Project Voyager – Design a 2d/3d Interstellar Trajectory and Mission Planning Tools

Icarus Interstellar’s latest research project is Project Voyager. Voyager will be led by Project Leader Zach Fejes (zfejes@icarusinterstellar.org), who has built a team of Engineers, Physicists and coders, with objective to design a 2d/3d interstellar trajectory and mission planning tool from the ground up.

Icarus Interstellar is a nonprofit foundation dedicated to achieving interstellar flight by the year 2100. The organizations was founded in 2011 and received its tax exemption status in January 2013. The organization grew out of Project Icarus, which is a five year design study for a fusion powered starship that began on September 30th 2009 and was launched jointly by the British Interplanetary Society and the Tau Zero Foundation.

The Toronto based team of 14 researchers so far have already settled in and are working on Euler vs 4th order Runge Kutta approximations of the inner solar system. Here’s a very early screen of the 2d and 3d visualizer (uses Unity).

Project Voyager is about mapping a path to the stars. Not tomorrow, not in a decade, but today.
In essence, the project involves the creation of a mission planning software system, to enable interplanetary and interstellar trajectory planning. This program will enable scientists, engineers, and enthusiasts from Icarus and other space organizations to accurately plan missions not only to bodies in our solar system, but to the known bodies in other star systems as well. We are building the program to be extendable, so that every new discovery (whether an asteroid, dwarf planet, or exoplanet) can be added to the system and used to plan more accurate missions. As our knowledge of the universe around us expands, so will our map.

We are planning the software to be divided into two distinct parts. The first is the mission planning stage. Here, we will have a graphical interface that allows the user to visually travel around the entire mapped region of space. In this component all of the bodies will be on ‘rails’ in their respective predicted orbits. The user should be able to manipulate their vessel’s trajectory in real time (using patched conics), and produce a relatively accurate trajectory to their chosen destination. After this is done, the second part of the software will come online. All force vectors from the earlier planning stage are logged, and the start time determined. Starting from this data, a full gravitational simulator is run to determine a trajectory more accurate than that provided by the PCA. Once this has been determined, the map will overlay the two trajectories, and switch back into real-time mode, allowing the user to iteratively design their mission plan.

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