In January 2013 the Project Team were discussing the challenges of designing the Project Icarus spacecraft with a large, dispersed volunteer group. We had a large back catalogue of research and trade studies but no proper engineering designs to speak of. In fact we couldn’t even agree the main propulsion system or other major systems for our first concept designs. So we instigated the internal competition to create concept designs by splitting the project team in to self selected sub-teams based around what was felt some of the top fusion propulsion options. The outline parameters were based on the project ToRs (Terms of Reference) for a mainly fusion spacecraft, on a 100 year mission with up to 150 tonnes payload (given the unavoidable size of your typical fusion spacecraft).
The Project Icarus workshop on the 21st/22nd October in London was held at the British Interplanetary Society headquarters in Vauxhall. Organised as the culmination of the competition period intended to find the best Icarus Concept design it forced team members to start putting earlier trade studies and research in to use in actually designing spacecraft. In earlier blogs you will have read about the four teams that made it to the workshop which were the Munich Ghost Team headed up by Andreas Hein, the Icarus Firefly design by Robert Freeland II, the Ultra Dense Deuterium (UDD) concept design by Milos Stanic and the Starship Resolution team headed up by Kelvin Long.
The workshop itself commenced with a Project update by the project leader Rob Swinney, followed by Stephen Baxter giving an overview of the main issues with Daedalus that needed to be resolved (which had been prepared from earlier work by Jim French). Each of the sub-teams then took turns to present their designs to the workshop.
Finally after 2 and a bit days there was a unanimous decision that the Ghost team had created the overall best design. Congratulations to Andreas Hein and his budding team of interstellar spacecraft designers! A hearty well done’s for the endeavours of the other participants whose efforts went beyond the call of duty, particularly the team leaders Robert Freeland II, Milos Stanic and Kelvin Long.
A further outcome of the workshop was to down select options for future design work. Now, although it was a agreed that the Ghost design was the best overall design because of its breadth and excellent analysis that still left plenty to debate. Foremost was which propulsion scheme, fuel and ignition system should be further developed. But we did come to decisions on such things as Helium 3 mining and the use of Magnetic sails. In the end the workshop identified that two propulsion schemes should be taken forward, ICF (with a detailed look at the D/D reaction) and z-Pinch and using a common spacecraft bus based on the ghost design such that, if at all possible, either propulsion option could be ‘plugged’ in.
The next stage of the work is a preliminary design and further detailed systems design work to be completed by the end of 2014.
A big thank you to everyone who supported the workshop in any way!
Rob Swinney, Project Leader