The Institute for Interstellar Studies


by Paul Gilster on October 12, 2012

by Kelvin F. Long

I recently asked Kelvin Long to write an introduction to the Institute for Interstellar Studies he has created, and he was kind enough to send along a useful overview, along with a backgrounder on his own work: “Kelvin Long is an aerospace engineer and physicist. He is chief editor of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, author of the book Deep Space Propulsion: A Roadmap to Interstellar Flight, and was the key founder behind the starship design study Project Icarus. Since 2007 he has worked to catalyse the interstellar community through the organization of lectures, symposia, publications and design studies. He is currently the Executive Director for the Institute for Interstellar Studies, founded in August 2012.” Here Kelvin describes the new Institute and relates its mission to prior work in deep space technologies.

The subject of Interstellar Studies derives its name from a set of special red cover issues of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, published between 1974–1991. These issues included papers on interstellar communications and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). This collection of papers represents a golden age of interstellar research. Indeed, the British Interplanetary Society (established 1933) has been the ‘torch holder’ of the interstellar vision for much of the last half century. Prior to this, the first technical paper addressing the interstellar challenge was published in the same journal in 1952 by Dr Les Shepherd. This can be considered the beginning of interstellar studies as an academic research subject. Throughout the last 60 years many papers have been published addressing the science and technology associated with interstellar flight. Publications have also examined wider questions of social consequences, philosophical viewpoints and political or economic issues. This large body of work demonstrates that the interstellar challenge is one that engulfs a broad range of subjects and likely requires the application of a multitude of solution types.

Read more: The Institute for Interstellar Studies — Centauri Dreams.

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