Project Icarus Consultant
Paul Gilster is a full-time writer who focuses on space technology and its implications. He is one of the founders of the Tau Zero Foundation and now serves as its lead journalist. Created by Marc Millis, this organization grew out of work begun in NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics program, and now seeks philanthropic funding to support research into advanced propulsion concepts for deep space missions. Gilster is the author of seven books, including Digital Literacy (John Wiley & Sons, 1997) and Centauri Dreams: Imagining and Planning for Interstellar Flight (Copernicus, 2004), a study of the technologies that may one day make it possible to send a probe to the nearest star. He tracks developments in interstellar research from propulsion to exoplanet studies on his Centauri Dreams Web site. In past years, he has contributed to numerous technology and business magazines, and has published essays, feature stories, reviews and fiction in a wide range of publications both in and out of the space and technology arena. Forthe last twenty-one years, he has written the weekly “Computer Focus” column, which appears in The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC). A graduate of Grinnell College (IA), Gilster put in six years of graduate work at UNC-Chapel Hill, specializing in medieval English literature, before going into commercial aviation and, eventually, writing.
“The original Project Daedalus produced the first comprehensive study of starship design, a remarkable document exploring the technologies needed to reach Barnard’s Star within the lifetime of a researcher. The spirit of investigation that drove the Daedalus planners was applied to tools that are now much more advanced than when the study began. Project Icarus wisely looks to extend the Daedalus project by beginning with many of the same assumptions and determining what has changed in the intervening decades, so that we get an up-to-date view of the enabling technologies. Just as Daedalus was never intended as a practical mission but rather an exercise in mission and systems definition, so Icarus will extend these definitions and help us see connections between the many different technologies that can be applied for such an epic journey. I strongly endorse the adventurous plans of the Project Icarus team and believe that the work that results will be a solid contribution to interstellar studies, one thatmoves the long-term goal of practical interstellar flight forward. Studies like these tell us much about our own capabilities, but also outline for us a rational and hopeful way to proceed toward staggeringly difficult but achievable goals.“ – Paul Gilster