It's been an exciting year for space exploration. We saw the space probe Rosetta encounter a comet, we saw the successful flight of the NASA Orion capsule, and SpaceX continues to impress us all with its tremendous reusable launcher capability. And yet more countless worlds discovered around other stars. I can't wait to see what is in store for 2015. We at the Initiative for Interstellar Studies (i4iS) have had a successful year too. Here is a brief summary of our various activities during 2014.
The first big success of the year for us was our incorporation as a Not-For-Profit company in the United Kingdom. This included writing our own bespoke articles of association, which we laboured over for many weeks together as a team. This was accompanied by the signing of several Memoranda of Understanding with various organisations with which we now have collaborative relationships.
Our Educational Academy is now in its third successful year in partnership with the International Space University. Three MSc students recently completed their projects with us and we are now beginning a new term with three more. We are also working on a team project which we initiated in collaboration with Professor Chris Welch to consider the design of an Interstellar Worldship. This project involves over twenty MSc students
and we are really excited about that progress. Our relationship with the ISU continues to grow from strength to strength. The Academy is now in discussions with three other universities and organising educational visits to UK schools. The committee is also working hard on the development of an educational outreach programme which we are calling Starship Engineer. So watch out for the launch in Spring 2015! I would like to congratulate the Chair of this committee, Rob Swinney, for the outstanding job he has been doing throughout the last year.
Our Technical Research Committee is in full swing. So far, the committee has organised two workshops. The first, on The Philosophy Of The Starship presented in 2013, has generated a number of papers which have been published in a peer reviewed journal (and more are on their way, I'm delighted to say). The second was our recent special Symposium on the Physics of Wormholes which we held in London, in collaboration with our friends, The British Interplanetary Society. Full details in the next issue of Principium.
The committee was also recently involved in the execution of an innovative workshop at the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop (TVIW) to redesign starships from the literature of science fiction and a full report on those activities will be made available in a future issue of Principium. Thanks to all those at TVIW, especially Robert Kennedy, Eric Hughes, Ken Roy, David Fields, Les Johnson, John Preston and Martha Knowles, for making these exciting events possible.
The committee has several small projects under way, and now four of those have resulted in peer reviewed publications and many internal reports. But the most exciting activity for this committee is Project Dragonfly, our laser sail design competition. We have seven international university associated teams registered to compete for this across the United States, Europe, Russia and Egypt. We really can't wait to see the results. Congratulations go to the Chair, Andreas Hein, for the amazing work he has done getting this committee and Project Dragonfly off the ground.
Our other committees are busy adding value too. This includes the Enterprise Committee and several discussions are under way about seeding new start ups and creating contractual relationships to help emerge the technologies associated with the starship. The Sustainability and Development Committee, led by Professor Rachel Armstrong, is developing our strategy for Starship cities; an effort to produce sustainable cities on Earth. The committee has also been working with a firm of architects to develop a new technology for use in both Earth based and space based habitats. In addition, our Advisory Committee is fully in place and we are grateful for the wisdom those members give to us on difficult issues when called upon to do so.
A Convention and a Conference
We had our own speaking sessions, panel and stand at the 2014 World Science Fiction Convention in August, Loncon3; our team built a 4m high monolith, much to the delight of the science fiction fans! Heartfelt thanks to Paul Campbell and Terry Regan for their outstanding efforts in constructing this. We supported the day of the BIS speaking sessions and our own sessions proved immensely popular, packing out the room with over 200 people. A huge thank you to John Davies and Gill Norman for their leadership of this event; they were both subsequently awarded one of our internal Alpha Centauri 'Proxima' awards.
We also had an enjoyable and informative day of lectures at the BIS Charterhouse Conference in July, with five of our i4is speakers taking the stage!
Beyond the Boundary
After a year's work, our team has published the long awaited book "Beyond the Boundary", which I had the pleasure of editing. This book is a real achievement for our team and is already selling like hot cakes; do order your copy soon by clicking on the link to the right. A huge thank you to Keith Cooper for doing such a great job with the production and thanks to all our contributors from the Interstellar community for each inspiring chapter.
We are now working on our 9th issue of our publication Principium, and the latest issue should be arriving in your mail box in early January, which contains a special section on the physics of wormholes, timed for the recent movie release "Interstellar". Please see the links on the right for previous issues.
All the above demonstrates that our teams have our eyes firmly focussed on the stars. With your help, we can do more. And this brings me finally to how you can support our mission. We are always looking for people to get involved and help out with our committees, programmes, projects or operations, so if you have a particular skill that you think could help us, please do get in touch and we would love to have you involved.
Purchasing Beyond the Boundary or the merchandise available on our website will, of course, provide much needed funds for the administration of our organisation. Our authors and artists have very kindly provided their work free of royalties so that any proceeds come directly to i4is. As importantly, you may also choose to contribute by joining our recently launched 'Supporting Membership' programme for only Â£10 / €12 / $15 per year. If you would like to make a pledge to us, please get in touch and we would be most grateful for your support in our ambitious undertakings. All our directors and members are voluntary so every penny, cent and dime really does make a difference to us.
The Interstellar Community in 2015
We started work on this organisation back in 2012 and - two years in - I am very proud of the progress we continue to make towards an interstellar future. i4is shares many goals with of other interstellar organisations such as Icarus Interstellar, the Tau Zero Foundation, the British Interplanetary Society and the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop. We hope to work more closely with all of them in 2015, so that we may see Starships built within our lifetime. We are also excited about the forthcoming Icarus Starship Congress in autumn 2015 that I personally hope to attend.
In the meantime I wish you all a happy holiday season and an inspiring New Year in which we may collectively take fresh steps towards exploring the potential of this wonderful cosmos that we look out upon.
Kelvin F. Long
Executive Director, Initiative for Interstellar Studies