TVIW 2017

The Fifth Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop

Step by Step: Building A Ladder to the Stars

October 3 through 6, 2017
Huntsville, Alabama

In collaboration with Starship Century and Tau Zero Foundation

The TVIW 2017 Symposium was held in Huntsville, Alabama, from October 3-6, 2017, at the Embassy Suites hotel.  Over 140 attendees spent three days hearing cutting edge presentations by leaders in the space and interstellar fields.  The whole group of participants filled the stairs at the Embassy Suites.  All the talks were taped by our president and videographer John Preston, with the help of Rob Fowler, and are archived here.

With the help of our collaborators, we drew speakers from the Breakthrough Initiative, from NASA facilities, US Congressmen, and representatives from the military sector.  Our attendees came from all over the US (New Hampshire to California, Minnesota to Florida), as well as Canada, Finland, Russia, and Italy.

The symposium began, as in the past, with a day of seminars on Tuesday:  Conflict in Space by Maj. Brent Ziarnick; Laser Propulsion by Edward (Sandy) Montgomery; and Humans in Space by Dr. Robert Hampson.

Also on Tuesday was a tour of the ULA plant in Decatur, AL, where they produce Delta and Atlas rockets, which was very popular with those who went.

And of course, we had our traditional Opening Reception on Tuesday, once again sponsored by Baen Books and hosted by Toni Weisskopf.  With an over the top buffet, it started the symposium out with a bang.

Wednesday, attendees got down to work, starting the day with Pete Klupar speaking on ‘Are We Alone?’, and continuing with several other speakers from Breakthrough Star Shot.

After lunch, we split into groups for more presentations.  The day ended with the working tracks , a Sagan meeting (something new for 2017), and some discussion groups.

Wednesday evening was the reception for our Artist Guest of Honor, Chris Wade.

In the atrium and restaurant of the hotel, we had poster sessions and a string quartet to provide entertainment.

Thursday highlighted speakers brought in by Tau Zero Foundation, with an emphasis on propulsion.

Thursday night brought everyone to the US Space and Rocket Center for German food under the Saturn V.  Then Andrew Siemion spoke on ‘The Search for Ourselves Among the Stars’, as part of the Pass the Torch lecture series.  A wonderful talk in an energizing atmosphere.

The Leadership Panel of guests started our Friday, with Dr. Paul McConnaughey (Associate Director, NASA MSFC), Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), and Gen. Steven Kwast (Air University, MAFB).

The panel covered the present views from Washington and NASA as well as Gen. Kwast advocating for more involvement by America in space endeavors.

Friday’s speakers covered a variety of topics from exoplanets to solar sails.  The working tracks and Sagan meeting met for a last time, and the tracks provided concluding reports on their efforts.  Paul Gilster gave an amazing sum up of the symposium.

We all went our ways to Friday dinner but returned in time for the SF Writers Panel at 8:00 pm.  This public event was well attended, with the autograph session afterwards being a big draw.

We retired to the Hospitality Suite to enjoy the company of new friends.

Our deepest thanks to our collaborators and sponsors, without whom this symposium would not have been possible:



as well as our individual donors: Ken Roy, John Preston, and Vershall Roy.

TVIW 2017 Organizing Committee:

Les Johnson (Chair), John Preston, Martha Knowles, David Fields, Ken Roy, Sandy Montgomery, Robert Hampson, Doug Loss, Joseph Meany, Rhonda Stevenson, Jim Benford, Robert Freeland, Richard Fischer, Fritz Fotovich, John Trieber, Rain Glynn, Yohon Lo, Abby Sherriff, Dru Myers, Mark Shafer