In the early 1960s, UCLA graduate student Michael Minovitch sat
behind what was then the world's fastest computer fastidiously
working on solving one of the most troublesome problems in celestial
mechanics -- the "three body problem."
Last Wednesday [Nov. 10, 2014], decades after providing a solution that has helped send numerous spacecraft on interstellar journeys, Minovitch stood with pen in hand after signing ORNL's supercomputer. It also happened to be the day the European Space Agency landed a probe
Before Minovitch, the "three body problem," which refers to the gravitational influences two astronomical bodies such as the sun and a planet exert on a third -- an asteroid for instance -- had perplexed scientists since Isaac Newton's time. Additionally, in the early years of space exploration, the outer planets were considered too distant to reach, as the sun's gravitational pull required a space-going vessel to have more rocket propellant than was realistic.
While at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Minovitch coded equations and ran simulations that gave him insight into the "three body problem." He applied his research to another interstellar body -- spacecraft -- and found that if a craft flew close enough to a planet orbiting the sun, some of the planet's orbital speed could be used to slingshot it away from the sun, eliminating the need for additional fuel and opening up the outer solar system to human exploration.
The stars aligned in the late 1970s when another JPL researcher, Gary Flandro, found that Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune would all be located on the same side of the solar system. With Minovitch's slingshot trajectory discovery in mind, NASA launched the Voyager missions.
In 2012, Voyager 1 left the solar system, and Voyager 2 follows close behind. Other great planetary missions -- Mariner, Pioneer and Cassini -- have also used Minovitch's slinghshot solution.
Minovitch stopped by the Lab while attending the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop in Oak Ridge. -- Chris Samoray
Reprinted with permission of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, DOE.
On behalf of the TVIW Board and TVIW 2014 Committee, and to our attendees, sponsors, and guests, thank you for making TVIW 2014 a success! If you have comments or suggestions, please let us know.
Want to hear a panel of prominent Scientists and Science Fiction authors
discuss how Interstellar Exploration can stimulate Science, Technology,
Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) education? Come to the
DoubleTree Hotel in Oak Ridge on Tuesday, November 11 at 7:00 PM for
this public meeting and discussion.
The speakers are:
The FREE event is sponsored by TVIW and Baen Books. Books will be available for purchase and signing.
Congratulations to Noah Frere and Andrew Kirkpatrick! They have been chosen as the co-winners of the TVIW 2014 Essay Contest. We were very pleased with the quality of the entries we received and the two essays tied for the award.
(subject to change)
Plenary Paper Presentations:
Dr. Sara Seagar (MIT), our keynote speaker, The Search for Earth 2.0: Extrasolar Planetary Discoveries.
Dr. Robert Hampson (Wake Forest), There's Nothing Like a Little (Biomedical Science... in Space!
Dr. Robert "Sam" Lightfoot, Lacking Tools, Information, and Hope: The Results of the First Attempts in Colonization and Exploration in La Florida and Later Improvements.
John C. Mankins (AIMS), Space Solar Power: a (Mostly) Commercial Path to the Stars...
Dr. Michael A. Minovitch (Icarus Interstellar), Ground-To-Orbit Fusion Propulsion System for Achieving Commercial Interplanetary Space Travel.
Gordon Woodcock, A Construction Scenario for O'Neill Cylinder Space Settlement Habitats.
Les Johnson, An Interstellar Sail Before 2020.
Rob Swinney, Project Icarus, an Update.
Dr. James Benford (Microwave Sciences, Inc.), Key Issues for Sailships.
Andreas Hein, Technological Capabilities and Interstellar Travel: Can an Individual Build a Starship One Day?
Edward Montgomery, Laser Sail Propulsion Beyond the Solar System -- Extrapolation from Current High Energy Laser Technology.
Amy Sivak, Vision of Space and NASA in 2050 and 2100.
Fred Sloop, Challenges to Man's Existence Beyond the Earth: Gravity Concerns in Long Duration Human Spaceflight.
A-for-Aero/Astro: Systems Engineering, Software, and Occupancy Considerations for Safety, Reliability, Resilience and Failure Obviation for Interstellar Space Missions, led by Donna Dulo (Naval Postgraduate School & Icarus) and Michel Lamontagne (Icarus).
B-for-Bio: Evolution's Pace in Very Small Ecosystems like the Worldship, to be led by Cassidy Cobbs (Vanderbilt, TN, USA), Robert "Speaker to Lab Animals" Hampson (Wake Forest, NC, USA), and Chris Welch (Int'l Space Univ, Strasbourg, France).
C-for-Commo: Language as Reality: A Near-Term Roadmap for Exploiting Opportunities and Natural Experiments Here on Terra Firma to Inform *C*ETI, to be led by Robert "Sam" Lightfoot (So. Georgia College, USA) and H. Paul Shuch (SETI League).
D-for-Design: Near-term and far-term concepts for traveling at interstellar ranges, to be led by Andreas Hein and Rob Swinney of I4IS.
Online application to attend TVIW 2014 is
Click here to to read more about Call for Papers, Workshop and Participation.
Note: No refunds. However, your registration may be transferred or sold to another approved attendee. So if something comes up that prevents you from coming, consider helping a deserving someone you know who is coming with a scholarship.
It is official! TVIW is now recognized as 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).
In this issue, you will read about updates on the TVIW 2014 conference, our new website and bookmark, a report from the road by Les Johnson on his visit to JPL, and a technical note by Jim Woosley. [Click here to read it].
We are very pleased to announce the following featured attendees to TVIW 2014: Dr. Robert Hampson, Dr. Mae Jemison, John C. Mankins, and Dr. Sara Seager. You can find out more about them on our TVIW 2014 Featured Attendees page. Check back soon as we have more names to announce in the upcoming month.
Attendance at our Sunday seminars will count for three professional development hours (PDH) each, for a total of six PDHs if you attend both. In addition, at least two of the workshop tracks (3 blocks of 2 hours each, for a total of 6 hours contact time, or 6 PDHs) will contain a strong element of safety and reliability, with a design exercise. Thus attending the seminars and workshop tracks together could fulfill your annual continuing education requirement in most states. Click here to find out more about it.
The Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop is a not-for-profit scientific-education corporation in the state of Tennessee. It was conceived by Les Johnson, Greg Matloff, and Robert Kennedy, on a sunny Wednesday morning, July 13, 2011, on the patio of a charming little hotel (which no longer exists, regrettably) in the ancient city of Aosta in the Italian Alps, at the conclusion of the IAA's 7th Biennial Symposium on Realistic Near-Term Scientific Space Missions. As Les eloquently put it:
"The Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop is an opportunity for relaxed sharing of ideas in directions that will stimulate and encourage Interstellar exploration including propulsion, communications, and research. The 'Workshop' theme suggests that the direction should go beyond that of a 'conference'. Attendees are encouraged to not only present intellectual concepts but to develop these concepts to suggest projects, collaboration, active research and mission planning. It should be a time for engaging discussions, thought-provoking ideas, and boundless optimism contemplating a future that may one day be within the reach of humanity."
Though the TVIW concept was explicitly intended to be regional (viz., the American Southeast), it in fact acquired an international flair from the beginning, with the immediate participation of Dr. Claudio Maccone of Italy (sitting at the same table with the founders in Aosta in fact) as well as the invited all-expenses-paid presentation of one of our geoengineering papers to their national weather service and Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow in November 2011 just three weeks before the workshop itself. Since then, international participation has grown, for example the full involvement and support of the prestigious British Interplanetary Society, as well as the Initiative for Interstellar Studies and Icarus Interstellar. This is all to the good, but its heart is still in the Tennessee Valley.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ TNValleyInterstellarWorkshop
Twitter: @TVIWUS #TVIW