Rob Swinney and Terry Regan attended a special event at the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory in August. Over two evenings the pair, representing both i4is and the British Interplanetary Society discussed the prospects of real interstellar flight in the near future.
The Observatory is hosted on the Craigengillan estate which was the home of the Macadam family for so many years. Staying in the main residence made it a special weekend for the visit where along with the observatory the estate enjoys large stables, long trails and the famous Carrick fort activity centre. The oversubscribed event meant a packed room for the presentations and you will see from the images that not only is it a Dark Sky Observatory they also keep their presentation room very dark!
For his presentation, Rob introduced the imaginative and forwardthinking work of the BIS from the moon ship project from the 1930s and the famous Daedalus fusion powered spacecraft design of the 1970s. The i4is is closely linked to the BIS but is focused on the challenges of interstellar travel whereas the BIS covers all aspects of astronautics . He finished his presentation by running through some of today's programmes, nearly all undertaken by volunteers and enthusiasts to solve the problem of interstellar travel. Although still possibly many decades away he described some of the likely candidates and how they might be achieved .
Terry gave an enlightening presentation on his famous spacecraft model work where he described how he builds 'from scratch', i.e. not from a kit to create some of the historical explorers such as Voyager and Cassini to his own model creation of Daedalus. The attendees were amazed at his models and enjoyed hearing some of the trials and tribulations of building them from scratch using various household and other everyday items (from wine glasses to Christmas decorations).
After each presentation the resident astronomer, David Warrington, took the attendees on a tour of the Observatory and telescopes and despite often heavy cloud cover was able to give the attendees an appreciation of what was possible with their facilities. It is well worth attending one of the SDSO events which has a varied programme supported by the chance to do some observing (weather permitting). If you want to know more visit the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory website.