Adrian Mann
A potential spacecraft called Icarus Pathfinder would be powered by VASIMR engines, taking it out to 1,000 AU (the distance between the Earth and sun).
By Assistant managing editor
updated 9/13/2012 11:36:44 AM ET 2012-09-13T15:36:44

Celebrities, scientists, artists and astronauts are converging here Thursday to discuss what it will take to send a spaceship to another star.

The second annual 100-Year Starship Symposium is kicking off, under the auspices of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), to ponder the technology, psychology, sociology and economics of interstellar spaceflight.

Notable attendees include actors Nichelle Nichols and LeVar Burton, who appeared on television's "Star Trek" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation," respectively; space journalist Miles O'Brien; alien-hunting astronomer Jill Tarter, a co-founder of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute; and Johnnetta Cole, director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. Former President Bill Clinton is backing the conference as its honorary chairman, and the symposium chairwoman is former astronaut Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel to space.

The meeting will run through Sunday, and will feature scientific presentations on the propulsion and other technologies that might be needed to send a probe to another star, as well as discussions of the social ramifications of becoming an interstellar civilization, and the biological consequences for humans traveling on multi-generation starships.

A special event will explore how art and fiction push the boundaries of science, while another will honor the 50 years of human spaceflight activities based out of NASA's Johnson Space Center here, and the anniversary of President John. F. Kennedy's speech charging the nation to send men to the moon.

  1. Space news from
    1. KARE
      Teen's space mission fueled by social media

      Science editor Alan Boyle's blog: "Astronaut Abby" is at the controls of a social-media machine that is launching the 15-year-old from Minnesota to Kazakhstan this month for the liftoff of the International Space Station's next crew.

    2. Buzz Aldrin's vision for journey to Mars
    3. Giant black hole may be cooking up meals
    4. Watch a 'ring of fire' solar eclipse online

The conference is being held at the Hyatt Regency Houston, and is open to the public.

Visit this week for complete coverage of the 100YSS Public Symposium.

You can follow Assistant Managing Editor Clara Moskowitz on Twitter @ClaraMoskowitz.Follow on Twitter  @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook  and  Google+.

© 2013 All rights reserved. More from


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments