Day 1 – Interstellar Now (Next 20 Years) | Thursday August 15th, 2013
The Icarus Interstellar Starship Congress aims to bring together the interstellar community to foster discussion and generate tangible action. Our ambition is to move humanity toward becoming an interstellar civilization, with a broad campaign of exploration and migration to begin by the year 2100.
Part 3 Day 1
3:00pm Presentation 8: Philip Lubin, “DE-STAR – Beamed 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 over 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 10^2, 10^3, 10^4 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 10^2 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 10^4 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 10^4 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
3:25pm Presentation 9: Andreas Tziolas, “Project Tin-Tin: Interstellar Nano-Probes”
Project Tin-Tin Abstract:
The pursuit of deep space and interstellar exploration studies has recently become a matter of critical debate, with several research programs drawing attention to the merits of pressing the boundaries of current and near future technologies towards such goals.
Project Tin Tin is a mission profile and spacecraft design feasibility program which aims to establish the science, propulsion, communications, power and materials which will be used to build interstellar precursor missions using cubesats.
The mission objectives are to establish a program of utilizing space systems miniaturization technologies to create a template mission and spacecraft package for space-proofing interstellar systems. Through this effort we aim to develop and launch the first ever interstellar spacecraft on route to Alpha Centauri. The mission aims to serve as proof of current solar system escape capabilities using small satellites, and as a means to fast-track solar system exploration.
In this paper and presentation we establish that an interstellar journey to our nearest star is feasible within 25,000 years using current technology, cutting Voyager’s best time to a nearest star by a factor of 1/3, with reasonable room for improvements.
3:50pm Presentation 10: Buldrini & Seifert, “Innovative Ultra-FEEP Thrusters for Interstellar Precursor Missions”
For extra-solar missions and interstellar precursor exploration the propulsion system of the spacecraft is probably the most challenging technology. Due to the enormous Dv and specific impulse requirements conventional propulsion technologies like chemical propulsion cannot be utilized. Apart from future nuclear fusion solutions and theoretical breakthrough propulsion concepts, advanced electric propulsion is currently the most promising technology together with
solar sail concepts. The specific impulse is the key parameter in order to greatly reduce propellant and therefore spacecraft mass. However, even the most efficient ion thrusters with specific impulses up to 7,000 s do not fulfill the demands required to exit our solar system in less than two decades which is a reasonable time horizon for long-term missions.
Field Emission Electric Propulsion (FEEP) not only offers high specific impulses of more than 10,000 s but also solid propellant such as Indium or Gallium. The low melting point of Indium at ~157 °C guarantees low thermal losses, and advanced electrode designs in combination with ultra-high acceleration voltages of several hundred kV enable specific impulse values reaching 100,000 s or more. In contrast to single-needle or single-capillary based FEEP emitters the utilization of several needles, applicable to the in-house developed 1D circular array (crown emitter) and to 2D arrays, multiplies the generated thrust and increases the reliability and redundancy of the propulsion system. The continuous required power of up to 1 MW at large distances from the Sun cannot be harvested by plain solar panels and therefore need to be provided by ultra-light weight power sources such as miniaturized nuclear reactors or beamed power systems.
4:15pm Break | Description of Evening Event
4:30pm STARSHIP CONGRESS: Near-Term Questions
6:00pm Dinner (Individual)
8:00pm Event 1 | “Stakeholder Stage: Celebrating the Impact of DARPA 2011″
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.