2013 Starship Congress Speaker Announcement – Dr. Philip M. Lubin: DE-STAR: A Planetary Defense and Exploration System & Beamed Power for Relativistic Propulsion

2013 Starship Congress Speaker Announcement – Dr. Philip M. Lubin: DE-STAR: A Planetary Defense and Exploration System & Beamed Power for Relativistic Propulsion

Physicist Dr. Philip Lubin has been announced as a speaker for Icarus Interstellar’s 2013 Starship Congress, with the following talk: “DE-STAR:  A Planetary Defense and Exploration System & Beamed Power for Relativistic Propulsion”.

Dr. Philip Lubin is a professor of Physics at UC Santa Barbara whose primary research has been focused on studies of the early universe in the millimeter wavelengths bands. His group has designed, developed and fielded more than two dozen ground based and balloon borne missions and helped develop two major cosmology satellites. Among other accomplishments his group first detected the horizon scale fluctuations in the Cosmic Microwave Background from both their South Pole and balloon borne systems twenty years ago and their latest results, along with an international teams of ESA and NASA researchers, are from the Planck cosmology mission which mapped in exquisite detail the structures of the early universe released in March of this year. He is co-recipient of the 2006 Gruber Prize in Cosmology along with the COBE science team for their groundbreaking work in cosmology. He has published more than 200 papers.

Following is the abstract for Dr. Lubin’s talk DE-STAR:  A Planetary Defense and Exploration System & Beamed Power for Relativistic Propulsion:

We propose an orbital planetary defense system that is also capable of beamed power propulsion allowing relativistic spacecraft speeds using existing technologies. While designed to heat the surface of potentially hazardous objects to the evaporation point to mitigate asteroid threats the system is inherently multi functional with one mode being relativistic beam spacecraft propulsion.  The system is called  DE-STAR for Directed Energy Solar Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation.  DE-STAR is a proposed orbital platform that is a modular phased array of lasers, powered by the sun.  Modular design allows for incremental development, test and initial deployment, lowering cost, minimizing risk and allowing for technological co-development, leading eventually to an orbiting structure that could be erected in stages.  The main objective of DE-STAR would be to use the focused directed energy to raise the surface spot temperature of an asteroid to >3000K, allowing direct evaporation of all known substances. The same system is also capable of propelling spacecraft to relativistic speeds to allow rapid interplanetary travel and relativistic interstellar probes. Our baseline system is a DE-STAR 4 (10km sized array) system which allows for asteroid engagement starting beyond 1AU (mean Earth-Sun distance) with a spot of 30 m at 1 AU. This system is capable of propelling a 102, 103, 104 kg spacecraft to 1 AU in 3,10,30 days with speeds of about 0.4% the speed of light when used in its “photon rail gun mode”.  The same system will propel a 102 kg probe to 2% the speed of light when propelling a spacecraft out to 30 AU after which the spacecraft will coast. Such speeds exceed the galactic escape speed. Smaller systems are also extremely useful and can be built now.  For example, a DE-STAR 1 (10m size array) would be capable of evaporating space debris at 104 km (~ diam of Earth) while a DE-STAR 2 could  diverting volatile-laden asteroids 100m in diameter by initiating engagement at ~0.01-0.5AU. The phased array configuration is capable of creating multiple beams, so a single DE-STAR of sufficient size could engage several threats simultaneously or propelling several spacecraft.  A DE-STAR could also provide power to ion propulsion systems, providing both a means of acceleration on the outbound leg, and deceleration for orbit insertion by rotating the spacecraft and using mirrors to divert the DE-STAR beam into the ion generation cavity.  There are a number of other applications as well including SPS for down linking power to the Earth via millimeter or microwave. A larger system such as a DE-STAR 6 system could propel a 104 kg  spacecraft to near the speed of light allowing for interstellar probes.  There are a number of other applications for the system. While decidedly futuristic in its outlook many of the core technologies now exist and small systems can be built to test the basic concepts as the technology improves. In this talk we will review the basic issues related to the potential for standoff protection and propulsion as well as the key technologies required for implementation.