Project World Ship II

In 1984 the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society published papers considering the design of a World ship. This is a very large vehicle many tens of kilometres in length and having a mass of millions of tons, moving at a fraction of a per cent of the speed of light and taking hundreds of years to millennia to complete its journey. It is a self-contained, self-sufficient ship carrying a crew that may number hundreds to thousands and may even contain an ocean, all directed towards an interstellar colonisation strategy. In 2012 a symposium was organised by Kelvin Long and Richard Osborne of the BIS Technical Committee, to discuss both old and new ideas in relation to the concept of a World Ship. This one day event was an attempt to reinvigorate thinking on this topic and to promote new ideas and will focus on the concepts, cause, cost, construction and engineering feasibility as well as sociological issues associated with the human crew. All of the presentations were eventually written up and published as papers in a special issue of the journal. The papers featured included:

  • World Ships: The Solar-Photon Sail Option, Gregory L.Matloff
  • World Ships – Architectures and Feasibility Revisited, Andreas M.Hein, Mikhail Pak and Daniel Pütz et al.
  • On the Organization of World Ships and Other Gigascale Interstellar Space Exploration Projects, Frederik Ceyssens, Maarten Driesen and Krisof Wouters
  • The Emergence of the Worldship (I): The Shift from Planet-Based to Space-Based Civilization, Stephen Ashworth
  • The Emergence of the Worldship (II): A Development Scenario, Stephen Ashworth
  • Communication with World Ships – Building the Disaporanet, Pat Galea
  • The Enzmann Starship: History and Engineering appraisal, Adam Crowl, Kelvin F.Long, Richard Obousy
  • The Long-Term Growth Prospects for Planetary and Space Colonies, Stephen Ashworth
The Enzmann Starship

The Enzmann Starship, credit: David A.Hardy

It is worth highlighting one of these papers for special notice, which is the Enzmann Starship paper. The project was led by BIS Fellow Kelvin F.Long in collaboration with the US non-profit organisation Icarus Interstellar and members Richard Obousy and Adam Crowl. This is a concept for a space colonisation Starship, A Slow Boat, that was created by the physicist Robert Enzmann in the mid-1960s. Not much was known about the design previously and the authors conducted an exhaustive literature survey for every available bit of information on the design and its origins. This even included discussions with Robert Enzmann himself, through a third party. The authors decided on the final design, which was said to be a 30,000 tons vessel carrying 3 million tons of Deuterium propellant for the fusion based engines. It would start off on its journey with a population of 200 people and after traveling to the nearest stars for 60 years at 9% of the speed of light, it would arrive at its destination stars with a population of 2,000 people, ready to begin colonisation of the local star system. An illustration of the Enzmann Starship concept (commissioned by Long in 2011) by the space artist David A. Hardy is shown here.

The special issues of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society are available as Vol.65, No.4/5 April/May 2012 and Vol.65, No.6 June 2012 and can be ordered by clicking on these hyperlinks.

Alternatively, the individual papers can be ordered direct from the JBIS web site here:

Be sociable; support the BIS!