For Clarkson University Professor Pier Marzocca and a group of like-minded colleagues across the nation, space isn't the "final" frontier, it's the inevitable one. Toward that goal, they've co-written a pragmatic plan to help transform an attainable dream into reality.
The eight authors — scientists, engineers, economists and others — collaborated on an electronic book, "How To Develop The Solar System and Beyond: A Roadmap to Interstellar Space." Released last month on Amazon, the book outlines likely scenarios for mankind's future beyond living on Earth.
"Our main interest is inspiring the younger generation because they're the ones who will have the opportunity to do this," says Marzocca, who teaches mechanical and aeronautical engineering at Clarkson. "We already know it is possible for man to travel to space. Now it's an important time to push ourselves to our limits, and find ways to develop new technologies, so that we can explore and eventually colonize space."
The Roadmap has been welcomed by readers, and on Oct. 22 it was listed No. 1 in the Amazon list of new releases in astrophysics and space science best-sellers.
The book came about when the authors discovered one another and realized they envisioned a similar future of exploring space. They put together a group they call Star Voyager.
"From four people we then became a group of about 20 and we're still growing. Our consortium includes individuals of very different backgrounds, so we learn from what they say and contribute," Marzocca adds.
Star Voyager is a sponsored initiative of the Leeward Space Foundation, a non-profit organization registered in Georgia. In addition, Marzocca is a member of the board of directors of the International Space Development Hub (ISDHub), an organization aiming at channeling innovations and investments into space exploration globally.
Background information about the e-book notes that the Star Voyager Roadmap "had its genesis in the enthusiasm created last January by the 100 Year Star Ship interstellar joint initiative of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and NASA, aimed at working with private entities toward achieving interstellar space travel within the next century."
Cuts in NASA's budget mean that space travel will likely become a commercial venture. It's an exciting moment, Marzocca notes, to see a lot of interest in harvesting space resources.
"From a technological point of view, we're not mature yet for manned interstellar travel. We need new breakthroughs in propulsion. This may be only a few years' leap, but the main constraint for travel is economic," he says. "The Roadmap is about discussing a sensitive way of moving forward, how to make a sustainable endeavor to get to those technologies."
For Marzocca and his colleagues, the desire to explore space and eventually establish a new home in space is about much more than "gee whiz" technology.
"This endeavor will have to embrace all nations. We'll need to collectively use our resources for a very peaceful opportunity," he emphasizes. "We may evolve into something even better than we are today."
In addition to Marzocca, the book's authors are Dirk Schulze-Makuch, Washington State University astrobiologist; Amalie Sinclair, humanist, space policy advocate and director of Leeward Space Foundation; Charles Radley, spacecraft systems engineer and associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Armen Papazian, financial economist; Joseph Miller, astrobiologist, neuropharmacologist, and associate professor at the University of Southern California; John Lee, executive director at Leeward Space Foundation and chairman of the Board of the International Space Development HUB (ISDHub); and Giorgio Gaviraghi architect and CEO of exponential Design Lab.