New Worlds 2017

New Worlds 2017

Last year saw the launch of the New Worlds Institute and it’s inaugural conference here in Austin. I went and (despite the fact that I am decidedly not a scientist) had a phenomenal time. Why wouldn’t I? Going to space is The Dream of My Life.

This year’s conference was even better. There were two full days where people of all ages and backgrounds came together to discuss every aspect of space travel, exploration and settlement in real, concrete terms.

Day one of the conference was dedicated to the next generation of space explorers. Kids from all over Texas competed in the Cities in Space Competition, which required them to fully plan for a space colony on either Mars or the moon. It was thrilling to see so many kids excited about space exploration. They created dioramas, did research papers and presented their plans to judges. The work and care that went into their projects was evident. [Here’s some photos!] I spent a long time examining each entry and listening to the kids explain their vision. I wondered where this community was when I was a kid.

A host of outstanding speakers spoke to the kids throughout the day (including the fabulous Artemis Westenberg of ExploreMars.org who flew in from Denmark for the occasion), offering them encouragement and support in their current education and in their dreams of the future.

Day two of the conference included speakers on everything from hard science to the humanities as they relate to space travel and exploration. Dr. Bernard Foing from the European Space Agency led a paper session on space habitats; Dr. Sara Langston spoke about building governance frameworks in space where multicultural ideals and international laws intersect; Dr. Philip Metzger led a paper session about interstellar agriculture; and Dr. Michael Waltermathe discussed the challenges of practicing various religions in space. There was also a truly informative, and pretty hilarious discussion about sex in space led by Dr. James Logan.

The reason why the New Worlds community is so important is that it takes into consideration every aspect of our humanity as we look to a future in space. The New Worlds founder, Rick Tumlinson (founder of Deep Space Industries), is a visionary who seems to enjoy people as much as he does science. That comes through in every aspect of the conference, which embraces a whole spectrum of space geeks, scientists, artists, educators, lawyers, believers, dreamers and outright lunatics who are obsessed with going to space. This is a place where no one makes you feel weird for your space lust, and every contribution to the cause is welcome.

The second day of the conference ended with Space Cowboy Gala – which was a costumed dance party. Everyone wore every manner of crazy attire – some inspired by Firefly, some futuristic. We ate and drank and danced and celebrated our dream to some sick beats.

I can’t wait until next year’s conference.