Interstellar Flight – A Project Icarus Project Progress Update

posted by Andreas Tziolas on April 28, 2011


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6 Responses to Interstellar Flight – A Project Icarus Project Progress Update

  1. Your Future says:

    It seems kind of dumb to use the pellet method when He3 is so rare. Why not use hydrogen-boron Inertial Electrostatic Confinement fusion instead?

    There’s no radiation, power can be collected directly as electricity and/or the hot products can be ejected for propulsion. Borax is a nice, dense fuel – unlike gaseous He3 which leaks out of practically anything.

  2. Adam says:

    Hi Your Future
    As nice as an IEC fusion system would be, I am yet to be convinced that p+B11 fusion reactions will be much better than D-He3 for high exhaust velocity fusion rockets, due to the lower energy fraction and the difficulty of starting it.

  3. Buck Field says:

    I understand and appreciate that if one wants to contribute to interstellar flight, a way to address that want as an aerospace design expert (and similar) is to design interstellar spacecraft based on current technology. Unfortunately, even if unlimited funding and human labor were available, and even if velocity of c could be instantaneously achieved, interstellar flight to another planet and back would not be survivable for a human, to say nothing of feasible. Thus the PI team is doing excellent, high quality work, it appears to be good progress in a less productive direction than might be pursued.

    I would assert focus on warp technology, starting with development of space-time models capable of enabling such technology, can be productively undertaken.

    The Quantum Universe Committee report calls for “A New Copernican Model” for resolving the oceans of anomalous data in which the physics community is swimming, “Cognitive Structure of Scientific Revolutions” and other history & philosophy of science texts describe what constitutes such transformative models, and “Creating Scientific Concepts” details the processes for development.

    Portfolio, program, and project management standards (e.g.: PMI’s) provide guidelines for selecting research aligned with strategic goals, identifying the best ROI, and ensuring success of the research project, of which many would be needed – but this would be a plausible approach with a chance of realizing interstellar travel.

    • Hi Buck,

      Your post is very interesting, in that it contains questions we have been asked several times from layman and experts alike. Allow me to make some point by point observations:

      Unfortunately, even if unlimited funding and human labor were available…

      With unlimited funding and human labor dedicated to achieve interstellar exploration, the spinoff technologies alone would give us, at a minimum:

      1. Sustainable fusion providing safe cheap energy for mankind for millenia,
      2. Advanced ultra-stong ultra-light tensile materials through advances in nanomaterials,
      3. Autonomous self-repair mechanisms,
      4. Exponential advances in Computing and Communications
      5. Solar system wide exploration and colonization.

      For these reasons alone, this interstellar road less traveled is sufficient enough reason to justify the pursuit of technologies in support of interstellar exploration, much as the Apollo era has fueled technological innovation over the last 40 years.

      “…and even if velocity of c could be instantaneously achieved, interstellar flight to another planet and back would not be survivable for a human, to say nothing of feasible.”

      Agreed that a round trip to Alpha Centauri is probably not survivable for a single human. Do you feel the same about mankind? If a series of interstellar probes proved that a 100 or 150 year long mission was achievable, a baseline strategy can then be formed for the extreme case where the survival of the race is at stake. The British Interplanetary Society ran a conference on Worldships only last week – the papers will be published in JBIS next month – I think given your views you would find this interesting: http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=19056

      “Thus the PI team is doing excellent, high quality work, it appears to be good progress in a less productive direction than might be pursued. I would assert focus on warp technology, starting with development of space-time models capable of enabling such technology, can be productively undertaken.”

      In this particular matter, I must disagree. While the concept of a Warp Drive is immensely attractive, at this stage we only have scientific suggestions, ie. Alcubierre, Obousy, etc but no technological path, nor access to the amounts of energy necessary to experiment with Warp Field formation. A Type II or Type III Kardashev civilization (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kardashev_scale) would be needed to take on such experiments which could lead to a vehicle or otherwise transportation system.

      I was fortunate in pursuing a PhD in Astroparticle Physics, String Theory and Cosmology and am fully aware of the limitations of Warp theory. However I do harbor hopes that I will find a time to write a paper on Warp Mechanincs in the near future, although independent of the efforts we are undertaking here as Project Icarus. While we keep working the problem, why not explore current and near future options using physics we already understand, or are close to perfecting. Beamed propulsion physics for example is 100% understood – and passionate groups, similar to Project Icarus must keep the pressure on to make beamed propulsion spacecraft a reality.

      “The Quantum Universe Committee report calls for “A New Copernican Model” for resolving the oceans of anomalous data in which the physics community is swimming, “Cognitive Structure of Scientific Revolutions” and other history & philosophy of science texts describe what constitutes such transformative models, and “Creating Scientific Concepts” details the processes for development.”

      Quantum Universe Committee report: http://www.interactions.org/pdf/Quantum_Universe_GR.pdf – refers to some cornerstone problems in particle and high energy physics, as well as cosmology relating to dark energy, dark matter and antimatter and dates back to 2004. I was not aware of this report, but thank you for bringing it to our attention. Having studied it now, I have not found anything antagonistic to interstellar exploration. Quite the opposite in fact, as the report above all calls for:

      It’s one thing to write science fiction about antimatter engines to the stars or speculate on worm holes that tunnel vast distances across the galaxy. But to do the hard work of putting down compelling experiments and theories was one charter for the Quantum Universe committee.

      It seems that is exactly what Project Icarus is doing. I cannot find the reference to “A New Copernican Model”, although it is implied. I have not read “Cognitive Structure of Scientific Revolutions” or “Creating Scientific Concepts”, and will not do so, seeing as Icarus has been doing a fine job channeling youthful energy into each obstacle and, I am proud to say, overcoming it with grace. Sometimes you have to go with gut instinct. We have several seasoned scientists on our team to guide us, when enthusiasm fails.

      “Portfolio, program, and project management standards (e.g.: PMI’s) provide guidelines for selecting research aligned with strategic goals, identifying the best ROI, and ensuring success of the research project, of which many would be needed – but this would be a plausible approach with a chance of realizing interstellar travel.”

      Buck, it sounds like you have much experience in this matter. You should take these ideas and channel them into a research project similar to the wildly successful Tau Zero Foundation (http://www.tauzero.aero/), which under leadership by Marc Millis (formed NASA Breakthrough Propulsion Physics) is taking on those difficult questions, such as Warp Drives etc. Marc has been an inspiration to us all and I am sure will be to you too – please review his website. In the mean time, Project Icarus will continue doing the hard research, innovating interstellar spacecraft design, the foundations of which have already been laid down by Project Daedalus in 1978 – a central source of motivation for our group.

      Project Icarus is working with many organizations around the world, putting together a realizable approach for manufacturing the starship which Project Icarus is designing, within 100 years – ideally much MUCH less. Given your well formed ideas on organizing a Warp drive research organization, I hope you would welcome a friendly wager: First one to Alpha Centauri wins!

      The race starts NOW!

      Respectfully,

      Andreas Tziolas, PhD
      Icarus Project Leader

      • Bruce Graham says:

        Greetings ! I enjoy reading the comments of other interested folks, and you replies. Somewhere I read that Icarus is encouraging Scientists to study various ” Drives “. I have minimal education in the field of Physics, but heres a thought I keep coming back to :- ” Is it a possibility that the force of Gravity could get a lot of intense study, with the aim being an ability to ” focus ” it , a bit like a Laser beam is ” focused ?” Is Gravity governed by the Speed of Light ? I can’t see that it is. I remember that one of Newton’s Laws was something like :- ” A falling object does so , because of Gravity , at the rate of 32 feet , per second, per second”….therefore it gains velocity at an enormous rate, getting faster and faster the further it ” falls”. Magnetic force fields seem to be common to a lot of objects in Space, but are governed by the Speed of Light. I would very much appreciate a comment regarding my ideas of ” Gravity “. The ” Mars One ” Company and Icarus , are ” Lights on my horizon ! “When I was around 12 ( =1952 !) I was an avid reader of the Dandy , UK Comic for kids. On the front pages featured Dan Dare ( Space Traveller ). The first E.T’s he came across were the Treens , whose eader was ” The Mekon”…..they came from Venus and had blue skin ( ! ! ! )…..i used to think that ” Surely in my lifetime I’ll see humans on other Planets “…but I’ve already paseed the ” Two Score Years and Ten ” ration! If I live long enough I’ll hope to see the first 4# Martian Colonists get settled in by ” Mars One ” Ltd. ! Looking forward to your comments ! Regards, Bruce G.

  4. Soop says:

    many drives to choose from
    funding…… man power……

    if things keep going they way they are not space time manifold field science to see not much time

    Hand up 4 an engineering section role ;0

    been trying to come up with some way of make it happen soon then later so i can transfer into upgraded “shell” before it gets too old
    but gathering the resources seams like mission impossible

    if we were running on a time based economy this would be an issue of the past. – damm those greedy power hungry leaders of tha past.

    …….

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