Collaboration May Be Our First Step Toward the Stars.

posted by Jessica Riley on March 18, 2014


 Interstellar-Johnson-715.jpg__600x0_q85_upscaleLast week Icarus Interstellar announced that Les Johnson is stepping into a new position at Icarus as Chief Solar Sail Consultant. This new role presents opportunities for more communication and collaboration between Icarus, NASA, and the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop, which Les is the Chair of.

Les brings with him a wealth of experience from his work as Deputy Manager in the Advanced Concepts Office at NASA wherein he leads a team of thirty engineers in the development of concepts for subsystems, spacecraft systems, payloads, missions and overall transportation system architectures.  He is widely known as an expert in advanced space propulsion with focused expertise in solar sails and electrodynamic tethers. Les is also an author, and has been featured as a speaker and technical consultant for many different scientific and media events.

The Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop is described as an opportunity for relaxed sharing of ideas in directions that will stimulate and encourage interstellar exploration including propulsion, communications, and research. Attendees are encouraged to not only present intellectual concepts but to develop these concepts to suggest projects, collaboration, active research and mission planning. Icarus Interstellar has presented at the conference for three years and Les was invited to speak about solar sail research at the Starship Congress in 2013.


Groups like Icarus and events like the TVIW represent a vanguard philosophy in the space science community.  In tech, we have seen a major shift in the last five years to a more collaborative approach to problem solving. Internet development has given rise to a generation of young people who expect information to be available all the time and for free for the most part.  For the first time in history we have the ability to host collaborations of large groups of individuals over a distance. We don’t have to be in the same room to work together anymore.  The best minds can contribute to a project at any point in the development of it. When asked about Les’ role within Icarus, Richard Obousy comments: “His new position in Icarus… helps connect him with our group as a whole and encourages dialogue between both organizations. Les is a reservoir of knowledge in the field of solar sails, and it’s invaluable that our team has access to that kind of first hand experience, so we’re thrilled to have him join us.

This approach to tough problems is more solutions oriented than the competitive scientific and academic atmospheres of the past. The work doesn’t just serve to benefit an individual’s career, or an organization, or even a single government anymore. It has the ability to benefit all of humankind, instantly. Progress and results are shared widely giving anyone with interest the opportunity to chime in with a novel solution.

 The challenges presented in developing interstellar travel technology are immense and may require a similar ideological shift to happen rapidly in the space sciences. Truly understanding the magnitude of what we are collectively working toward and implementing that understanding through openness and collaboration will be key in reaching the goal of interstellar flight before 2100. Les Johnson understands this.  He says in his blog, “The future can be better than today, and it is up to us to make that happen.   Now is not the time to diminish our expectations.  Rather, now is the time to dream big, tackle BIG and ambitious new projects, and make tomorrow better than today.


You can learn more about Les from his website.

Check out the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop.

Or catch him at the upcoming ConGlomeration convention in Lousiville Kentucky April 11th – 13th

Les gave a talk at TEDxHunstsville. “Thinking BIG to Reach the Stars.

Les was featured in this article, “The New Age of Exploration” in National Geographic January 2014 edition. (Regarding the resurgence of interest and excitement in space travel and referring to the old Apollo era, Les says: “In the conversation of certain dreamer-nerds, especially outside NASA, you can now hear echoes of the old aspiration and adventurousness—of the old craziness for space.”) 




Be Informed. Stay Connected.

Les Johnson @LesAuthor

Icarus Interstellar @icarusinterstel

Icarus Interstellar is a nonprofit scientific research and development organization. We are always accepting donations and creative ideas to raise funds to contribute to the goal of realizing interstellar flight before the year 2100.  Any contribution helps and is greatly appreciated.

Be Sociable, Share!

4 Responses to Collaboration May Be Our First Step Toward the Stars.

  1. E.Laureti says:

    Asps will make experimental demonstrations about the violation of the principle of action and reaction to replace the rocket propulsion.
    We encouraged to bring your instruments to verify experimentally such violation.
    To attend the tests of Non-Newtonian Propulsion details coming soon in our urls

    • Hi E, although it may be due to translation difficulties, I understand the point is made on the web site referenced that electromagnetics do not obey Newtonian laws of motion. I think it is legitimate to point out that electric motors are a well known application of electromagnetics and that they are widely understood to operate according to netonian physics. The video showing a black box oscillating is less than convincing, since as far as I can see it’s demonstrating the laws of motion perfectly well, conservation of momentum, etc. Now, if instead of oscillating (and therefore maintaining a net quantity of movement of 0) it lifted up and stayed at an angle, THAT would be interesting….

      • E.Laureti says:

        Non newtonian propulsion is based on action reaction violation. We can do this violation at now in several different methods and show the violation on ballistic pendulum and on scales. But what is most surprising is the different law of motion that the violation produces.
        I.e. another type of inertia that make possible fast interstellar travels.

      • Sergio says:

        Hi Michael,
        you can find more information about Non Newtonian Propulsion here:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *