How will we bring humanity out of the solar system and towards the stars? It's going to take a huge leap forward in terms of how we explore space. Long before the 100 Year Starship Project and Icarus Interstellar, there was the Integrated Space Plan (ISP) showing the path to moon, Mars and beyond. First conceived by Ron Jones in the late 1980s, it's just been revamped for 2015 on the back of a successful Kickstarter project.
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The 2015 version is sleeker and has some changes from the first four editions, produced from 1989 (viewable here) and the last in 1997 (viewable here). One of the biggest challenges, Jones told Discovery News, was translating the complicated diagrams of the older versions into something more easily digestable by the public. But now that it's ready he's looking for visionary contributors to give their ideas about how to move humanity further into space.
"We are encouraging those interested from around the planet to visit our web site and give us their feedback and ideas about human expansion into space. We're just trying to create the vision the world can look at and contribute its two cents' worth," said Jones, whose peripatetic career with companies such as Martin Marietta, Rockwell, Boeing and even Buzz Aldrin's ShareSpace Foundation has seen him working on Congressional advisory committees, space shuttle development, air traffic management and more.
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"One of the big challenges since the moon landing has been where do we go next: Mars, back to the moon, visit an asteroid? Do we develop a long term infrastructure on the moon? Use the moon as a stepping stone to get to Mars? Go directly to Mars? NASA can't make up its mind, and we've been caught in low earth orbit in the space station now for many, many years."