Comic-Con 2017: A Space Fan's Guide

Comic-Con International 2016
"Star Trek" cosplayers at Comic-Con International 2016. There's plenty of content at Comic-Con for space lovers. (Image credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

It's that time of year again! Comic-Con International starts tomorrow (July 20) in San Diego and will feature lots of enticing events for space fans. 

Although Comic-Con began as an event focused mostly on comic books, it has evolved to include all things remotely nerdy (and a few things that aren't). These days, the event is packed with space-related science fiction, and even some science fact. Below, you'll find a list of panel discussions and events that we think space fans will enjoy. 

I will attend this year's Comic-Con for From the event, I'll report on some of the cosmic goings-on, including the panel discussion hosted by NASA this Sunday (July 23) and a panel about the upcoming TV show "Star Trek: Discovery" on Saturday (July 22). You can find even more Comic-Con coverage on our sister site Newsarama, a go-to source for comic book news, reviews and "all-things genre entertainment."

The information below comes from the Comic-Con agenda website. 

Thursday, July 20

The State of "Iron Man" Tech. Could the incredible technologies invented by billionaire supergenius Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) ever exist in the real world? A group of panelists will discuss the possibilities. The panelists include Richard Browning, founder of, who will talk about his jet-engine-powered suit; Chris Gerty, an informatics subsystem team lead at NASA's Johnson Space Center; Adam Draper, founder and managing director of Boost VC; and Zoë Bell, a stuntwoman and actress known for her work in the "Kill Bill" series and "Death Proof."

BritBox's Classic "Doctor Who" Panel with Lost Episode Preview and Q&A. Peter Davison (the Fifth Doctor), Colin Baker (the Sixth Doctor) and Sophie Aldred (Ace) "look back on the original run of the world's longest-running sci-fi television show" in this panel. The session will also feature a look at the "newly reconstructed lost episode of the Second Doctor story 'The Wheel in Space,' coming soon exclusively to BritBox," according to the session description. 

Hollyweird Science: Information Versus Motivation. Real-world scientists and astronauts have cited "Star Trek" and "2001: A Space Odyssey" as the inspiration for their choice of career, which raises the question: Should movies and TV shows aim for scientific accuracy, or scientific inspiration? In this panel, scientists and Hollywood professionals share their thoughts. 

Dark Matter: Season 3. Cast members of Syfy's space adventure show, along with one of the show's executive producers, will discuss the third season. 

"Star Trek": The Next 50 Years. Join a group of panelists as they look back at 50 years of the "Star Trek" universe and speculate on where the franchise will go in the future. Topics will include "the latest news from the set of 'Star Trek: Discovery,' the future of the movie franchise and why we need Trek today more than ever." ["Star Trek: Discovery" in Pictures]

Friday, July 21

Design and Technology for Film and Television. Panelists Neville Page ("Star Trek: Discovery") and Glenn Hetrick ("Star Trek: Discovery") "will share how they conceive and create creatures, makeup and specialty costumes using traditional techniques and the latest technologies."

Lucasfilm Publishing: New "Star Wars" Stories from a Galaxy Far, Far Away . . . This is THE panel for fans of books from the "Star Wars" universe, featuring a long list of authors: Christian Blauvelt ("Star Wars Made Easy"), Cullen Bunn ("Star Wars: Darth Maul"), Christie Golden ("Battlefront II: Inferno Squad"), Claudia Gray ("Leia: Princess of Alderaan"), Jarrett J. Krosoczka ("Star Wars Jedi Academy: The Force Oversleeps"), Cavan Scott ("Star Wars: Adventures"), Beth Revis ("Star Wars: Rebel Rising") and Landry Walker ("Star Wars Adventures"). 

Space Command: Bold Adventures! This panel will feature "the world premiere of the spectacular opening sequence of 'Space Command: Redemption,' the epic adventure web series that spans 150 years of galactic history!" 

The Science of Star Wars. A group of panelists will try to answer questions like, "Could lightsabers one day be a reality?" and "Which 'Star Wars' droid would NASA take into space?" The panel will include NASA engineer Kim Steadman.

Alien Civilizations. In this panel, "award-winning science-fiction authors, a scientist/futurist, screenwriters and actors talk about alien civilizations and how to design alien species, ships and societies for use in storytelling." 

Saturday, July 22

The Future Is Now. A group of panelists will discuss "how contemporary science fiction has served as a lens into our future," according to the description. "This panel focuses on the core 'fictional' technologies dreamed up in science fiction — from teleportation to replication, from cloning to the reversal of aging, to interstellar travel and beyond." The discussion will explore "how the future might be closer than you think — and what that means." The panelists will include Steven Schowalter, a quantum physicist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); and Jonathan Taplin, director emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California).

Rising Stars in Tech: Drivers of Innovation and Entertainment. "This panel spotlights contributors from the worlds of virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, sustainable tech, and robotics," according to the event description. 

The Science of Rick and Morty. This panel, hosted by Nerdist's Kyle Hill ("Because Science," "Mythbusters: The Search"), will explore the science of the "Rickstaverse," which includes infinite parallel dimensions, countless alien species and screaming suns.

"Star Trek: Discovery." The newest entry in the "Star Trek" TV lineup will debut this fall. In the show, viewers will follow a new group of Starfleet graduates "on their missions to discover new worlds and new life-forms while learning that to truly understand all things alien, you must first understand yourself." The panel will feature members of the show's cast and creative team. ['Star Trek' Celebrates 50th Anniversary with Traveling Art Gallery]

"The Expanse." At this session, "the cast and creators of Syfy's critically acclaimed series are back at Comic-Con to discuss last season's most shocking moments and give an inside look at what to expect from Season 3. Based on the Hugo Award-nominated book series by James S. A. Corey (the pen name of authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), "The Expanse" takes place hundreds of years in the future after humans have colonized the solar system. 

In addition to the above panel, there's also an "Expanse"-themed escape room at this year's Comic-Con, and badges are not required to participate. 

"Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars." "Just in time for the 20th anniversary of the original 'Starship Troopers' (1997), fans will experience the next chapter in the cult franchise with the all-new, CG-animated movie 'Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars.' Written by Ed Neumeier, who crafted the screenplay for the original 'Starship Troopers,' 'Traitor of Mars' serves as a direct storyline sequel to the live-action 1997 movie." During this panel, fans will hear directly from the filmmakers and stars of the new movie, and will see a few exclusive clips. The animated film is due out this fall.

Sunday, July 23

Princess Leia Star Wars Fan Club Tribute Presentation. Fans unite for a special tribute to Carrie Fisher, who was best known for playing Princess Leia Organa in the "Star Wars" universe. This panel, initiated by various "Star Wars" fan clubs, will give fans the opportunity to share stories about Fisher and how she inspired them. ['Star Wars'! 40 Surprising Facts from a Galaxy Far, Far Away]

Science Fiction, Science Future. "SpaceX is developing a reusable passenger rocket, and self-driving cars will soon be in everyone's garage. Science fiction has become science reality. Where are we heading next?" The panel will be hosted by the Fleet Science Center and will feature Andy Weir (author of "The Martian"), Mike Johnson (writer of "Star Trek" comics), Stuart Lee (lead research scientist at NASA) and Allison Hutchings (project engineer at ATA Engineering).

R2-Builders: How to Make Your Own R2-D2/BB-8? "Get all of the information you need to build your own fully functional droid character from the Star Wars universe," the session description reads. During the panel, a group of professional and amateur roboticists will "share their knowledge and expertise to make your build a success."

Doctor Who: BBC America Official Panel. Peter Capaldi, the Twelfth Doctor, will appear at this BBC panel that will also feature a sneak peek of the upcoming "Doctor Who Christmas Special." Other cast members and writers from the show will appear. [BBC Names the First Female Doctor Who]

No Tow Trucks Beyond Mars. This is the panel that the staff is particularly excited about! David Rosing, Mars Sample Return mission system engineer at NASA JPL; Shonte J. Tucker, thermal engineer at NASA JPL; and Laura Kerber, Mars research scientist at NASA JPL, will discuss how scientists can send space probes to locations where they can't be repaired. "Hear stories from the trenches about the heartbreaks, close calls and adventures of real-life solar system exploration," the panel description reads.

Starship Smackdown: The Revenge. "Who will duke it out for the highly coveted Smackdown title this year? Can the Starship Enterprise defeat an Imperial Star Destroyer? Will Rogue One be assimilated by a Borg cube? Will the Nostromo be taken over by Rathtars? And will the Jefferson Starship ever win anything (not to mention, did they actually build Caprica on rock and roll)?" Find out in this session.

More Science in Your Fiction with the League of Extraordinary Scientists and Engineers. "Writers, directors, sci-fi fans, and kids: Get ready to ask your questions about the real science in your fiction!" This panel is absolutely packed with scientists and engineers from different fields who will discuss "how comics and science fiction push scientists and engineers to rocket past what is known to be possible and into an otherwise unimaginable future!"

Please note that we did not include every panel related to "Star Trek" and "Star Wars," because there are far too many. But let us know if we missed any good space-related panels!

You can view a full list of the Comic-Con sessions here.

Follow Calla Cofield @callacofield. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on

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Calla Cofield
Senior Writer

Calla Cofield joined's crew in October 2014. She enjoys writing about black holes, exploding stars, ripples in space-time, science in comic books, and all the mysteries of the cosmos. Prior to joining Calla worked as a freelance writer, with her work appearing in APS News, Symmetry magazine, Scientific American, Nature News, Physics World, and others. From 2010 to 2014 she was a producer for The Physics Central Podcast. Previously, Calla worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (hands down the best office building ever) and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. Calla studied physics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is originally from Sandy, Utah. In 2018, Calla left to join NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory media team where she oversees astronomy, physics, exoplanets and the Cold Atom Lab mission. She has been underground at three of the largest particle accelerators in the world and would really like to know what the heck dark matter is. Contact Calla via: E-Mail – Twitter