Project Icarus: A Review of Interstellar Starship Designs


R. K. Obousy (2012), JBIS65, 225-231

Refcode: 2012.65.225
Keywords: Interstellar flight, Project Icarus, Project Daedalus

Interstellar missions have been proposed as a priority for research into (1) the interstellar medium and any number of astrophysical studies which could be performed en-route, (2) astrophysical studies of a target star, or stars, if a multiple system is selected, (3) planetary science studies of any planets in the target system, including moons and large asteroids, and (4) astrobiological and exobiological studies of any habitable planets which may be found in a target system.

The primary challenges associated with any interstellar mission relate to the distances involved, and missions conducted on timescales of a human lifetime are not possible using conventional chemical propulsion. Numerous unique solutions have been proposed including; beamed energy propulsion, fission/fusion propulsion, antimatter propulsion, and more exotic ideas like wormholes and warp drives. In this talk a broad overview of the state-of-the-art in starship design is presented. In addition a discussion the merits and limitations of these proposals is included. Finally an examination of the technological maturity of these concepts and the possibility of their realization within a century is presented.