IRG 2021 Participants

Jim Bell is a professor in the School of Earth & Space Exploration at Arizona State University, where he teaches courses in astronomy, geology, planetary science, and commercial space. He is an active astronomer and planetary scientist who has been involved in solar system exploration using the Hubble Space Telescope, Mars rovers, and orbiters sent to Mars, the Moon, and several asteroids. His research focuses on the use of remote sensing imaging and spectroscopy to assess the geology, composition, and mineralogy of the surfaces of planets, moons, asteroids, and comets. He is also the author of many popular science books related to space exploration, and is the Chief Scientist of the MILO Space Science Institute, a non-profit collaboration between ASU and Lockheed Martin dedicated to increasing access and opportunities for deep space planetary science missions for member organizations around the world.

James Benford is President of Microwave Sciences, which does contracting and
consulting in power beaming. His interests include high power microwave systems from
conceptual designs to hardware, microwave source physics, electromagnetic power
beaming for space propulsion, experimental intense particle beams and plasma physics.
He earned a PhD in Physics at UC San Diego. He is an IEEE Fellow. He has published
160 technical papers and 10 books. co-edited Starship Century, dealing with the prospect
of star travel. He is a consultant for the Breakthrough Starshot Project.

Trent Collins is a recent graduate of Texas A&M University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering. During the 2020-2021 academic year, Trent worked alongside a team of five other mechanical engineering undergraduates as a senior design team to design a spacecraft compatible with the combined laser-particle beam. He is currently working as a mechanical engineer in the hobby industry, but maintains educational interest in this project and field.

Jeremy Dietrich is a PhD student in astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory. He is currently working with Prof. Daniel Apai on using statistical integrated analyses to discover and characterize previously unknown planets in exoplanet systems in the solar neighborhood, utilizing a software package he created called DYNAMITE (DYNAmical Multi-planet Injection TEster). He is a member of Project EDEN (Exo-earth Discovery and Exploration Network), an international collaboration searching for rocky planets around the smallest and closest stars to the Sun. He is also a member of the Earths in Other Solar Systems and Alien Earths collaborations, as well as the NASA Nexus for Exoplanet Space Science (NEXSS) and its Quantitative Habitability (QuantHab) science working group. Mr. Dietrich’s prior research in potential habitability of exoplanets includes developing software for maintaining a database of stellar habitable zones, as well as analyzing the spectrum of exoplanet atmospheres in search of Earth-like biosignatures from current and future ground-based telescopes. He graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 2017 with a double major in astrophysics and physics and a minor in statistics.

Steve Durst is Editor and Publisher at Space Age Publishing Company, since 1976, and operates its Hawai’i (1988) and California offices. Space Age publishes Space Calendar and Lunar Enterprise Daily, supports pioneering enterprises such as the ILOA, Stanford on the Moon, and Ad Astra Kansas initiatives, and pursues a business plan consistent with establishing a third office on the Moon. Steve is also Director of the International Lunar Observatory Association, based in Hawaii, USA, and its ILOA Galaxy Forum program: To advance 21st Century Education and see Humans on the Moon within the decade – the first giant step toward the Galaxy / Stars. He received a BA (1965) in European History and an MA (1966) in American History from Stanford University in California, and is self-taught in Asia / China history and culture.

Dr. Fatima Ebrahimi is a Principal Research Physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) Theory Department and an Affiliated Research Scholar at the Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University. She has over 20 years of experience in theoretical and global computational extended magnetohydrodynamics with broad applications to laboratory fusion and astrophysical plasmas. She has written many papers on a wide range of topics in plasma physics, fusion and astrophysics, published in several leading peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Ebrahimi has been the PI of several DOE and NSF grants and has served on multiple panels. She served as a member of the APS Executive Committee for the Division of Plasma Physics, Topical Group in Plasma Astrophysics, Division of Computational Physics, and was a member of the Executive committee for the International Sherwood Fusion Theory Conference. She is the inventor of an Alfvenic reconnecting plasmoid thruster concept for long-range missions to Mars and beyond.

Dr. Ebrahimi received her Ph.D. in Plasma Physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before joining the theory department at PPPL, she was a Research Scientist with the NSF Frontier Center for Magnetic Self-Organization at the UW-Madison, and then was a Research Assistant Professor at the University of New Hampshire.

Dr. Louis Friedman worked at the AVCO Space Systems Division from 1963-1968, on both civilian and military space programs. From 1970 to 1980 he worked on deep space missions at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. In 1979-80 he originated and led the International Halley Watch. He was manager of Advanced Planetary Studies at JPL. In 1978-79, Dr. Friedman was the AIAA Congressional Fellow on the staff of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He worked there on Space Policy, Operational Remote Sensing legislation, NASA program oversight and technology innovation on the railroads. He is a member of the American Astronautical Society, the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, Sigma Xi and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the British Interplanetary Society and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is a National Fellow member of the Explorers Club and of the International Academy of Astronautics.

He left JPL in 1980 and co-founded The Planetary Society with Carl Sagan and Bruce Murray. He was Executive Director of the Society for 30 years. Dr. Friedman led the design and development of the LightSail ™ spacecraft which successfully carried out its mission in 2019. Since retiring from The Planetary Society, he co-led the Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) Asteroid Retrieval Mission Study at Caltech and of Science and Technology to Explore the Interstellar Medium.  He is currently working on a NIAC (NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts) Phase III study of a mission to image exo-planets using the Solar Gravity Lens by flying along its focal line which begins at approximately 600 AU.

William W. “Bill” Gardiner is a professional environmental scientist (MSES, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University 1976) who operates Analytech, a Division of Laboratory Consulting Sources, Inc outside of Atlanta continuously since 1981. He is a Licensed Water Analyst (LWA) registered in the State of Georgia.

Bill has been a participating member since 1975 of the National Space Society and the predecessor L-5 Society, founded on the vision of Gerard O’Neill. He has served as the Southeast Regional NSS Board member three times, Secretary to the Executive Committee, chair of the NSS Roadmap committee in 2012, co-founder of the Breakthrough Science and Technology Committee, is the current chair of the NSS Space Health and Medicine Committee, and was chair of the Space Health Track of the 2018, 2019 and 2020 conferences. He has also been a regular speaker at the Mars Society conventions 2014-2020. His NSS committees have been developing a new understanding of energy and material transfers in and from the environment of space, CELSS/ECLSS, health and nutrition. He refers to this effort as “Living in Space as a Model for Living on Earth.

Matthew Gorban is 4th year PhD candidate studying Physics at Baylor University with a focus in advanced breakthrough propulsion. He uses computational general relativity to analyze and classify exotic spacetimes, including black holes, wormholes, and warp drives. Additionally, he is currently investigating various propellentless propulsion techniques that produce self-forces which violate the action-reaction principle via symmetry breaking of the quantum vacuum. His primary focus is on the Casimir effect and the utilization of time-varying, manipulatable boundary conditions.

Matthew received his undergraduate degree in Engineering Physics from Tulane University, where he investigated the metal-insulator transition of Vanadium dioxide and the effects of hydrogenation on sustained phase transition. In 2017 he won the NASA BIG Idea Challenge for the design of a solar electric propulsion (SEP)-powered space tug that utilized autonomous robotic assembly to deliver payloads from Earth to the Moon. This led to an internship at NASA’s Glenn Research Center working on an ISS project studying the boiling and condensation properties of twophase fluid flow in microgravity.

Matthew wants to use his engineering background to design and implement cutting-edge experiments that test the limits of in-space propulsion technology and pave the way to new and futuristic forms of space travel.

Dr. Andrew Higgins is a professor of Mechanical Engineering at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. He has over 25 years of experience in shock wave experimentation and modelling, encompassing shock and detonation waves in gas-phase and condensed-phase materials, with applications to advanced aerospace propulsion, defense, and fusion energy. He serves as the Managing Editor of Shock Waves, An International Journal on Shock Waves, Detonations, and Explosions. His two most recent projects have been: (1) Developing a hypervelocity launcher to launch projectiles to world-record velocities (exceeding 12 km/s) for orbital debris impact testing and (2) a research collaboration with General Fusion Inc. (Burnaby, BC) applying the implosion of liquid cavities to magnetized target fusion. In 2018, while on sabbatical from McGill, he was a visiting scholar at UC Santa Barbara in the Experimental Cosmology Group, working on problems related to interstellar flight. Andrew Higgins has a PhD (’96) and MS (’93) in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the University of Washington, Seattle, and a BS (’91) in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign.

Troy Howe is the president of Howe Industries in Scottsdale, AZ, where he and his team explore new ideas for space power and propulsion. His background is in mechanical engineering, with a PhD from University of Idaho. Howe Industries has a number of fascinating projects underway, including nuclear thermal propulsion, solar thermal propulsion, thermoelectric power generation, and nuclear plasma propulsion.

Chris Impey is a University Distinguished Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona. He has over 210 refereed publications on observational cosmology, galaxies, and quasars, and his research has been supported by $20 million in NASA and NSF grants. He has won eleven teaching awards and has taught two online classes with over 300,000 enrolled and 4 million minutes of video lectures watched. Chris Impey is a past Vice President of the American Astronomical Society, and he has won its Education Prize. He’s also been an NSF Distinguished Teaching Scholar, Carnegie Council’s Arizona Professor of the Year, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor. He has written 70 popular articles on cosmology, astrobiology and education, two textbooks, a novel called Shadow World, and eight popular science books: The Living Cosmos, How It Ends, Talking About Life, How It Began, Dreams of Other Worlds, Humble Before the Void, Beyond: The Future of Space Travel, and Einstein’s Monsters: The Life and Times of Black Holes.

Albert Allen Jackson IV, Ph.D. AFAIAA, FBIS was born in Dallas, Texas in 1940. He entered the US civil service in 1966 on the Gemini Crew Trainer, later he worked as trainer on the Lunar Module Simulator. “Attaining a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Texas in 1975, he returned to work at the Johnson Space Center.” In 1988 he moved to Lockheed Corporation working on solar system dust dynamics and orbital debris. He worked for Engineering Simulation from 1998 until his retirement in 2010. Presently, he is consultant for Triton Systems LLC in Houston (TX).

Dr. Gerald Jackson received his doctorate in the field of accelerator physics from Cornell University, where he studied collisions between electrons and positrons. From 1985 until 2000 he was instrumental in improving the performance of the Fermilab proton-antiproton collider program through enhancements in the production, manipulation, and storage of antiprotons. Dr. Jackson was a leader in the design, construction, and commissioning of the innovative 2-mile circumference antiproton Recycler ring, the last major particle physics accelerator built in the United States. Designed to increase Fermilab performance by 2.5X, the Recycler and other upgrades actually resulted in an increase of more than a factor of five. His technical contributions to, and leadership of, the Recycler project won him the 1999 IEEE Particle Accelerator Science and Technology Award, helped earn him the status of Fellow in the American Physical Society, and elevation as a senior member of the IEEE. During his 14 years at Fermilab, he had been instrumentation department head, leader of Main Ring operations, and leader of many accelerator technology development projects. He has been a tireless proponent of new accelerator technologies for science. As a Wilson Fellow, he worked on the challenging problem of bunched beam stochastic cooling for the Tevatron Collider and collaborated in a study which discovered nonlinear wave-mixing in accelerator beams and the presence of soliton propagation in coasting beams. Since 2000 he has founded several companies, one working on antimatter propulsion problems for NASA and culminating in a 2016 crowdfunded study of antimatter production enhancements and a NIAC Phase I grant in 2020.

Rohan Jillapalli is a Master of Engineering student at Texas A&M University and works at the Laser Diagnostics and Plasma Devices Laboratory (LDPDL). For the past year and a half, he has been a member of a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) team looking into a self-guiding beam propulsion concept. Specifically, he is focused on modelling the interaction between the beam and the spacecraft to prevent any damage occurring during acceleration. After finishing his Masters, he hopes to continue on towards a PhD.

Pauli Laine is a senior specialist in FDF C5 Agency, a freelance astrobiologist, and a PhD candidate in Jyväskylä, Finland. He received BSc degree in software engineering from the Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences in 1997, MSc degrees in information technology from the Tampere University of Technology and in cognitive science from the University of Jyväskylä, in 2010 and 2014, respectively.

In 1997 he joined the Novo Group plc as a system specialist, working with many customer projects. In 2005 he joined FDF C5 Agency. His current duties include development of system management systems. After establishing solid career in the ICT, he started creating careers in cognitive science and astrobiology. He started PhD studies in cognitive science after accomplishing MSc degree in it, in 2014. In 2013 he accomplished additional astrobiology studies in the University of Turku. Short after this, he was invited to create new NASA astrobiology roadmap, which
was then released in 2015. He is currently Member of ORIGINS (Origins and evolution of life on Earth and in the Universe) EU COST Action working group. His current research interests in astrobiology include early life, habitability, detection methods of biosignatures, and multidisciplinary SETI research.

Dr. Geoffrey Landis has been active in analysis of possible methods of interstellar flight since the 1980s. He is a researcher at the NASA John Glenn Research Center, where he works on developing advanced technologies for space. He has been involved in a number of space missions, including the Mars Pathfinder mission, the Mars Exploration Rovers, and the Parker Solar Probe. He is an AIAA associate fellow and a fellow of the British Interplanetary Society, a fellow of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, and the 2013 awardee of the AIAA Aerospace Power Award for contributions to power systems for planetary and space missions. He holds degrees in Physics and Electrical Engineering from MIT, and a Ph.D. in Physics from Brown. In his spare time, he is an award-winning science fiction writer.

Bart Leahy has been a technical writer in the space industry for 20 years. In that time, he has supported NASA organizations, including Marshall Space Flight Center, Johnson Space Center, Kennedy Space Center, Glenn Research Center, and NASA Headquarters; companies such as Schafer Corporation, Bryce Space & Technology, Advanced Space, and several launch vehicle producers; advocacy organizations such as the National Space Society, Space Frontier Foundation, Interstellar Research Group, and the Mars Foundation; and media outlets, including, Spaceflight Insider,, and Ad Astra. In addition, for ten years he has maintained the “Heroic Technical Writing” blog ( to educate students and young professionals about the business and personal aspects of being a technical writer. In 2020, he published a book based on his blog titled, Heroic Technical Writing: Making a Difference in the Workplace and Your Life. He hopes to retire somewhere off Earth someday.

Dr. Chris Limbach is an Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University and conducts his research at the Aerospace Laboratory for Lasers, Electromagnetics and Optics (ALLEMO). He received his PhD from Princeton University where he studied laser energy deposition and developed new diagnostic techniques for dissociated and ionized plasma flows. Dr. Limbach is the 2017 recipient of the Nakayama Award for Fluid Measurement and Visualization, is a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Program Fellow, and currently serves on the AIAA Plasmadynamics and Lasers Technical Committee. At Texas A&M, his research includes the application of high-speed lasers for hypersonic measurements and development of new diagnostic approaches for remote sensing and optical air data based on atomic and molecular vapor filters. In addition, his group studies the dynamical coupling between high power laser propagation and fluid dynamics in the context of atmospheric aero-optics and deep space propulsion.

Prof. Philip Mauskopf has a joint appointment at Arizona State University in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the Department of Physics. His main research area is experimental cosmology – in particular designing and building new types of instruments for characterizing the most distant objects in the universe and the anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background radiation. However, he has broad research interests that include
particle astrophysics, solid state physics and superconductivity, terahertz detectors and optics, atmospheric science, optical communications and quantum computing. He is the coordinator of the research and development Phase I activity of the communications technology challenge for the Breakthrough Starshot mission.

Brian McConnell is a software engineer, author and science communicator based in San Francisco. In 2010, he and Alexander Tolley published a paper in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society that detailed a spacecraft system architecture based on solar electric propulsion wherein water and consumable waste streams were the primary sources of propellant. This architecture resulted in order of magnitude improvements in mass budgets and mission endurance compared to spacecraft architectures where consumables were passive deadweight. In addition to his work on the spacecoach system architecture, Mr. McConnell has published a number of papers and books about the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, with an emphasis on information theory and anti-cryptographic communication systems. His most recent work in the field focuses on the development of information infrastructure to support the analysis and comprehension effort that would follow the detection of an information bearing signal by one of the SETI programs. He is also the author of the book, “The Alien Communication Handbook : SETI Found Something, So Now What?”, due out from Springer Nature in Summer 2021.

Dr Mike McCulloch gained a BSc in physics in 1991 and a PhD in ocean physics (physical oceanography) in 1995. He worked as an ocean and wave modelling scientist at the UK Met Office between 1998 and 2008, then became a lecturer in geomatics (the mathematics of positioning in space) at the University of Plymouth. Over the past 14 years he has published 27 papers proposing and testing a new model for inertia (called quantized inertia) that predicts galaxy rotation without dark matter, and a new form of propellant-less propulsion that enables interstellar travel in a human lifetime. He published a book on quantized inertia in 2014 called Physics from the Edge. In 2018 he won $1.3M in funding from DARPA to experimentally test this new propulsion method. He also likes sketching and drawing cartoons.

Joseph E. Meany, Ph.D. is a research scientist and science author. His research focuses on the applications of nanomaterials. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Interstellar Research Group, a non-profit forum of multidisciplinary individuals working together to facilitate solving interesting technical, economic, and social problems in the path of extrasolar travel. There, he is also producer of the series From Here to the Stars, an interview series on interstellar-related topics. He is the coauthor of Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World with physicist Les Johnson. Dr. Meany also speaks at science and sci-fi conventions as the Crimson Alkemist, discussing the benefits of science and chemistry for all.

David G Messerschmitt is the Roger A. Strauch Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) at the University of California at Berkeley. During retirement he continues his research in interstellar communications with application to the search for signatures of extraterrestrial technology, and communication with interstellar space probes. He started his career at Bell Laboratories, and at UC Berkeley has served as Chair of EECS and the Interim Dean of the School of Information. His doctorate is from the University of Michigan, and he is a Life Fellow of the IEEE, a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a recipient of the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal recognizing “exceptional contributions to the advancement of communication sciences and engineering”.

Marc Millis is best known for leading NASA’s “Breakthrough Propulsion Physics” project (1996-2007) that explored advances in physics pertinent to the goals of non-propellant spacedrives and faster-than-light flight. Next, he and his colleagues compiled the first scholarly book on those ambitions, “Frontiers of Propulsion Science” (AIAA 2009). In 2010, Millis took an early retirement from NASA to continue these pursuits via the nonprofit “Tau Zero Foundation,” where he served until 2018. In October 2019, Millis re-joined the Ohio Aerospace Institute to continue work on a NASA grant, “Breakthrough Propulsion Study,” to assess interstellar flight options. In the spring of 2017 and 2019, Millis collaborated on the “SpaceDrive Project” at the Technische Universität, Dresden, which included giving a short course, “Interstellar Flight and Propulsion Physics.” He also gave that course at Purdue University in 2017. His subject matter expertise spans physics, electronic engineering, cryogenic propellants, and electric space propulsion. He’s been featured in TV documentaries and magazines. For hobbies, he’s an accomplished scale model builder and has been a “maker-hacker” long before it was considered cool. Education: BS Physics, Georgia Tech (1982), International Space University Summer Session (1998), and MS Physics Entrepreneurship, Case Western Reserve University (2006).

Hayden Morgan is a NASA Space Technology Fellow at Texas A&M University where he is pursuing his MS in Aerospace Engineering in the Laser Diagnostics and Plasma Devices Laboratory. Hayden’s research focuses on the development of ground experiments for a novel directed energy form of space propulsion that utilizes an overlapped laser beam with an atomic rubidium jet to produce self-guiding. Hayden received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati in 2019.

Dr. Christopher Morrison is an Astro Nuclear Engineer at USNC-Tech in Seattle, Washington. He currently leads the development of the Chargeable Atomic Battery commercial radioisotope technology. He graduated from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in 2012 with a B.S. in aerospace engineering and computer science. His passion for aerospace led him to nuclear. He sees nuclear as a key technology for moving humanity beyond Earth orbit and as an area in need of development over the next decade. He pursued his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering and graduated in 2017 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Chris is a Department of Energy NEUP Fellow, NIAC Fellow, member of the Explorer’s club, and founder of https://sign-language-blitz.

Gonzalo Munévar: Born in Colombia, Ph.D. in philosophy of science, U.C. Berkeley. Professor Emeritus at Lawrence Technological University. Has published eight books about science (the latest is A Theory of Wonder, Vernon Press, 2021) and two novels. He has been invited as a visitor at universities in the U.S., Spain, Scotland, and Australia. NSF grant to develop courses on space exploration (1979). As Fellow at the Stanford Humanities spent 1983-1984 mainly discussing with space scientists at NASA Ames Research Center. Many publications in most areas of space exploration followed, including astrobiology, potential contact with extraterrestrial intelligences, the crucial importance of space science, the connection between space exploration and survival, and many others. Now retired, he does theoretical and experimental research on neuroscience. He is finishing The Dimming of Starlight, a book about the philosophy of space exploration. Also continues to write literature.

Dr. Gabriele Rizzo, Ph.D., APF, is a visionary futurist and an enthusiastic innovator.  A Ph.D. in String Theory and Astrophysics grown into a Defense leading expert in foresight, he is the NATO’s Member at Large (“world-class expert drawn from academia, industry or government from the Nations”) for Strategic Foresight and Futures Studies, the Chief Futurist of the University of Lausanne, and the Futures Advisor to the Chief Scientist of the U.S. Air Force and the Chief Scientist of the U.S. Space Force.  He has been also the advisor to the Italian Minister of Defense for Futures.  Gabriele advises Governments and Defenses on long-term strategies, foresight, game-changing technologies, and innovation convergence — the U.S., UK, Italy, Switzerland, NATO, United Nations, European Defense Agency, and other allied Governments and Fortune Global500 companies all number him among their ranks.  He has been leading deep futures visions in the 2060 timeframe of the U.S. Space Force and of the U.S. Air Force, the Italian Prime Minister’s Grand Strategy 2040, and several other senior major engagements on strategic foresight and futures.  His works inform $1 trillion worth of Defense planning.  Some were evaluated “important pillars of strategy and implementation of R&I” by the EU.  Others shape industrial investments in Research, Development, and Innovation for more than $25 billion in 2020.  Dr. Rizzo routinely gives keynotes in the U.S. and Europe, and is passionate about complexity, the Singularity, and peace.

Glen A. “Tony” Robertson is a Senior Aerospace Technologist at Kepler Aerospace (2019-present), tasked with the investigation of exotic propulsion methods. He has over 40 years of experience in propulsion, working as a jet mechanic in the Navy (1974-1978), as a solid propulsion test lead for the Naval Weapons Center at China Lake, CA (1984-1987), as an Aerospace Technologist in the Propulsion Directorate at the NASA – Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, AL (1987-2018). He has 10 patents and has published many papers on propulsion and power generation. Further, he was chair of the Science, Propulsion, and Energy Sciences International Forum (2008 – 2011).

Kenneth Roy is a retired professional engineer who is currently living in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. As a long-time hobby he has been working with the idea of colonization and terraforming of distant planets and moons. He invented the “Shell Worlds” concept as a way to terraform planets and large moons well outside the star’s Goldilocks’ zone. In 1997, he made the cover of the prestigious Proceeding of the U.S. Naval Institute for his forecast of anti-ship, space based, kinetic energy weapons. He has published papers in JBIS and Acta Astronautica on space settlements and geoengineering. Kenneth is a founding member of the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop (TVIW) and remains active in that organization. He enjoys reading science fiction, history, alternative history, military history, and books on terraforming.

Kai Staats is leading the development of a Space Analog for the Moon and Mars (SAM) at Biosphere 2, a hermetically sealed habitat analog. Within this unique vessel teams will conduct research related to plant physiology and ecology, microbial community evolution, CO2 sequestration, water recycling, pressure regulation; human food studies, and with the use of a pressure suit, EVA, tool use, and rover studies, and more.

Kai is also the lead of the SIMOC [see-mok] project, a scalable, interactive software model of an off-world community. SIMOC is built on published data derived from Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) and closed ecosystem research at NASA and universities world-wide. The goal for the users to design a habitat that sustains human life with a combination of physico-chemical ECLSS and bioregenerative (living plant) systems, and is scalable to accommodate a growing community. Kai is a co-author of “World Ships: Feasibility and Rationale” as well as many other publications spanning a wide range of interests.

Dr. Alan Stern is planetary scientist, a former NASA Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator, a former board chair of the Commercial Space flight Federation, and a current member of the National Science Board. In 2020, NASA selected Dr. Stern to fly the first NASA-
funded researcher aboard a Virgin Galactic suborbital space mission. He has been on 29 NASA and ESA space science mission teams, 14 of which he played a principal investigator (PI) role, including the nearly $1B New Horizons that was the first mission to explore Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, conducting farthest exploration of worlds in history. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), and The Explorer’s Club. In both 2007 and 2016 he was named to the Time 100.

Elisa Tabor is an undergraduate physics student at Stanford University, class of 2022. Her research interests lie in general cosmology, exoplanet astrophysics, and quantum mechanics. She published a paper on Fast Radio Bursts and has a paper on the detection of artificial lights from Proxima b awaiting publication, both with Professor Avi Loeb. On days when she isn’t learning about physics, she loves playing tennis and going on hiking or backpacking trips.

Jekan Thanga has a background in aerospace engineering from the University of Toronto. He worked on Canadarm, Canadarm 2, and the DARPA Orbital Express missions at MDA Space Missions. Jekan obtained his Ph.D. in space robotics at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) and did his postdoctoral training at MIT’s Field and Space Robotics Laboratory (FSRL). Currently, Jekan Thanga is an Associate Professor and heads the Space and Terrestrial Robotic Exploration (SpaceTREx) Laboratory at the University of Arizona. He and his team of students have co-authored 150 technical publications. He is the Engineering Principal Investigator on the AOSAT I CubeSat Centrifuge mission. He and his team of students were winners of the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award in 2016 for proposing the SunCube FemtoSat. In 2018, Jekan and his team were one of the winners of the MBR Space Settlement Challenge by Dubai Future Foundation and in 2019, Jekan co-authored a Best Paper Presentation Award at AMOS for the Early Warning Constellation to Detect Incoming Meteor Threats. In 2020, Jekan mentored student teams that were finalists for the NASA BIG Competition and in 2021, winners of the NASA RASCAL competition.

Dr. Ronald Turner has over 35 years of experience at ANSER, including expertise in space weather, life science systems, space systems analysis, space policy, space physics, orbital mechanics, remote sensing, and nuclear and particle physics. Dr. Turner has served as the Senior Science Advisor to the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program since 2010. For nine years he was the ANSER point of contact to its predecessor, the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC), an independent institute charged with creating a vision of future space opportunities to lead NASA into the twenty-first century. He is an internationally recognized expert in radiation risk management for astronauts, particularly in response to solar storms. He led an effort at NASA to understand NASA’s requirements for operational space weather support. He was recently (June 2021) selected to serve on NASA’s Space Weather Council, advising NASA on Space Weather research and operational support. Dr. Turner’s contributions to NASA were recognized with the award of the NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal in October, 2015. His advanced degrees in Physics include a Ph.D. from the Ohio State University and a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.

Colin Warn is an undergraduate mechanical engineering student at Washington State University (graduating fall ’21). His research interests dip into in everything from electric spacecraft propulsion, to small satellite development, to machine learning and machine vision applications for microrobotics. He currently has two papers on the topics of nuclear gas core rockets and interstellar braking mechanisms that are in the process of being published in peer reviewed journals. When he’s not working on his research, you can find him teaching music production classes.

Ken Wisian, Ph.D., Major General USAF (retired), is Associate Director, Environmental Division, Bureau of Economic Geology, Jackson School of Geoscience, The University of Texas at Austin is a geophysicist whose main research is in geothermal energy. Other current research includes; sensors, autonomy/drones, planetary geology/space exploration, SETI, infrastructure resiliency and international relations. He also holds appointments in the Center for Space Research and Geologic Sciences Departments at UT Austin, and is a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society. Previously, Dr. Wisian was a senior state executive responsible for disaster recovery, oil spill prevention and response, and coastal infrastructure and environmental protection for Texas. Militarily, General Wisian, a navigator/bombardier, flew bombers, transports and fighters, is a graduate of the USAF Test Pilot School and commanded the 147th Reconnaissance Wing flying the MQ-1 Predator (drone). General Wisian participated in or lead military disaster response efforts for the Shuttle Columbia crash and multiple hurricanes. Ken is a graduate of the US Air Force Test Pilot School and has more than 70 hours of medium and high-risk test flights. General Wisian has combat time in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans, and his medals include the Bronze Star and Air Medal.

Simon Peter “Pete” Worden, (Brig. Gen., USAF, Ret., PhD) (born 1949, in Michigan, USA) is the Chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation and Executive Director of the foundation’s ‘Breakthrough Initiatives’. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Michigan and a PhD in Astronomy for the University of Arizona.

Prior to joining the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, Dr. Worden was Director of NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, USA until his retirement on March 31, 2015. He has held several positions in the United States Air Force and was research professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona, Tucson, USA. He is a recognized expert on space and science issues – both civil and military, and has been a leader in building partnerships between governments and the private sector internationally.

Dr. Worden has authored or co-authored more than 150 scientific papers in astrophysics space sciences, and strategic studies. He served as a scientific co-investigator for three NASA space science missions – most recently the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph launched in 2013 to study the Sun.

He received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for the 1994 Clementine Mission to the moon. Dr. Worden was named the 2009 Federal Laboratory Consortium Laboratory Director of the Year and is the recipient of the 2010 Arthur C. Clarke Innovator’s Award.