Working Tracks

Working Tracks are collaborative, small group discussions around a set of interdisciplinary questions on an interstellar subject. In previous years, we’ve hosted up to four parallel tracks with participants discussing topics such as: spaceship design; life-systems design; propulsion systems; target (planetary and stellar) selection; prerequisite technology development; and human factors necessary for interstellar exploration and colonization.

Working Tracks will be allocated 2-hour blocks each day for in-depth conversation between participants, led by a Track Moderator, and work best with participants who have engaged in pre-symposium reading and discussion with other Track participants.  Working Track Full Proposals shall recommend tangible output (papers, workshops, seminars, etc.) from the Symposium.  Prior forms of output have included space exploration blogs, scientific papers in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society and non-fiction/fiction anthologies.

Descriptions of the Working Tracks follow:

Step by Step to the Stars

This working track will investigate ways to influence society in general to
ensure long-term, continuing support for the interstellar effort. Even before
determining who will go, and what they will need to take, there are industrial
and financial capabilities are needed, both on and off earth, to make
interstellar exploration feasible.

In order for interstellar exploration to begin (and continue), there must be
deep, long-lasting support from at least a significant portion of terrestrial
society, along with the ability to construct and support the vessels needed,
and the infrastructure to operate them and their ancillary requirements
(communication, consumables, etc.). This working track will consider how this
support can be engendered, expanded, and (possibly) institutionalized. Output
of the working track will include recommendations on how to start building the
infrastructure for societal motivation, mission support, and mission decisions
(such as targets, crew & cargo selection).

Planning for First Contact/SETI – Starting Now!

This working track will discuss the framework for a traveling science
exhibition with the working title Extraterrestrial Life & Civilizations:
Science and Speculation. The exhibition’s conceptual framework might be
built around a quote attributed to Arthur Clarke: “Either we are alone in
the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”

The proposed “first contact” scenario is that you are in deep space, beyond
ready communication with Earth and therefore have only your immediate
resources at hand. You encounter an artificial object of unknown (though not
of human) origin… what do you do? What is the plan? How do you avoid
starting a conflict, how do you protect humanity’s interests? What can you
do to establish communication? Earth-based SETI and METI will also be

The outcome of the workshop would be an exhibition flow diagram outlining the
topics, documentation of key messages, diagrams of the interpretive
organization, conceptual sketches, and, afterwards, a concept proposal. The
proposed exhibition would put visitors into the shoes of scientists,
engineers, economists, politicians, and aliens to explore question about
cosmology, life, civilization, spaceflight, communication technologies, and
the scale of space‐time.

The Evolving Role of Security & Intel in Space – Turning Paranoia into

This working track will discuss the evolving role of Security and Intelligence
in interplanetary and interstellar exploration and colonization. The emphasis
will be on “evolving,” in other words, how does S&I become thoroughly
integrated with exploration goals and missions and not simply become “red
shirts” to be expended at whim.

It will also discuss the needs of an interstellar colonization mission, both
the composition of the group of colonists, the consumables needed during the
voyage, and the materiels both biological and industrial needed to construct a
viable colony upon arrival in the target star system.

Building a starship is only part of the problem of interstellar colonization.
This working track will act as the “S-2” and “S-4” for the mission,
determining what the mission needs and how to make it available

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