During the 2011 NASA/DARPA 100 Year Starship StudyTM symposium there were many technical tracks exploring the broad themes associated with the interstellar problem. This included (i) Time-Distance Solutions Chaired by Dr Jim Benford (ii) Habitats and Environmental Science Chaired by Dr Chris McKay (iii) Biology and Space Medicine Chaired by Dr Neal Pellis (iv) Education, Social, Economic and Legal Considerations Chaired by Dr Mae Jemison (v) Destinations Chaired by Dr Jill Tarter (vi) Philosophical and Religious Considerations Chaired by Mr Stewart Brand (vii) Communication of the Vision Chaired by Dr Harry Kloor. In the previous issue we published the first set of Time-Distance Solutions papers. In this current issue we publish the first set of Education, Social, Economic and Legal Considerations papers.
We start with a paper by Andreas Tziolas who explores the exciting idea of developing a Starflight Academy in order to foster educational capabilities. Bill Cress then discusses the idea of an Institute for Interstellar Sciences. This is followed by a paper from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, exploring the history and achievements of the Voyager mission. Next Vadim Astakhov and colleagues introduce the idea of open virtualized gaming environments as a way of studying Starship science. Richard Obousy then gives an overview of Project Icarus, the theoretical interstellar probe design study which was initiated by the British Interplanetary Society. Andreas Hein examines the deeper technological, social and political projections for future centuries. Finally, we have an excellent paper from Marsal Gifra and Walter Peeters who lay out a strategic roadmap for the development of an interstellar space program. This is an excellent collection of papers and it is our honour to publish them in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society.
The British Interplanetary Society is an organisation that is concerned with all aspects of space flight, from Low Earth Orbit, to exploration of the Moon and Mars to interstellar flight. It has been the “torch bearer” of the interstellar vision for the eight decades of its existence, as the oldest space organisation in the world still in its original form. Regular readers to this journal will be familiar with our diverse content and also our unashamed willingness to publish bold and speculative visionary papers, provided a certain amount of academic rigour is adhered to by the submitting authors. Interstellar travel certainly represents this character, a goal which many consider to be fantasy and its realisation several centuries into our future. Clearly, not everyone agrees with this point of view. Reaching for the stars provides an important stretch goal for our space aspiring species. Whilst some are focussed on the problems down here, others are looking to the horizon and the possibilities out there. This provides a real sense of hope and optimism that when we come together, we can accomplish anything we set our minds too. DARPAs 100 Year Starship StudyTM initiative may have been just a flash in the pan, or it may have been the start of a new wave of thought, where clever minds, young and old, join forces and think to a more brighter and distant future.
In recent weeks the astronomy community was sad to announce the loss of the eminent astronomer Sir Patrick Moore. He had presented “The Sky at Night” television show for well over half a century and held a world record for this terrific accomplishment. Patrick was always keen to encourage the young and to connect people to the stars, as a way of helping them to see that there is more to our lives than we observe on the nightly television set. We can be sure that Patrick would be pleased to know that the next generation are striving not just for the planets, but the stars and the galaxy too. Rest In Peace Patrick, you will be missed and like others before, we stand on your shoulders too as we aspire to become a space faring people.
Kelvin F.Long, Editor JBIS