Some examples of such technologies are described on Wikipedia's Non-Rocket Spacelaunch page. But, to clarify a bit further...

I found list of such technologies in Figure 2.1 of a document entitled NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities Revisited (2016). Some highlights (ordered here from lowest to highest scoring):

  • 1.5.5. Nuclear (Launch Engines)

  • 1.5.3. Space Tether Assist (for launch)

  • 1.5.4. Beamed Energy / Energy Addition

  • 1.3.5. Ramjet/Scramjet Engines (Accelerators)

  • 1.2.4. Detonation Wave Engines (Closed Cycle)

  • 1.3.3. Detonation Wave Engines (Open Cycle)

  • 1.5.2. Air Launch / Drop Systems

  • 1.5.1. Ground Launch Assist

  • 1.3.7. Air Collection and Enrichment System

  • 1.3.6. Deeply Cooled Air Cycles

  • 1.3.8. Fundamental Air Breathing Propulsion Technologies

Of Interest - Technologies That:

  • Are aiming for at least a factor of 10 reduction in launch costs for a relevant high-volume mission class (such as maintaining a supply chain to a large space station, or setting up a base on The Moon or Mars), and
  • Are equal to or better than chemical rockets on safety and environmental impact.

Not of Interest:

  • Sessions covering various incremental improvements to chemical-rocket-based launch systems.
  • Sessions covering ideas that do not pencil out without assuming that, in the future, at least one major breakthrough occurs in, for example, materials science and engineering.

Future conferences are most interesting, but past conferences are of interest too if some information is available about them online.

Details such as...

  • typical abstract submission deadline,
  • typical conference dates,
  • registration cost,
  • early bird deadline,
  • location,
  • and periodicity

... are also of interest.

  • $\begingroup$ Something like the AIAA SciTech Forum (aiaa.org/scitech) ? $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Dec 14, 2023 at 15:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Can you provide this info as an answer? Then people can comment and vote on it, which will give more information to other people on how relevant this conference is to the question. $\endgroup$
    – phil1008
    Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 0:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Kinda hurts to see nuclear engines scored so low, but it makes sense. $\endgroup$
    – ikrase
    Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 10:00

1 Answer 1


I'm excited to say I can answer this one! I am a member of the National Space Society. They have some great conferences coming up this year.

The first is the International Space Development Conference (ISDC) in Los Angeles near LAX starting on the 24th of May. I know this is soon but they have multiple sessions that discuss non-chemical rocket propulsion technologies. Looking at their website, https://isdc.nss.org, I see a bunch of sessions that can discuss these alternatives to rocket-based launch: Space Elevators, Space Settlement, Science Fiction to Fact, and Interplanetary Infrastructure.

On the space elevator front, I do know that the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) usually sponsors and leads discussions on this technology at ISDC.


  • Location: Los Angeles (in 2024)
  • Dates: May 23rd to 26th, 2024
  • Early Registration Rate: $360

You also asked about past conferences, and I found this page on the ISDC website: https://isdc.nss.org/past-conferences/ They have had over 40 years of conferences!

Next, I know the NSS will host the Space Settlement Summit (SSS) at the end of the year, usually in the latter half. Unfortunately, I don't see anything on their website for this year's SSS yet, but I know they are working on it currently. I believe they will be hosting it in Florida at Cape Canaveral this year. I will post the info here as soon as the NSS comes out with the details.

Lastly, I found some other conferences that may help you:

  • 20th International Symposium on Electromagnetic Launch Technology (EML 2024)
  • The Euro-Asian Pulsed Power Conference (EAPPC 2024)
  • The 25th International Conference on High-Power Particle Beams (BEAMS 2024)

Interesting random fact: The 8th Electromagnetic Launch Technology Symposium (EML) took place on 24-28 October 2016 in Wuhan, China.

I tried to look into companies like Spinlaunch that are participating/hosting conferences but came up with nothing.

Anyway, I hope this helps.


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