Colonize the Colony Ship

Comet Hartley 2’s nucleus serves as a rough model for the Hitchhiker mission. Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD.

30 minutes ago my two co-authors (Constance Adams and Georgi Petrov) and I submitted our paper for the AIAA’s Space 2012 conference in Pasadena, held in September. Here’s out abstract:

Recent DARPA sponsorship of research on a hypothetical interstellar, crewed expedition has sparked renewed interest in multi-generational crewed spaceships. As a case in point, the Hundred Year Starship Study (100YSS) seeks to anticipate enabling technologies required to effect human ventures beyond the solar system. This paper examines the requirements, assumptions, and parameters of a multigenerational colonization mission. The complexities of such an interstellar mission are staggering, and given the current state of the art, are here outlined at the highest level. And while it may be commonly assumed that the primary challenges of such a mission are technological in nature, this paper takes up this problem as a complex “systems of systems”, not neglecting the architectural and social dimensions of such a mission. The authors suggest an energy-conservative, achievable mission architecture that maximizes in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) while assuming plausible technological advances in this century. The proposed Design Reference Mission (DRM) results in a ship that is scalable over time to accommodate a growing crew, proliferating skill requirements and increasing technological readiness levels. It is therefore anticipated that prior to the completion of the voyage to, and eventual colonization of, an exoplanet the starship itself is to be “colonized” by the initial and successive crews. In addition, a preliminary crew size predicated on an optimal steady-state ship population is proposed. The authors draw upon the scholarly and fictional literature addressing multigenerational starships as a means of underscoring social and ethical issues that will play significant roles in mission success.

Update: we weren’t able to attend the conference, but will be looking to get the article published this year if possible.


About François Lévy

Registered Texas architect, former university lecturer and researcher, CAD/BIM consultant and trainer. I hold an M.Arch as well as an MS in architectural engineering from the University of Texas at Austin; I've taught architecture courses there. I have been practicing since 1993, and established my own firm in 1997. I design buildings that capture the imagination, express regional beauty and a sense of place, and touch lightly on the earth. My projects reflect their cultural and geographical context, are accessible and comprehensible to the user, relevant to their surroundings, and contribute to a sense of place rather than obeying a preconceived architectural agenda. All my work—whether in teaching, research, or architecture—investigates the intersection of design, technology, and sustainability. I am particularly passionate about working collaboratively to create projects that eloquently express how we use and conserve energy and water, and inhabit the land. My architectural projects have attracted regional and national press, including Dwell Magazine and HGTV. My residential architectural work includes projects up to 10,000 SF, with project budgets up to $2M. Nonresidential work has included collaboration with other firms on commercial office buildings, school projects, and public infrastructure. In addition to leading Vectorworks seminars to architects for over a decade, I have presented and lectured widely on CAD and BIM. My current areas of research interest are sustainable architecture, BIM, cooling through passive ventilation, and space architecture, on which I have presented at international conferences. Specialties: Sustainable architecture, BIM (building information modeling), CAD, space architecture
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