DSTART is a multidisciplinary team of engineers, scientists, designers, and artists developing next-generation concepts for interstellar exploration. The initiative was founded in 2016 at TU Delft by artist and scientist Angelo Vermeulen. DSTART aims to critically explore ideologies underpinning space exploration paradigms and offers alternative concepts. DSTART is one of the projects housed under the umbrella of SEAD (Space Ecologies Art and Design). This collective is responsible for internationally acclaimed art-science projects such as Seeker and Biomodd.
For TEC ART, DSTART shows an immersive installation which gives the visitor a unique view into the E|A|S (Evolving Asteroid Starship) research project. E|A|S uses a bio-inspired approach to design manned starships capable of traveling for multiple decades through vast areas of deep space. In contrast with solar system exploration, interstellar exploration is characterised by a much higher degree of uncertainty. A starship is continuously charting previously unknown interstellar territory, may encounter all kinds of unforeseen challenges, and cannot rely on Earth for solving its problems. Therefore, the starship needs to be capable of autonomously adjusting itself to new conditions.
Using biology as an inspiration, E|A|S suggests creating starships that grow and evolve during their journey. Technically this could be achieved by combining asteroid mining and 3D manufacturing. The DSTART team has been developing a hybrid computer simulation to test this idea. A starship progressively mines an asteroid to which it is connected. The extracted materials are used to expand the ship’s architecture using 3D manufacturing. On the inside, the asteroid starship holds a gradually expanding ecosystem (based on the MELiSSA biological life support system of ESA). The ship’s architectural evolution is driven both by the population dynamics of this ecosystem and the shifting challenges posed by the interstellar medium.
The installation at TEC ART contains contributions of different team members of DSTART. A cluster computer built with open source hardware is running E|A|S simulations in real-time. At the other side, an interactive VR system enables the public to experience different design concepts and instigates critical conversations around the project.
Concept and project management: Angelo Vermeulen
Computer cluster and programming: Andreas Theys
3D development and VR: Nils Faber