Seminars Offered at the 6th Interstellar Symposium
and Advanced Interstellar Propulsion Workshop

Wichita Kansas, Sunday, November 10, 2019

In collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop (TVIW) is holding its 6th Interstellar Symposium and Interstellar Propulsion Workshop from Sunday, November 10 through Friday, November 15, 2019, in Wichita, Kansas. This event is hosted by Wichita State University (WSU) and Ad Astra Kansas Foundation.

As part of this event, four seminars will be offered on Sunday, November 10, with morning and afternoon sessions. The first two will start at 9:00 am and the other two will start at 1:00 pm. The TVIW reception and social hour will be held that evening.

Seminars are 3-hour presentations on a single subject, presented by an individual(s) familiar with the topic and providing an in depth look at that subject. Seminars are not included in the TVIW Symposium costs and do not require Symposium membership to attend. Each Seminar usually costs $100 per person.

Note for Registered Professional Engineers, Seminar attendance at each of these seminars counts for three professional development hours (PDH), or a total of six PDHs if you attend two. On request at the seminar, we will provide you with a certificate verifying your attendance. Keep this certificate for your records.

At present, we have the following seminars available. You may sign up for both a morning and afternoon session by contacting, or when you register for the Symposium, or you can add it later by editing your registration. If the event is not full, it will be possible to signup for a seminar at the door.

Morning Session 9:00 AM to 12:00 Noon

Life in Space, People of the Stars

Homo Stellaris. What will it take to become “People of the Stars?” The 2016 TVIW Symposium explored the concept of the adaptations that humans would require in order to support interstellar exploration and colonization. More than just biological, there are social and political adaptations required as well. Good Science Fiction addresses a few of the problems, such as the body’s adaptations to zero-G or microgravity, but there are so many issues that a body evolved in a constant 1-G field, with plentiful air and water will have adapting to space, that no one story can address them all. So we guess, we theorize and we invoke wishful thinking that all of the problems will somehow be solved by the time we get there.

This seminar will examine many of the real medical and physiological problems encountered by the few humans who have spent more than a handful of days in space, and extend that exploration with discussions of the bigger picture of building the will and the means of getting humans off of Earth: From tech billionaires to the dreamers of modern SF.

During this seminar Dr. Hampson will lead seminar participants in a discussion of the real problems facing humans as we move out into space and potentially other planets.


Robert E. Hampson, Ph.D. is THE (brain) scientist behind the science fiction for more than a dozen writers. He has assisted in the (fictional) creation of future medicine, brain computer interfaces, unusual diseases, alien intelligence, novel brain diseases (and the medical nanites to cure them), exotic toxins, and brain effects of a zombie virus. With over a dozen short stories published and in process, his fiction ranges from the Four Horsemen Universe-4HU (Chris Kennedy Publ.), to Baen’s Black Tide Rising universe to the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Mad Science Writing contest (U.S. Army Small Wars Journal). He has just released the novel Do No Harm in the Four Horsemen Universe and is co-editor with Les Johnson of the mixed science and fiction anthology STELLARIS: People of the Stars (Baen).

Dr. Hampson is a Professor of Physiology/Pharmacology and Neurology with over 35 years’ experience in animal and human neuroscience. His professional work includes more than 100 peer-reviewed research articles ranging from the pharmacology of memory to the effects of radiation on the brain, and is leading a multi-institutional clinical research effort to develop a “neural prosthetic” to restore human memory. With more than two million words in scientific writing alone, communicating science to professionals and lay audiences is his greatest interest. He is known to many by his former pen-name “Tedd Roberts” or his internet handle “Speaker to Lab Animals,” having given public talks on science, science fiction (and the science in science fiction) to professors, students and civic groups, government agencies as well as SF/F conventions.

Preparing for First Contact: Protocols and Implications
A Seminar/Working Group

Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” Sir Author C. Clark.

First contact scenarios are fairly common in Science Fiction. But, what would we do, what should we do, if we actually encountered intelligent, perhaps very advanced, aliens in real life?

On the scale of the universe, or even our galaxy, our physical “encounter cross section” is very small, but it is increasing as we begin to send probes and eventually humans throughout the solar system and beyond. Also, our technological ability to detect alien signals and other artifacts is booming. Thus, though our chances of an encounter are very small, they are not zero and indeed are increasing. In the world of risk management, potential events are commonly rated in terms of probability and impact. In these terms an alien encounter is not very probable but the impact could be beyond measure and therefore must be taken seriously. In that vein, it is worth the relatively small effort to plan ahead on how to handle an encounter rather than be forced to “wing it” when the potential downside risk of a miscalculation extends to human extinction.

In this seminar/workshop we will start with overview talks from a very diverse set of perspectives. We will discuss actual first contact protocols that seem to be in place today. We will then summarize first principles proposed so far – these are broad and basic, similar to the Hippocratic oath of “First do no harm”. We will also provide a diverse/cautionary perspective on first contact risks. We will wrap up the introductory talks with a reconnaissance of the rich exploration of first contact scenarios in science fiction. Then, an interactive session will enable attendees to express their ideas, insights, concerns, and hopes associated with first contact. Finally, this seminar/workshop has the potential to develop into a long-term working group to explore the topic in much greater detail and then synthesize the results into a coherent written report to be presented at the 7th TVIW Interstellar Symposium. Attendees will be asked in they wish to participate in such a long term effort.

Note: The charge for this seminar is $50 per person and no CEUs will be offered.


Lead: Ken Wisian, Ph.D., Major General (retired), Executive Director, Disaster Research Program, Center for Space Research, The University of Texas at Austin. Ken is a geophysicist, former senior government executive and retired USAF and Air National Guard officer. He is a graduate of the US Air Force Test Pilot School, and has combat time in multiple wars.

Ken Roy, P.E., is an engineer who lives and works amid the relics of the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge. He has published technology speculation pieces in such venues as the Journal for the British Planetary Society, and the United States Naval Institute Proceedings. His current interests include the history of human conflict, terraforming, and geoengineering.

John Traphagan, Ph.D., Professor and Mitsubishi Fellow, Department of Religious Studies, The University of Texas at Austin. John’s current research interests center on two areas: (1) the relationship between culture, religion, and science and (2) social construction and concepts of ruralities in Japan. He teaches courses on religion in Japan, Japanese culture and society, astrobiology, and medical anthropology.  

Afternoon Session 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM

In-Space Manufacturing: The Gateway to the High Frontier
and an Enabling Technology for Human Space Exploration

In-space manufacturing (ISM) promises to revolutionize space systems engineering by reducing cost, improving performance, and enabling entirely new capabilities as a result of relaxing launch-related design constraints. ISM has potential benefits ranging from fabrication of extremely large space structures, on-demand spare parts production to reduce logistics demand for long-duration crewed missions, and utilization of planetary resources for fabrication of components in deep space. A review of the history of ISM serves to highlight the broad range of components sought to be produced by ISM and the variety of manufacturing processes used to produce them, as well as the achieved success, or shortcomings, of historical ISM efforts. The current state of ongoing ISM activities is then presented, with emphasis on activities led by the Marshall Space Flight Center, which include in-house efforts as well as public-private partnerships through Small Business Innovation Research (SBIRs), Tipping Point Solicitations, and the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnership – 2 (NextSTEP-2) program. Current research in academia and industry regarding the development of ISM technologies will also be discussed. In so doing, the application areas used to describe the trade space of potential ISM concepts will be presented, as well as the range of manufacturing processes potentially suitable for ISM considering the unique space environment’s impact on typical manufacturing processes. Lastly, an interactive session will enable attendees to express their ideas, insights, and potential use cases for ISM. This session will evolve into a road mapping effort whereby attendees chart out the capabilities needed for ISM systems relevant to the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop community.


Tracie Prater is an aerospace engineer in the Materials and Processes Laboratory at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, where she is currently supports technical integration activities for the in-space manufacturing (ISM) project. Using the International Space Station as a testbed, ISM is responsible for developing the manufacturing capabilities needed to produce parts on demand during long duration, crewed space exploration missions. She also serves as a subject matter expert for NASA’s Centennial Challenge on 3D Printing of Habitats, a public competition for additive manufacturing of structural habitats using recyclable materials and in situ resources ( She has a PhD in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt University.

Matthew T. Moraguez is a member of the MIT Strategic Engineering Research Group (MIT Strategic Engineering Research Group), and a Ph.D. Candidate in Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT. Matt has a M.S. inAeronautics and Astronautics from MIT (2018) and aB.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Florida (2016).

Space Law: An Overview, Past, Present, and Future

This course will cover the U.S. domestic regulatory environment, reviewing the legal authority and regulatory requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration over space transportation, satellite communications, and remote sensing from space.  The course will also review three trending issues in space law that arise out of the Outer Space Treaty and that may affect interstellar operations:  property rights, the regulation of new activities, and “planetary protection.” An interactive session at the end of the seminar will allow for an opportunity to comment and ask questions.


Laura Montgomery teaches space law at Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law. In her private practice she specializes in regulatory space law, with an emphasis on commercial space transportation and the Outer Space Treaties.

In 2017, she testified to the Space Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Space Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness on matters of regulation and international obligation. She has published articles on the Outer Space Treaty, human space flight, and launch safety, and writes and edits the space law blog

Ms. Montgomery spent over two decades with the Federal Aviation Administration supporting the FAA in its authorization and regulation of launch, reentry, and the operation of launch and reentry sites. She received her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and her undergraduate degree with honors from the University of Virginia. She also writes science fiction, which ranges from space opera to bourgeois, legal science fiction. Her author site is at