Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 UK competition winners have not yet been able to present their work in the International Astronautical Congress student competition. This will happen at IAC2021. As a result, there will be no UK IAC2021 student competition. Please check back in in 2022!

The British Interplanetary Society (BIS) invites nominations for achievements in 2020, for the 2020 Sir Arthur Clarke Awards. 

In conjunction with the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation, which will be selecting the finalists and the winner of the International Award, the BIS is the organising body for the Awards ceremony to be held on Tuesday 29 June 2021 at the British Interplanetary Society’s Reinventing Space Conference Dinner at the QEII Conference Centre, Westminster.

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Education & Outreach

The advancement of public education is the Society’s core charitable objective. 

We are committed to inspiring the public about the benefits and practical applications of space exploration, and we achieve this by working with education, STEM and Space ambassadors, and being present at public-focused events.  

Our activities include schools visits and Internet based talks, with members across the country able to volunteer as schools speakers.  We have attended events such as AstroFest, the UKSEDS Conference, UK rocketry events, New Scientist Live, and many more in the UK, as well as international events such as the International Astronautical Congress and MakerFaire.

Our regular Evening Lectures are open to all, and are free for members to attend.  These lectures focus on education and information, and are a great opportunity to learn more about in-depth areas from experts in fields such as engineering, spaceplane innovation, space law, and much more.

We attend UK-based events such as AstroFest, the UKSEDS Conference, New Scientist Live, and UK rocketry events.
We also attend International events, such as the International Astronautical Congress and MakerFaire.

Our Education and Outreach Committee oversees the Society’s E&O activities and is developing educational and edutainment resources, for use in Schools, Universities, and by the general public to widen our engagement.

World Space Week

As the National Co-ordinating Body for World Space Week, we support and encourage everyone to create educational opportunities, activities, and events during WSW. WSW is an annual celebration of the peaceful uses of space for the benefit of humankind.

World Space Week runs between 4-10 OCT

World Space Week 2021 has been themed “Women in Space” which celebrates the accomplishments and contributions of women to sciences and the space sector, and aims to inspire
young women around the world to pursue STEM studies and future careers in the space industry.

Some simple steps to celebrating WSW each year:

  • Save the date: 4-10 October
  • Choose your audience: Anyone! WSW is an all-inclusive celebration of space, and it is an amazing opportunity to inform and inspire everyone, the more diverse your audience the better!
  • Plan an activity: Any educational activity related to space, such as; Space movie night, Space Art or Poetry, Stargazing with local astronomical society, Talks and Presentations, Space Themed Party.
  • Register your event: At www.worldspaceweek.org. Registering your event allows the BIS and World Space Week Association to assess the success and growth of WSW year-on-year.
  • Let us know how it went: Tell us about your event and attendance numbers, so we can add the UK’s success to our report to the UN.

As the WSW National Coordination manager, the BIS is here to support all UK event organisers with: 

  • Planning
  • Publicity 
  • Registering and updating events
  • General support and advice

Our Education & Outreach Committee links to and develops WSW theme-specific resources each year.

Publications

The BIS produces three regular magazines, available to our members and subscribers.  All publications are available either in print edition or digitally, and back copies can be ordered in either format from our shop.  You can also find out how to write for us.

SpaceFlight is our monthly magazine focusing on current developments and news related to space exploration around the globe.

It is our main membership magazine, which contains Society news, for Fellows and Members of the Society.  SpaceFlight is also available from selected branches of WH Smith, McColls and independent newsagents in the UK, and selected outlets overseas.

First published in 1956 (a year before the launch of Sputnik) with Sir Patrick Moore as its editor, it has been at the forefront of space exploration ever since.
 
View a Sample

The current SpaceFlight editor is Mark Hempsell.

The Journal of the British Interplanetary Society (JBIS) is our monthly academic, peer-reviewed journal, containing papers on a wide range of topics linked to the space sector.  

Read by Fellows and Members of the Society, as well as being available in a number of international universities and public libraries, JBIS is a leading source of the latest thinking around space exploration, astronautical engineering, space law and other issues.  First published in 1934, the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society (JBIS) was the first to describe many aspects of space travel which are now commonplace. 

View a Sample

The current editor is Roger Longstaff.

As well as back copies of issues, individual papers can be purchased from our shop.

Space Chronicle is our recently relaunched quarterly magazine bringing together historical features, articles on archive material and insights into previous achievements, milestones and untold stories.

View a Sample

Edited by Dave Shayler, with the emphasis on promoting the rich heritage of history within the Society and its archives, Space Chronicle welcomes submissions from Fellows and Members on any aspect of space history.

Technical Projects

The BIS has a long and proud history of providing thought leadership in space exploration, and through the Technical Committee, we ensure a rigorous process of selection and management of new technical schemes.

The ‘Tokamak Nuclear Electric Propulsion’ project began in 2016 and aims to produce a realistic and viable fusion space platform design using modifications to terrestrial fusion power plant concepts that can produce a power plant that can deliver specific powers over 1kW/kg with times between maintenance greater than 3 years.

The project aims to describe the important subsystems, such as:

  • Fusion plasma characteristics and tokamak specification,
  • Space platform systems engineering
  • Combined biological shield and primary working fluid
  • High temperature and efficiency thermal to electric conversion from neutron flux to power bus
  • Nitrogen cooled high field (~30T) high temperature superconducting magnet sets
  • Mechanical analysis on low density, high strength advanced materials
  • Energy storage and tokamak operation
  • Tritium breeding, launch and handling
  • Qualification
  • Orbital build and maintenance
  • Space segment (i.e. main thrusters, RCS, propellant, space structures etc.)
  • Mission specification and potential payloads

BIS Leader/contact:  David Homfray

The Q-Cube (a Quarter sized CubeSat) is primarily intended as a route to viable education satellite projects for secondary school pupils and undergraduate students.
However given a Q-Cube project could be completed for around £10,000 (including launch) it may also have secondary applications for industry and academia as a technical flight demonstration platform for new nanosatellite products and components.

Project Summary

Name: Project Q Cube

Dates: May 2016 to Dec 2017

Summary: To make a prototype satellite intended for school and undergraduate projects

Project deliverables: A prototype Q-Cube Satellite (hopefully flown) and an instruction/guidebook for use by educational project teams

Long-term goal: To encourage the use of practical and flown satellites as an option for STEM education.

Technology timeframe: Near-term (Present – 2020)

BIS involvement: The BIS Q-Cube will be a complete project. Hopefully other trial projects will run in parallel leading to a combined launch.

Current BIS activity: KickSat Project starts the BIS capability in flown satellites, Q-Cube would extend this.

Progress so far: The Q-Cube satellite is in development with Hempsell Astronautics and is close to Engineering Model construction and that company will donate a structure, power and computing package as the basis for the project.

BIS leader/contact: Mark Hempsell

The SPACE project began in 2013 in order to:

  • Re-examine the Space Colonies studies, led by Gerard O’Neill in the 1970s, investigating how the advancements since then in materials, technology and other areas could lead to improvements in the colonies’ design and construction.
  • To report on this study, including the effects on life on Earth, and other aspects, which could include solar power satellites.

Apart from providing a safety net in the event of catastrophe striking the Earth – be it man- made (which appeared a possibility at the time) or through other means – it was shown that building the colonies could bring enormous benefits to those remaining on Earth. In fact O’Neill showed that most of the major problems facing the Earth – which are still with us today – could be addressed by these vast construction projects in space.

Officially named “Project Icarus: son of Daedalus – flying closer to another star”, this project was initially discussed in 2008 and the project was then founded by Kelvin Long and Richard Obousy and formally launched in September 2009.
The purpose of Project Icarus is:

  • To design a credible interstellar probe that is a concept design for a potential mission in the coming centuries
  • To allow a direct technology comparison with Daedalus and provide an assessment of the maturity of fusion based space propulsion for future precursor missions
  • To generate greater interest in the real term prospects for interstellar precursor missions that are based on credible science
  • To motivate a new generation of scientists to be interested in designing space missions that go beyond our solar system.

With these goals it is the hope that Project Icarus will reinvigorate the subject of interstellar research, producing a new generation of capable designers able to do the engineering calculations required for all sorts of interstellar assessments whilst also providing some useful intellectual output.

The papers for this event were eventually published in a special issue of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society (2010 issue, V62)

From our early Lunar Exploration conceptual designs in 1938, to cubists and Skyline, which led to the founding of Reaction Engines by one of our most esteemed and long-term supporter, Alan Bond.
The BIS has been nurturing inspirational leaders, pioneering new technology, and researching and developing ideas that have inspired and led the course of Space exploration design.

Full list of our Technical innovations and achievements through time.

What We Do

Library and Archives

The BIS Library is an extensive collection of reference and research archives related to space exploration and the history of the Society, dating back to the founding of the BIS in 1933.  This unique and historic collection tells the story of space travel, academic research and contains key papers from space agencies from around the world.

The Library is available to our Members and Fellows and whilst it is not possible to borrow books or journals, it is possible to arrange for a limited number of photocopies to be taken if required for studying or research purposes.  You must book to visit by contacting us.

Research service: The BIS operates a research service.  Where work will take longer than half a day, a daily rate is charged of £50, with Members and Fellows receiving a 50% discount.