≡ Menu

2019 Symposium Call for Papers

6th Interstellar Symposium and Interstellar Propulsion Workshop – TVIW 2019

In collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop (TVIW) hereby invites participation in its 6th Interstellar Symposium and Interstellar Propulsion Workshop -hosted by Wichita State University (WSU) and Ad Astra Kansas Foundation – to be held from Sunday, November 10 through Friday, November 15, 2019, in Wichita, Kansas. The 2019 TVIW has the following elements:

The NASA Workshop on Interstellar Propulsion will focus solely on physics-based propulsion technologies that have the potential to meet the goal of launching an interstellar probe within the next century and achieving .1c transit velocity: Beamed Energy Propulsion, Fusion, and Antimatter.

At this meeting, the state-of-the-art of each will be examined, competing approaches to advancing the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of each will be presented by advocates and assessed by non-advocates for synthesis into a workshop report to serve as the blueprint for possible future interstellar propulsion technology development.

The Interstellar Symposium will focus on all other aspects of interstellar travel excluding the advanced propulsion technologies to be covered in the NASA Workshop on Interstellar Propulsion, such as power, communications, system reliability/maintainability, psychology, crew health, anthropology, legal regimes and treaties, ethics, exoplanet science (possible destinations), and related research.

Working Tracks are collaborative, small group discussions around a set of interdisciplinary questions on an interstellar subject with the objective of producing “roadmaps” and/or publications to encourage further developments in the respective topics. This year we will be organizing the Working Tracks to follow selected plenary talks with focused discussions on the same topic.

Sagan Meetings. Carl Sagan famously employed this format for his 1971 conference at the Byurakan Observatory in old Soviet Armenia, which dealt with the Drake Equation. Each Sagan Meeting will invite five speakers to give a short presentation staking out a position on a particular question. These speakers will then form a panel to engage in a lively discussion with the audience on that topic.

Seminars are 3-hour presentations on a single subject, providing an in depth look at that subject. Seminars will be held on Sunday, November 10, 2019, with morning and afternoon sessions. The content must be acceptable to be counted as continuation education credit for those holding a Professional Engineer (PE) certificate.

Other Content includes, but is not limited to, posters, displays of art or models, demonstrations, panel discussions, interviews, or public outreach events.

Publications: Since TVIW serves as a critical incubator of ideas for the interstellar community, we intend to publish the work of TVIW 2019 in many outlets, including a complete workshop proceedings in book form.

No Paper, No Podium: If a written paper is not submitted by the final manuscript deadline, authors will not be permitted to present their work at the event. Papers should be original work that has not been previously published. Select papers may be submitted for professional publication, such as in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society (JBIS).

Video and Archiving: All TVIW events may be captured on video or in still images for use on the TVIW website, in newsletters and social media. All presenters, speakers and selected participants will be asked to complete a Release Form that grants permission for TVIW to use this content as described.


Abstracts for presented papers/presentations at TVIW 2019 may be submitted to either of two categories:

1. NASA Workshop on Interstellar Propulsion

2. Interstellar Symposium

Topics for Working Tracks, Sagan Meetings, Seminars, and Other Content are NOT solicited at this time.

Abstracts for the NASA Workshop on Interstellar Propulsion must relate to one of the three propulsion technologies of interest (Beamed Energy Propulsion, Fusion, and Antimatter) and should include the aspects of recent research, an assessment of the technology’s Technology Readiness Level (TRL) using NASA’s definitions found here, and a discussion of critical technical issues to be resolved with realistic, near-term technical development milestones identified (including relevant performance metrics).

Abstracts for the Interstellar Symposium must related to one or more of the many other interstellar mission related topics, such as power, communications, system reliability/maintainability, psychology, crew health, anthropology, legal regimes and treaties, ethics, exoplanet science (possible destinations), and propulsion technologies not explicitly called for in the NASA Workshop on Interstellar Propulsion.

Abstracts due: July 30, 2019.

All abstracts must be submitted online here.

PRESENTING AUTHOR(S) – Please list ONLY the author(s) who will actually be in attendance and presenting at the conference. (first name, last name, degree –for example, Susan Smith, MD)

ADDITIONAL AUTHORS – List all authors here, including Presenting Author(s) – (first name, last name, degree(s) – for example, Mary Rockford, RN; Susan Smith, MD; John Jones, PhD)

ABBREVIATIONS within the body should be kept to a minimum and must be defined upon first use in the abstract by placing the abbreviation in parenthesis after the represented full word or phrase. Proprietary drug names and logos may NOT be used. Non-proprietary (generic) names should be used.

ABSTRACT LENGTH – The entire abstract, (EXCLUDING title, authors, presenting author’s institutional affiliation(s), city, state, and text), including any tables or figures should be a maximum of 350 words. It is your responsibility to verify compliance with the length requirement.

Abstract Structure – abstracts must include the following headings:

  • Title – the presentation title
  • Background – describes the research or initiative context
  • Objective – describes the research or initiative objective
  • Methods – describes research methodology used. For initiatives, describes the target population, program or curricular content, and evaluation method
  • Results – summarizes findings in sufficient detail to support the conclusions
  • TRL Assessment and Justification (NASA Propulsion Workshop only)
  • Development Roadmap (NASA Propulsion Workshop only)
  • Near-term technical milestones and performance metrics (NASA Propulsion Workshop only)
  • Conclusions – states the conclusions drawn from results, including their applicability.

Questions and responses to this Call for Papers, Workshops and Participation should be directed to: info@tviw.us

For updates on the meeting, speakers, and logistics, please refer to the website: https://tviw.us/2019-symposium/

TVIW is incorporated in the State of Tennessee as a non-profit education organization. TVIW is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) educational, non-profit corporation by U.S. Internal Revenue Service. For U.S. tax purposes, all donations to TVIW are fully tax deductible (as allowed by your local laws).

Copyright © 2019 Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop, Inc. (TVIW), All rights reserved.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Alex Tolley February 12, 2019, 14:22

    Beamed Energy Propulsion, Fusion, and Antimatter.

    I wonder if these folks will attend?
    Princeton Satellite Systems.
    They claim they have a fusion drive that is apparently self-sustaining. I suspect what they are really saying is that they have an idea that they are working on. Nevertheless, if they have a novel approach, they should be presenting their ideas for scrutiny. Clearly, a fusion drive would be a game changer and one that could generate the needed energy for interstellar flight and launch larger robotic explorer payloads.

    • Doug Loss February 12, 2019, 15:22

      They’re certainly welcome to attend. I’ll get a personal invitation out to them to submit a paper, but even if they don’t they’d be good to have in attendance.

    • Alex Tolley February 12, 2019, 22:31

      I was watching a fun documentary Living Universe and a small segment is about the fusion drive this team is developing. The PI is claiming that a fusion drive ready for space should be available in 15 years, after 2 further iterations. That is a short enough timeline to just compete with Breakthrough Starshot in reaching an exoplanet. Relevant segment starts 1 hour 23 mins into the video.

    • Robert February 13, 2019, 15:11

      They act like practical self-sustaining fusion reactors are just around the corner… Especially if they get 50 million in funding! We’ve heard that before….

  • Charley February 12, 2019, 19:33

    Dear Mr. Gilster, I presume that you are attending this Tennessee workshop. What is always a particular point of fascination with me is whether or not there is anyone out there among the physics community, which is investigating the possibility of nonrelativistic FTL (faster than light) travel. Among your many scientific contacts do you know of anyone who is on the trail of such investigations?

    • Paul Gilster February 12, 2019, 21:30

      FTL is at the far end of possibility, but does get investigated now and again by people studying ideas like those of Miguel Alcubierre. The possibility of altering spacetime itself shows up occasionally at such conferences, though I don’t know if anything like that will emerge at this one. Sonny White’s team at JSC has continued to look at Alcubierre-like concepts, among others.

      • Charley February 13, 2019, 1:36

        Aside from the possibility of altering spacetime itself , is there any work being done that does not alter spacetime? That’s what I was asking.

        • Paul Gilster February 13, 2019, 9:01

          The study of wormholes continues — here I’d recommend Kip Thorne’s book Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy for the background information that Thorne and others have provided, motivating more recent work. As you can imagine, this is all highly theoretical.

      • Doug Loss February 13, 2019, 7:37

        Hello Paul and Charley,

        The TVIW symposium in Wichita will be in conjunction with a NASA interstellar propulsion workshop. That NASA workshop will focus on beamed-energy, fusion, and antimatter propulsion concepts. FTL concepts are at this time very theoretical and philosophical; this workshop will focus on concepts that groups are currently working on to create–“bending tin,” as it used to be said.

        The interstellar symposium portion of the joint event will cover aspects of interstellar exploration outside of those covered by the propulsion workshop, which could possibly include an examination of FTL concepts. It all depends on what papers get submitted for consideration, and the rigor with which they examine the topic at hand.

  • Robin Datta February 12, 2019, 20:24

    With the skies under greater scrutiny than ever before, one might realistically expect findings any time that could be Fermi paradox-resetting and paradigm-shifting. It places such conferences as this in a different light.

    • Doug Loss February 13, 2019, 7:41

      True, Robin. At the last TVIW symposium, in Huntsville, AL in October of 2017, Andrew Semion presented a “Pass the Torch” talk about similar topics:


    • Bill February 13, 2019, 8:04

      This result suggests life, like water, may be far more common than expected in the universe. If life is common the likelihood there is intelligent life elsewhere goes up. I look forward to the first discovery of extra terrestrial life in our own solar system.


  • Charley February 13, 2019, 12:06

    @Paul Gilster and Doug Loss
    “Video and Archiving: All TVIW events may be captured on video or in still images for use on the TVIW website, in newsletters and social media. All presenters, speakers and selected participants will be asked to complete a Release Form that grants permission for TVIW to use this content as described.”

    That paragraph above summarizes one of my slight frustrations that I feel with these workshops. There are some of us who would perhaps like to attend (if we were younger and healthier), but constraints on us prevent that.
    I have to say pretty strongly that videotaping and placing your contents online such as on YouTube (and I’ll explain why in a moment) is a guarantor that you will attract a much wider audience to your message. There are those out there such as myself who look forward very much to knowing what is being discussed by your presenters, but if it’s not videotaped and made accessible, then you have lost an audience member. So, I’d strongly recommend that you attempt to place as much content online, as is humanly possible. The interest is out there, but it is up to you to make it available, and notify people that it is available for them to view.
    Why YouTube? Well, just between you and me and the rest of the world. I’ve had a lot of difficulty accessing live streams (because of my appalling ignorance of understanding how it works) and I find that recorded content on YouTube is something which I can find, and I do understand how to get to. That’s why I would strongly suggest that. I have a feeling that there are a lot of people who are equally uncomfortable with some of these other streaming services, but are too embarrassed to admit so.

    • Alex Tolley February 13, 2019, 15:33

      I concur. Permanent archiving is always the best ultimate solution. Even when one can enable live streaming, it may run at inconvenient times, and the long lunch gaps are annoying if the live stream is left running. I much prefer being able to watch particular talks at my leisure, especially when I want to follow up by looking for the relevant journal papers when my interest is piqued.

      The 2017 TVIW was archived on Youtube (search “TVIW”) as individual talks. I hope the same happens with this year’s talks. [I have found that sometimes when there are parallel tracks at conferences, only one track may be recorded.]

      • Doug Loss February 13, 2019, 16:49

        Not only the 2017 presentations, Alex, but those from our previous symposia also. You can see them all on YouTube, or go to our website and follow the instructions below to get to the presentations from each symposium.

        We record all our presentations. When there are parallel tracks, we record them all.

  • Doug Loss February 13, 2019, 15:56

    You misunderstand, Charley, all of our presentations are already online on YouTube, and linked to from our website. Just go to https://tviw.us, then select Interstellar Symposia and the year of interest (e.g., 2017 – Huntsville, AL), then click on the presentation video archive link. Or you can go to YouTube directly and just search for “TVIW.”

    We will be livestreaming the presentations from Wichita, also. But if you can’t watch them as they happen, we’ll be editing the recordings and putting those versions online a short while after the symposium.

  • Marc Millis February 14, 2019, 11:24

    Regarding FTL and other new-physic-required propulsion at the symposium:
    (1) In order to include presentations on this topic, there will have to be decent abstracts submitted.
    (2) These topics are more difficult to work – not just because there is virtually no funding – but because this work requires a strict blend of rigor and vision. This topic requires a degree of quality beyond the norm (exceptional claims need exceptional proof).
    (3) A starting point to learn what has been done and what research could happen is in the book, ‘Frontiers of Propulsion Science,’ Millis & Davis, eds, AIAA 2009.
    (4) The only FTL research that I know of now is by Dr. Gerald Cleaver at Baylor Univ.
    (5) There is a “spacedrive” experimental research project at the Tech Univ of Dresden Germany, led by Dr. Martin Tajmar.

    • Doug Loss February 14, 2019, 19:18

      It’s worth mentioning that Dr. Cleaver is a past participant in TVIW symposia. Whether he will be presenting at this one is not yet determined, but the possibility exists.