On the Organisation of World Ships and Other Gigascale Interstellar Space Exploration Projects


F. Ceyssens; M. Driesen; K. Wouters (2012), JBIS65, 134-139

Refcode: 2012.65.134
Keywords: Interstellar exploration, financing, World ships, Daedalus, Icarus, interstellar colonization

The development and deployment of world ships or other feats of interstellar exploration will without doubt require orders of magnitude more resources than needed for current or past megaprojects (Apollo, Iter, LHC,…). Question is how enough resources for such gigaprojects can be found in a scenario assuming limited, moderate economic growth throughout the next centuries, i.e. without human population and productivity continuing to grow exponentially, and without extreme events such as economic collapse or singularity.

Three defining features of gigascale space projects are identified, which should be recognized to the fullest: their almost absolute nonprofit character, their massive cost in terms of time and resources and their non-urgency leading to procrastination. It will be argued that the best chance of getting a world ship or another interstellar project started in this generation is to establish an international network of non governmental organizations (NGOs) focused on private and public fundraising for interstellar exploration and supporting a bottom-up societal movement, similar to e.g. the WWF. It will be shown that this path can reduce the massive barriers to entry as well as the level of governmental support needed.