ISDC 2014 covered a number of broad topic areas organized into parallel program tracks and sub-tracks. They covered diverse areas such as exploration of the Moon, settlement of Mars, space resources, energy from space, education, and space policy. Concepts covered were both near term and far term, and involved everything from innovative science to profitable business plans. At ISDC 2014, we also found out how everyone will live and work in space. We found out what space settlement will be like: food, art, style, and sports.
Living in Space covered various disciplines ranging from philosophy to exotic propulsion systems, with topics including the Mars Desert Research Station, ISS resource utilization, black hole propulsion systems, and asteroid mining.
The Mars track addressed various questions about the Red Planet: When will humankind reach Mars? Will it be a round trip or colonization? How will we get there, and what is the status of the key enabling technologies? What is the best policy for exploring the Red Planet?
NASA Exploration included four subtracks: Asteroids, as threat to the Earth and as resources; Emerging science and technology, covering breakthroughs in planetary science, propulsion science and navigation, electromagnetic communications and electrified media, and human factors; Lunar, specifically exploration, settlement and resources; and Space exploration, focused on robotic and human exploration of space.
Space and Media was offered for the first time at ISDC, taking advantage of the proximity of Hollywood. Space and Media topics included the special effects of movies such as “Gravity,” “Oblivion,” and “Star Trek: Into Darkness”; the making of “COSMOS”; graphic novels; new movie theater and virtual reality technologies; and how the news media covers space.
Space Solar Power (SSP) covered the technology on a broad level (eg, “The Case for Space Solar Power” by track co-chair John Mankins) as well as a detailed level (eg, “Phased Array Antenna Patterns for Wireless Power Transmission,” presented by OASIS Board Member and NSS Board of Advisors member Seth Potter), as well as the economics and politics involved in making SSP a reality.
Space Engagement featured the different ways to educate, engage and inspire the public about space exploration. Topics included education; entertainment; media; incentive-based programs; global initiatives such as STEM, sustainability, and the environment; other industries (such as the arts, health and law); and geographical significance.
Space Enterprise addressed business plans, projects, and concepts that could, within 10 years, become profitable and offer a competitive return to investors. The track also covered capital and services, governmental support, and legal and regulatory issues needed for Space Enterprise to become a sustainable sector of the world economy.
Space Experience outlined what life would be like in space. Talks covered space tourism, suborbital spaceflight for private individuals, fashion, food and drink, music, manufacturing technologies in microgravity, and space careers.
Space Policy spotlighted areas of space policy that the NSS Policy Committee leadership believes will be among the most important in coming years. Examples included space solar power, lowering the cost of access to space, and space law.
Space Settlement was organized by members of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space Colonization Technical Committee. The presentations provided a sampling of space colonization requirements, designs, supporting technologies, and infrastructure topics.
Transhumanism addressed how human innovation would improve the human condition through the use of advanced technologies. The speakers described technologies that aim to boost physical and cognitive functions well beyond natural human capabilities, from which the term “transhuman” was coined.