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.