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Starship Congress 2013

This week is just full of aerospace news bites. And I’m only talking about the interesting bits. I want to talk about two in particular – the impending Starship Congress and the recent docking of a Chinese craft at a Chinese space station with Chinese astronauts inside. I’m only going to be focusing on just one for right now, however. The next article will post later.

I’m a bit uncomfortable with a company that takes inspiration from a guy who fell to his death after flying too close to the sun, however. (Image credit: Icarus Interstellar)

First things first: this weekend, an exciting Kickstarter gets funded, which I think has been entirely motivated by swag and bragging rights. And I am all ABOUT some swag. This Kickstarter is to fund the marketing for the first ever Starship Congress, which will be held on August 15 – 19 in Dallas, Texas.

Yep, you heard me right. This is not to fund the conference itself (which probably cost a good deal more than the goal of $10,000) but to fund the ads about the conference. Seriously, whoever is doing the marketing for this is brilliant. Starship Congress will probably get as much publicity from the Kickstarter as from the campaign funded by the Kickstarter.

If we had engineers this clever, we wouldn’t have to worry about rockets blowing up. Which only MIGHT be an exaggeration. (Image credit: AP)

The conference itself is really intriguing: encourage research (and other steps which may be less scientific – the dreaded political and budgetary nonsense) that has the ultimate goal of interstellar exploration and expansion by 2100. It will discuss what sorts of technology to enable such travel exists now, will exist soon, and will need to be developed. The conference is being put on by Icarus Interstellar, which has been working on developing (on paper, of course) interstellar spacecraft since the 1970s, in one form or another.

This doesn’t come out of left field, as DARPA recently held a 100-Year Starship Symposium, which resulted in hard research being initiated on the Alcubierre Drive. In case you don’t know what this is, it’s essentially a warp drive that skirts around the laws of physics by changing the space around it. And there’s a whole crop of slower-than-light concepts that designers have been trying to sell people on for years. … Okay, I say recently, but it turns out, it’s been a couple years. And they’re having another one this year.

Seriously, faster-than-light travel made possible because of a loophole in physical laws? I’ll take it!

While I am fighting an urge to go, it’s not really off to a very auspicious start. The weekend that the Starship Congress is scheduled for is the same weekend that the Mars Society is holding their 16th annual convention in Boulder, Colorado. A very specific set of people with a very narrow set of interest and skills is going to be interested in the Congress, and these folks are probably already planning on attending the Mars Society Convention.

So I don’t expect this event to be wildly successful, and that’s really a shame. This is the sort of thing that I want to succeed so badly that it’s hard for me NOT to throw money at it. But hey, they’re giving mugs to people who give $20!

I have a thing about swag.

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