8th Interstellar Symposium Program

The 8th Interstellar Symposium runs from Monday July 10 to Thursday July 13, with pre-symposium seminars taking place on Sunday July 9.

Unless otherwise stated, most events will take place in Room 26 of the Leacock Building on the McGill University downtown Campus.


Sunday: Delta Hotel, OPUS I, 12 pm – 6 pm
Mon-Thu: Leacock Building Lobby, 8:30 am – 5 pm

Sunday July 9 Seminars

Checking-in is not required prior to attending the seminars.

Seminars award continuing education credits and are not part of the main Symposium program. Registration for these seminars is independent from Symposium participation.

Seminars will take place in rooms FDA 3 and FDA 5 of the Frank Dawson Adams building, though entrance will be via the McConnell Engineering building.

10:00 am – 1:00 pmBrent Ziarnick
“Vanquishing Dark Skies: The Role of National Space Forces in Security, Safety, and Prosperity through Space Exploration”
1:00 pm – 2:00 pmBreak
2:00 pm – 5:00 pmLaura Montgomery
“Space Law: An Overview, Past, Present, and Future”
Alex Ellery
“Self-Replication Technology Route to Space Industrialization”

Monday July 10

9:00 am – 9:30 amOpening Ceremony
9:30 am – 10:00 amPatron Presentations
10:00 am – 10:30 amCoffee Break
10:30 am – 11:30 amKeynote
Frank Tipler
“The Ultimate Rocket and the Ultimate Energy Source, and Their Use in the Ultimate Future”
11:30 am – 12:00 pmJoseph Gottlieb
“Should we colonize (interstellar) space?”
12:00 pm – 12:30 pmClaudio Maccone
“Human Interstellar Expansion driven by Gravitational Lensing”
12:30 pm – 1:30 pmLunch
University Centre, Ballroom
1:30 pm – 2:30 pmPanel Presentation
Alan Stern, Stephane Lintner, Setthivoine You
“Helicity Fusion Propulsion Drive: The Company, the Technology and the Applications”

2:30 pm – 3:00 pmCoffee Break
3:00 pm – 3:30 pmAlex Gmerek
“Searching for Extrasolar Life – An Astrobiology Payload for Interstellar Missions”
3:30 pm – 4:00 pmViktor Toth
“Look before you leap: Using the Solar Gravitational Lens to explore exoplanets”
4:00 pm – 5:00 pmTour of McGill University Laboratories
Laser Thermal Rocket / Shock Tube for Lightsail Dynamics / Implosion Driven Launcher / Magnetized Target Fusion
McConnell Engineering Building, Entrance
5:00 pm – 7:00 pmWelcome Reception
Cinq à Sept
Delta Hotel Outdoor Patio
7:30 pm – 9:00 pmPublic Outreach Event: Interstellar Travel: Are We Ready?
Les Johnson, AJ Link, Alan Stern, Philip Lubin, Erika Nesvold, Trevor Kjorlien
McGill – Leacock Building, Auditorium 132

Tuesday July 11

9:00 am – 10:00 amKeynote
Dr. Rebecca (Becky) McCauley Rench
“The Search for Life and Habitable Worlds at NASA—Past, Present, and Future”
10:00 am – 10:30 amAradhana Choudhuri
“Applications and Design Guidelines for High Power Lasers in Space Exploration”
10:30 am – 10:45 amCoffee Break
10:45 am – 11:15 amPhilip Lubin
“Large Scale Directed Energy for Relativistic Flight”
11:15 am – 11:45 amRichard Norte
“Propelling Interstellar Exploration: Extreme-Aspect-Ratio Metamaterials in a Post-Moore Era”
11:45 am – 12:15 pmPresentation from Limitless Space Institute
Sonny White
“Interstellar, the Ultimate Moonshot”
12:15 pm – 1:30 pmLunch
Michelle L.D. Hanlon
“Identifying and Safeguarding Cultural Heritage in Outer Space”
Thomson House, Ballroom
1:30 pm – 3:00 pmSagan Meeting
“How would you select a crew of one hundred people for the first interstellar mission?”
3:00 pm – 4:00 pmCoffee Break
Poster Session 1
4:00 pm – 4:30 pmJerry Carson
“Direct Fusion Drive based on Centrifugal Mirror Confinement”
4:30 pm – 5:00 pmPascal Lee
“N ~ 1: Alone in the Milky Way”
6:00 pm – 8:00 pmScience Fiction Author Panel
Karl Schroeder, Les Johnson, Eric Choi, Sylvain Neuvel
Delta Hotel

Wednesday July 12

9:00 am – 10:00 amKeynote
Stephen Webb
“Silence is Golden: SETI and the Fermi Paradox”
10:00 am – 10:30 amTom Bone
“Bremsstrahlung Power Conversion for Fusion Power and Propulsion in Space”
10:30 am – 11:00 amCoffee Break
11:00 am – 11:30 amRobert M Freeland II
“Infrastructure Development Leading to the First Long-Duration Interstellar Probe”
11:30 am – 12:00 pmJeffrey Greason
“Sunbeam: Near-Sun Statites as Beam Platforms for Beam-Driven Rockets”
12:00 pm – 1:00 pmLunch
Thomson House, Ballroom
1:00 pm – 1:30 pmClément Vidal
“The Spider Stellar Engine: A fully-steerable extraterrestrial design?”
1:30 pm – 2:00 pmGerrit Bruhaug (standing in for Lucas Beveridge)
“X-ray and γ-ray Beam Interstellar Communication and Implications for SETI”
2:00 pm – 2:30 pmLynn Rothschild
“Star Trek meets ET: (synthetic) biology as an enabling technology for space exploration”
2:30 pm – 3:00 pmRené Heller
“Maneuvering Interstellar Light Sails”
3:00 pm – 4:00 pmCoffee Break
Poster Session 2
“Work in Progress”
4:00 pm – 4:30 pmJohn Bradford
“Prospects for Enabling Human Hibernation for Ultra-Long Distance Space Travel”
4:30 pm – 5:00 pmJames C. Bennett
“Development of a Model Framework for Examining Language and Cultural Issues in Human Starfaring Civilizations”
5:00 pm – 5:30 pmJoseph Cassady
“A Near Term Interstellar Mission Enabled by the Space Launch System”
5:30 pm – 6:00 pmKirill Zatrimaylov
“On the wormhole-warp drive correspondence”
7:00 pm – 9:00 pmBanquet
Delta Hotel

Thursday July 13

9:00 am – 9:30 amPresentation from Breakthrough Initiatives
Harry Atwater
“From Science to Spacecraft and Missions”
9:30 am – 10:00 amColin Warn
“The Promise of Beamed Energy for Spacecraft Propulsion and Power”
10:00 am – 10:30 amAlex Ellery
“Hybrid Symbolic-Neural Approaches to Artificial Intelligence for Interstellar Missions”
10:30 am – 11:00 amCoffee Break
11:00 am – 11:30 amStephen Fleming
“Multi-Aperture Telescopes at the Quantum Limit of Superresolution Imaging”
11:30 am – 12:00 pmGregory Matloff
“Aerographite: A Candidate Material for Interstellar Photon Sailing”
12:00 pm – 12:30 pmClosing Ceremony
AfternoonTour of the Canadian Space Agency Headquarters
1:00-5:00 pm

Tour of the headquarters with CSA employees, including the mission control room, Canadarm training facilities, robotics lab, and the indoor and outdoor rover yards

Limited capacity, not included in main Symposium ticket
Tour of Space Explorers: THE INFINITE virtual reality experience
2:00-4:00 pm

Hour-long VR exhibit putting you in the suit of an astronaut on the International Space Station. 360° footage captured aboard the ISS promises a breathtaking experience of life in orbit.

Limited capacity, not included in main Symposium ticket