I just got an email from NASA touting their upcoming Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Symposium, an open conference that will take place at Stanford University next week. It came with the image you can see above, by Iron Rooster Studios' Peter Rubin, something that makes me very happy.
Because, even while these illustrations are in the realm of science fiction at this points, it's great to see that NASA still has grandiose visions for the (far) future for space exploration:
NIAC supports early studies of visionary concepts, which may one day enable new missions or transformative advances in future aerospace capabilities.
During the symposium NIAC fellows will present and discuss the progress of all current studies. Keynote speakers will include Jamie Hyneman, host of the television show "Mythbusters"; Peter Norvig, director of research at Google Inc.; and Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute. Other speakers include Charbel Farhat, chairman of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University in California; Pete Worden, director of NASA's Ames Research Center; and Gary Hudson, president of the Space Studies Institute in Mojave, Calif. The event also will include a Stanford student poster session.
NIAC is part of NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use in NASA's future missions. NIAC awardees come from academia, the private sector and government research labs.
You will be able to watch the conference here starting next week.