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A Bill for a Starfaring Future

Back in 2012 I reported on Peter Garretson’s What Our Civilization Needs is a Billion Year Plan, an essay advocating a robust human expansion to the stars. Lt. Col. Garretson lives and breathes futuristic issues. A transformational strategist for the US Air Force, he has served as an airpower strategist and strategic policy advisor to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force on his Strategic Studies Group, the Chief of Irregular Warfare Strategy, Plans and Policy, and spent four years as the Chief of Future Technology for HQ USAF Strategic Planning. He is currently an Instructor of Joint Warfare at Air Command and Staff College and the lead for Space Horizons, Air University’s endeavor to “re-imagine spacepower in the age of asteroid mining.” A long-time space advocate, he has written widely on issues ranging from planetary defense to solar power; you can follow his work at his website: http://www.petergarretson.com/. In today’s open letter to Centauri Dreams, he lays down a first draft for a bill aimed at energizing NASA’s role in developing the technologies needed for starflight.

by Peter A. Garretson


Sooner or later we are going to discover an Earth-like exoplanet, and when we do, we are going to want to go there. The 100 Year Starship, Icarus Interstellar, Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop, Initiative for Interstellar Studies, Tau Zero and Centauri Dreams are all catalyzing terrific work that forwards general spacefaring and space industrial capabilities. And like NASA’s BPP more low-dollar work could lead to great NIAC-like thinking and advances. Those of us who already know that this should be our direction should have ready legislation to move forward. Here is an initial draft of what might be in such a bill:

Gene Roddenberry Memorial America Starfaring / Starship bill.

It is the will of the Congress that America should become a star-faring civilization, bringing new life to uninhabited worlds, ensuring our continuity, security and prosperity for our posterity. It is the will of the American people for America to develop the capability to “seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.”

And if it is the dream of Congress, by America’s Quadricentennial (2176) America will have reached another star.

To that end, NASA, the DOE, and DoD are authorized and encouraged, in concert, and in concert with private industry and academia to:

  • Develop technologies and capabilities to enable interstellar probes
  • Develop propulsion and life support capabilities that could enable a manned mission in a single human lifetime
  • Develop off-Earth industrial capability to construct and launch such missions through space resource utilization (space mining and space power)
  • Enable thriving off-Earth communities and a space economy that could support the expense of such a mission

NASA is directed to:

  • Sponsor a Conference every two years to review the most exciting and profitable destinations and present visions and ideas to the public
  • Review and present to the public progress and conceptual designs for interstellar missions
  • Present to Congress, every two years, the most exciting and profitable destinations beyond our heliopause, and progress in the necessary technology.

Air University Space Horizons Activity Lead


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Robert December 14, 2015, 14:26

    “Name a technological goal that was initiated somewhere around the US Civil War that we are just finishing, or anything in between with such a long time horizon. The fusion power example is “always 30 years away” has become a joke with the obvious point that it is promoted as being feasible within a human lifetime, so keep funding.”

    Fusion is far more feasible within the foreseeable future especially now that new avenues have opened up and several corporate ventures are now working on the problem.

    The results from the Paris Climate talks show a crystallization of a long simmering planetary movement to secure a long term clean energy future and might be ultimately interpreted as the kind of societal movement required to create a spacefaring civilization being decades in the making.

  • Alex Tolley December 14, 2015, 15:18


    especially now that new avenues have opened up and several corporate ventures are now working on the problem.

    The key point is corporate. They can try different approaches and take the risks and forward of success or failure. I am all for government doing research into fusion, much like Naca did research into wing sections for flight. But the big spending on development should be private to encourage different ideas, competition and no guaranteed outcome.

  • Stan Erickson January 8, 2016, 15:37

    It is wonderful to see such enthusiasm, echoed by many commenters, that we should go to some stars. It is also wonderful to see that some commenters see some of the intrinsic problems in doing so. I do not see how the excitement some people see in looking at the short-term objectives can overcome the long-term obstacles. Perhaps a bit more thinking about the subject is in order so that the enthusiasts can work on the obstacles. In other words, talk to each other.
    Or read this: stanericksonsblog.blogger.com