Project Icarus is looking again at interstellar spacecraft, in the light of new developments in physics, materials and astronomy. A series of smaller test vehicles is envisaged to test the new technologies.
A potential spacecraft called Icarus Pathfinder would be powered by electromagnetic VASIMR (Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket) engines, taking it out to 1,000 times the distance from Earth to the sun.
A potential spacecraft called Icarus Pathfinder would be powered by VASIMR engines, taking it out to 1,000 AU (1AU is the distance between the Earth and sun).
Obtaining the exotic fuels needed for interstellar flight is a major challenge – here a scheme is shown where a spacecraft in low orbit around Jupiter lowers an extremely long tube into the atmosphere, sucking up and processing gases.
Another spaceship fuel-mining scheme involves balloon miners in the atmosphere of Uranus, where gases would be collected and processed, and then carried to the fuelling site by smaller tanker spacecraft.
Project Icarus is currently at a very early stage and no definitive design has been selected – this illustration shows one possible candidate concept for an interstellar spacecraft.
This Icarus concept starship uses Graphene as a shield material to protect the vehicle during the voyage to another star.
Future starships may be constructed in Earth orbit using a ring-type construction facility, which could have hotel rooms where guests could observe the construction.
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