Paper presented at the 100 Year Starship Symposium in Houston, September 2013.
Voyager 1 has barely left the solar system. Twelve people have walked on the Moon. Twenty-four got to lunar orbit, 530 to Earth orbit. Our Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity may be roving on Mars but we are far from being a solar civilization. Worse, seven billion of us on Earth are struggling to coalesce into a single planetary civilization. So is thinking seriously about how to become an interstellar civilization preposterously premature?
We make a case that jumpstarting an interstellar civilization could not be timelier: it is one of our best insurance policies against existential risk and a fast track out of the current sub-planetary civilization quagmire. We then proceed to look at what it would take to initiate an interstellar jump sequence in practice. We offer a qualitative assessment of cultural, technological, and governance transitions we would need to orchestrate, and explore how the interstellar community itself would need to evolve to accelerate these transitions.
Our proposals include launching an Interstellar Art Academy to inject a steady stream of interstellar edutainment into global culture; participating in the world’s global public policy and entrepreneurial fora to put interstellar and space development goals on the global agenda; facilitating a roadmapping process among major terrestrial industries to move space commercialization into space industrialization; designing an online game to simulate governance models to underpin interstellar expansion and, finally, turning the interstellar community of thousands into an epic volunteer organization of one million.