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Talk by Les Johnson

With known exoplanets now numbering in the thousands and initiatives like 100 Year Starship and Breakthrough Starshot advancing the idea of interstellar travel, the age-old dream of venturing forth into the cosmos and perhaps even colonizing distant worlds may one day become a reality. Physicist, author, and NASA technologist Les Johnson will describe the physics and technologies that may enable us to reach the stars. He will discuss the latest exoplanet discoveries, promising interstellar precursor missions on the not-so-distant horizon, and exciting new developments in space propulsion, power, robotics, communications, and more. Johnson will take us on a journey through the harsh and forbidding expanse of space that awaits us as he addresses the daunting challenges—both human and technological—that we will need to overcome in order to realize tomorrow’s possibilities. Nature is telling us that traveling to the stars will be difficult, but not not impossible, and certanly not for the faint of heart.

Les Johnson is a futurist, author, and NASA technologist. He is a founding member of the Interstellar Research Group, a member of the International Academy of Astronautics, a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society, a member of the National Space Society, and was accepted into MENSA. Les has written several science fiction novels and multiple popular science, non-fiction books about space and space exploration including his recently published A Traveler’s Guide to the Stars from Princeton University Press. In his day job, Les works at the NASA George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama where he develops advanced in-space propulsion systems and other advanced space technologies. During his career at NASA, Les served as the Manager for the Space Science Programs and Projects Office, the In-Space Propulsion Technology Project, and the Interstellar Propulsion Research Project.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Robert Hurt