2022 Should See Start of Technology Demos Leading to High Resolution Exoplanet Imaging

A NASA NIAC Phase III is developing and plans to fly a 2022 TDM (Technology Demonstration Mission) to prove the SGLF’s (Solar Gravitational Lens Focus) mission architecture. They will then prepare a near-term (by 2024), low-cost (less than $40M) mission to fly through the solar system faster than any spacecraft ever ~7 AU/year, capable of rendezvous with an interstellar object (ISO).

During Phase III they will consider a set of missions to demo critical technologies.

These efforts align with our roadmap for the SGLF mission capability build-up:
• 2020-21: Phase III develops SGLF design/cost, validates critical technology;
• 2021: SGLF technology roadmap; tech demo mission(s) (TDM) formulated; coronagraph design; initial TDM is designed, passes PDR, readied for flight;
• 2022: A public-private partnership (PPP) initiates technology demonstration; series of TDMs proposed via the PPP;
• 2023-4: Sailcraft flights (less than $20M) to achieve TRL 9;
• 2026-8: Sun-accelerated flights (with ~10 AU/yr); confirm CONOPS;
• 2027: SGLF Project starts for a preselected target;
• 2032-42: Launch a string-of-pearls (SoP) mission (20+ AU/yr) to the target;
• 2060: Discover life beyond the solar system.

By 2060, this strategy could deliver results of tremendous value to our civilization. With Phase III, a high-resolution exoplanet imaging could be achieved in the 21st century, as a flexible, low-cost, affordable string-of-pearls (SoP) concept going faster/further into deep space while also exploring the outer solar system.

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