone technology to promote humanity’s use of extremely high power density technologies in space that will enable the development of the necessary engineering and technologies for interstellar travel.

12:20pm Lunch
1:15pm Keynote: Kelvin Long, “Rise of the Starships”

The Rise of the Starships:

An examination of history shows that the emergence of the space industry occurred in the early part of the 20th century, eventually leading up to the pivotal events of sending both spacecraft and people high above the atmosphere and into the void of space beyond. Throughout this period there was an increased interest in the problem of the rocket, its associated technology and applications. The number of people and organisations founded that were interested in working on the problem grew rapidly until eventually both industry and government took notice as the benefits for the uses of space became clear. The colonisation of space now offers us the limitless opportunity for free expansion and universal resource abundance. In this talk it is argued that we are now witnessing a new period in history as interest grows in the problem of the Starship. Over time, the subject of interstellar studies has moved from one of fiction to one of plausible reality as theoretical designs and even experimental validation becomes more prevalent. We are driven by our personal ambitions to explore and constrained by the laws of physics and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky’s rocket equation, yet undaunted we conceive of many ideas for machines that can someday make the journey between one star system and another. These are machines powered by the nuclear energy release from the atom, driven by the light of photons from the stars or stimulated light sources – as the utility of stellar power is harnessed for humanities use. These are machines that are as small as a needle, or as large as small Moons in scale, some robotic and others carrying entire colonies of people. Our Starships will be launched in a distributed wave of diffusion outwards from Sol, first slow and primitive in type, but eventually fast and sophisticated. As we aim to bend nature’s laws to our will, clever inventions are engineered and even loopholes in matter, energy, space and time are sought. Technology reaches a tipping point as we design intelligent machines until they eventually can think for themselves, self-aware and self-autonomous. At some point, the distinction between us and them may rapidly become less clear, and the argument over man versus machine made redundant because for all intents and purposes we will be them and everything this implies – transcendent evolution reaches its pinnacle in the full convergence of man and his machines. We will be free to roam the Cosmos and meet others who also possess the urge to explore and reach the vast and deepest corners of the galaxies and all the space in between. In this presentation it is argued that not only is interstellar travel entirely feasible but that the age of interstellar flight is fast upon us as the rise of the Starships begins. We explore the duality of this exciting future whilst examining the key steps needed in the coming decades if we are to progress towards this fantastic and noble vision.

2:00pm Presentation 7: Armen Papazian, “Money Mechanics for Space”

Money Mechanics For Space:

This paper argues that humanity is faced with a debilitating and inappropriate financial and monetary architecture that must be addressed if we are to take charge of our own evolution, and ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes of the 20th century. Money mechanics, or the methodology and technology of money creation on Earth, in Space, is a key bottleneck. Money, in banknote or digit form, i.e., cotton and linen or zeros and ones, is created and expands through debt and credit. This logic is founded on a principle of scarcity propagated by the science of economics, while there is nothing scarce about where we are! Economics, through its focus on scarcity, denies that our planet is in space, that it is in a galaxy with billions of stars, in a universe with billions of galaxies. How can a species in cosmos not define itself as such? The 21st century is the solar century that will redefine the imaginative frontiers of our existence, and the most crucial challenge we face on the way is to reinvent money mechanics, such that we are able to invest in space timelessly, such that we can invest in our own evolution without conditioning it by coupon and principal payments to some bank. The current monetary architecture has created a multi-trillion debt balloon on our heads and our children’s future, an artificial burden that serves to perpetuate an obsolete monetary model founded on debt and credit. We must reinvent money without debt, and we must inject the debt-free money into key industries and our own evolutionary momentum, from space exploration, to climate change, green energy, healthcare, and education. This paper describes a mechanics of money that is fit for a species in the cosmos, that reflects our stardust nature, and recognizes the immense abundance of the universe we are part of, so that we can explore, understand, and cherish the gift of being in it.

2:25pm Presentation 8: Chris Wimer, “Using Game Mechanics to Increase Funding and Improve Public Knowledge”

Using Game Mechanics to Increase Funding and Improve Public Knowledge:

This paper is about using game mechanics to promote, market, crowd-fund and crowd-source for Interstellar projects. Games employ various “game mechanics,” that encourage players to repeat actions, recruit other players, and spend money. Learning from games and applying these techniques to other projects is sometimes called Gamification or Human-Focused Design, since it places high emphasis on the human(s) in the process (as opposed to Function-Focused Design).

1. Gamification is defined as the concept of using game design elements in non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging. Since the term gained popularity in 2010, over 350 companies have launched major gamification projects and over 70% of Forbes Global 2000 companies plan to use gamification for the purposes of marketing and customer retention. These include companies like Nike, Starbucks, eBay, LinkedIn and many others. While a general understanding and use of game mechanics can increase sales and engagement, a solid, in-depth understanding can increase the enjoyment and well-being of the participants as well.

2. This is captured in Yukai Chou’s “Octalysis” framework in which he describes eight “core drives”, Meaning, Accomplishment, Empowerment, Ownership, Social Pressure, Scarcity, Unpredictability, and Avoidance. The first three are considered positive motivators, while the last three are considered negative motivators. All eight can create a captivating experience. How you choose to engage your player/customer can make a big difference. Creating a meaningful experience or allowing the player to share in the project’s development and achievements offers a healthy and engaging experience, while using loss aversion or similar techniques can actually create addicting, but harmful experiences.

3. Foldit is a great example of a crowd-sourcing game about folding proteins. Researchers are able to analyze the highest scoring solutions and determine whether or not there is a native structural configuration that can be applied to the relevant proteins. Scientists can then use such solutions to solve “real-world” problems, by targeting and eradicating diseases, and creating biological innovations. Perhaps there is a similar approach to be taken when looking for new energy sources, structural shapes, or anything else that might benefit from having vast human computing power applied to it. Kickstarter is another great tool, and as of this paper Icarus Interstellar is hours away from successfully completely theirs. To increase the longevity of this approach to crowd-funding, memberships could be available that would track a person’s donations over time, allowing them to level up and earn multiple rewards. This would be similar to the “classes” (titles) that are already available for donating at, with the addition of rewards.

4. Mars One is another great example as it is very similar to Icarus Interstellar. Within two week of allowing people to apply to take part in the journey to Mars, they collected 80,000 applications and somewhere between $400,000 and $6,000,000 in application fees (fees ranged from $5 to $75). People are eager and willing to share this undertaking and journey to the stars, we just need to open the doors.

2:50pm Break
3:00pm Presentation 9: Heath Rezabek & Nick Nielsen, “(Xrisk 101) Existential Risk for Interstellar Advocates”

(Xrisk 101) Existential Risk for Interstellar Advocates: Space and Time for Understanding and Action:

Existential Risk (the risk that Earth-originating life may not endure long enough to achieve its full potential) is a concept whose importance will grow over the next 20-50 years. It is increasingly seen as a motivating imperative in connection with space-related efforts, from near-term asteroid surveyal to future interstellar prospects. How is Existential Risk defined and what is our stake in it? Why does popular culture tend to envision its subtypes (Permanent Stagnation and Flawed Realization)? What can a film like Elysium teach us about our messaging and priorities? Co-presenters Heath Rezabek and Nick Nielsen offer a primer on Xrisk and a look at its implications for interstellar efforts. Mr. Rezabek will review the Vessel Archives proposal, and detail work on the Open Vessel Framework (a basis for preserving the traces of Earth-originating life, whether on Earth or on board). Mr. Nielsen will map our contemporary view of Existential Risk to the historical scope of civilization, and its possible future(s) in the light of Xrisk mitigation. Relevance to concrete interstellar priorities and strategies will be highlighted throughout.

A Strategic Approach to Existential Risk, Human Survival, and the Future of Earth-Originating Life (Preprint submission version)

3:25pm Presentation 10: A. Caminoa & G. Gaviraghi, “Critical Path and Interstellar Routes”
3:50pm Presentation 11: A. Caminoa & G. Gaviraghi, “A Kardashev III Approach to Extra-Solar Colonization”

Critical Path and Interstellar Routes

It is highly probable, due to its proximity to our Solar System, that the Alpha Centauri system will be the first destination of mankind’s interstellar odyssey. However, once we achieve the technological ability to launch such an endeavor, what’s next? A tentative strategy to satisfactorily answer this question appears necessary and pertinent.

The Sun’s neighborhood, considering a distance of 15 light years from Sol, contains 56 Stellar Systems, encompassing a total of 75 Stars. Although we have not confirmed the existence of extrasolar planets in each system, only a few at the time of this writing, these stellar systems are all potential targets of human colonization.

In this talk, we will describe the most convenient interstellar routes that a space-based Kardashev II human civilization should use to explore, to settle, to colonize, and to ensure its immediate surroundings or influence area. We will analyze this subject analogous to an exercise of project management. For this reason we will use Critical Path Method (CPM) and Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) tools, in order to answer the followings questions:

– How many starships should be dispatched?
– In which order should their destinations be chosen?
– How much time will be required?
The correct answers to these questions could give us an initial clue for the likely paths of a structured roadmap to reach and secure our stellar neighborhood.

Code of Ethics for Alien Encounters

One of the main motivations for manned Interstellar travel will be to expand human civilization to new planetary systems, to preserve its culture and promote its growth. Since most of the extrasolar planets discovered so far are not directly habitable for different reasons, such as their atmospheric compositions, our options for making them habitable include:

– Terraforming
– Underground Terraforming
– Space settlements with planetary manned outposts expandable to bases

While potential habitability could be defined by the sophisticated ESI (Earth Similarity Index) and PHI (Planetary Habitability Index) scales developed by Dirk Schultze-Masuch, we will utilize the following classification system to evaluate potential locations for manned settlement:

000 – Not approachable due to hostile alien presence
00 – Difficult to approach due to alien presence
0 – Not approachable due to natural conditions (gravity, chemical composition, radiation, others), only suitable for exploration by robotic probes (i.e. Jupiter)
1 – Approachable, short-term manned visits are possible, but no Terraforming / permanent settlement potential (i.e. Io)
2 – Underground Terraforming possibilities only with surface outposts (scientific, manufacturing etc. only), i.e. Moon, Titan, Enceladus, Mars
3 – Terraforming possibilities for non-optimal conditions, i.e. none in solar system
4 – Optimum Terraforming possibilities but lacking components (gravity, chemical composition), i.e. Mars
5 – Earth-like (chemical composition, weather, gravity, possibility of terrestrial ecosystem), i.e. Earth

Before we can consider any of the listed alternatives we must ensure that there is no alien life, especially intelligent life, present on the considered body. In case such life may exist, we should define a Code of Ethics before any encounter with alien societies could happen. Such code must be based not only in the definition of their state of progress, through the Kardashev scale or other similar system, but also by applying the code that will be the argument of this paper.

A Kardashev III Approach to Extra-Solar Planetary System Colonization

Looking at the history of mankind’s exploration of space, we acknowledge that all vehicles ever sent into Earth orbit, to the Moon and other destinations in the solar system, have been launched from Earth. Our society, being a K1 planetary type in accordance with Kardashev’s classification, is entirely ground-based, delivering our rockets from the Earth’s surface. How would a society mastering interstellar travel, classified as a K3 on the Kardashev scale, pursue a similar goal, the colonization of a planetary system?

A type K3 society, for example, could be an alien society arriving in our planetary system or, optimistically, a future version of mankind, after obtaining interstellar travel capability, planning the development of an extra-solar system. What could be the pattern of expansion and transition to new terrestrial environments, where possible, in an alien planetary system?

What would the launching facilities for planetary development look like aboard a space-based starship, and what could be a systematic and logical approach to the system that may lead to colonization or terrestrial ecosystem expansion?

Most activities, at least initially, would be space-based, from a so-called “mothership”, the vessel that would transport the alien society to a new planetary system. In the talk we will explore the strategies involved in a space-based approach, the infrastructure, equipment, and facilities needed to successfully explore and develop and new planetary system. Strategies considered in the talk range from unmanned to manned preparation phases, as well as a hybrid approach that includes sending machines and human embryo clones whose minds have been temporarily uploaded to the machines and who will be born in the new territories

4:15pm Break | Description of Evening Event
4:30pm STARSHIP CONGRESS: Mid-Term Questions
6:00pm Dinner (Individual)
8:00pm Event 2 | “Starship Congress Cocktail Evening with Sarah Jane Pell”

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