Project Daedalus


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Therefore a basic funding commitment over at least the next 80 years would be required for implementation and successful completion of the mission. As shown in the time-into-mission graph in Figure This is because the helium-3 needed for fuel is rare on Earth and must be harvested from the atmosphere of Jupiter using "aerostat factories" floating in the jovian air at medium altitudes.

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This technology obviously requires at least a mature spacefaring Type I cultural level among humans, which should be attainable in the next century here on Earth. The boost period, involving three propellant tank drops and a single stage separation, would last 3. Mission to the Stars The Daedalus starship takes shape in orbit around Callisto, near Jupiter.

A new frontier is about to open. Factory modules floating in the atmosphere of Jupiter harvest the isotope Helium-3 for use as fuel in the Daedalus starship. At far left is the overall scheme, with ascent vehicle docked.

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At near left is detail of the factory complex. Soon it will have escaped from Jupiter and the Sun and head into interstellar space on its half-century flight to another star. Results of stellar target ranking out to 12 light years. This, the option ultimately chosen, works by exploding pellets of deuterium and helium-3 in a combustion chamber like a tiny nuclear bomb. A magnetic field would stream the plasma behind the ship to propel it forward.

The pellets would be ignited by high-power lasers or electron beams. A velocity of more than kilometers a second could be achieved with this rocket, and so it was calculated as being able to meet the mission requirements. Due to the scarcity of helium-3 it was to be mined from the atmosphere of Jupiter via large hot-air balloon supported robotic factories over a 20 year period.

Daedalus would be constructed in Earth orbit and have an initial mass of 54, metric tons nearly 20 times the weight of the Saturn V , including 50, tons of fuel and tons of scientific payload. Daedalus was to be a two-stage spacecraft. The first stage would operate for two years, taking the spacecraft to 7. The Daedalus would then jettison the exhausted primary stage, shedding much of its size and weight as the second stage took over. By way of comparison, a vehicle traveling at that velocity could reach Jupiter from Earth in under five hours, or reach New York City from Paris in 0.

The second stage would have two 5-meter optical telescopes and two meter radio telescopes that would be directed towards the Barnardian System twenty-five years after launch to send imagery and data back home.

These images would reveal the exact positions of any attendant planets, allowing mission control to select points of interest. This information would be sent back to Earth, using the meter diameter second stage engine bell that would also be serving as a communications dish.

Nuclear Pulse Propulsion

Project Daedalus was a study conducted between and by the British Interplanetary Society to design a plausible unmanned interstellar spacecraft. Project Daedalus was a bold way to examine the Fermi Paradox head on and gave a partial answer – interstellar travel is possible. The basis of this belief was .

Daedalus would activate these robotic passengers between 7. These eighteen sub-probes would then break away from the mothership and slip off to their destinations powered by independent ion drives. Their cameras, spectrometers, polarimeters, and other instruments would take as many pictures and readings as possible while flying past any planets at high speeds.

Project Daedalus

All data would be relayed back to Earth using the powerful transmitter on the Daedalus mothership. Naturally many instruments would be tuned to search for evidence of life-harboring climates. The Daedalus and probes would have a relatively short time to make observations before zipping past the star system at over a million kilometers per hour.

Though the slow-moving particles of the Interstellar Medium are seldom larger than grains of sand, the millions of tiny, high-speed impacts would have a sandblaster effect upon the Daedalus. This erosion shield would be made from beryllium due to its lightness and high latent heat of vaporization. In addition, the Daedalus would be escorted by its own artificially generated particle cloud, which would precede the spaceship at the same extreme speed, sweeping most larger objects out of the path.

A quantitative engineering analysis of a self-replicating variation on Project Daedalus was published in by Robert Freitas. New techniques and technologies have detected a plethora of planets orbiting nearby stars. Technologies are here today which could bring Daedalus— or something like it— to fruition. Why did we as a society allow this to happen? We are capable of breaking through the limits imposed by our natural heritage — of applying the evolutionary gift of our rational, empirical intelligence to strive to surpass the confines of our human limits.

Will we reject blind faith and the passive, comfortable thinking that leads to dogma, conformity, and stagnation by turning to what should be our destiny in the stars? Or will we continue our decline — preferring fuzzy but comfortable delusion to analytical thoughts, mysticism to empiricism and conformity for independent evaluation?

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Great societies do not accept revelation, authority, or emotion as reliable sources of knowledge. Rational societies recognize that advancing individually and socially calls for critically challenging the dogmas and assumptions of the past while resisting the popular delusions of the present. Daedalus was to be a two stage spacecraft, with stage one carrying 46, tonnes of fuel and stage two carrying tonnes. After a total boost phase of nearly four years, it would be traveling at its top speed of Daedalus was to be an unmanned fly-by probe, and so would only stay in the target solar system for a relatively short period of time about two days to cross the equivalent of the solar system , during which it would gather important scientific data from the target solar system.

One of the notable features of the Daedalus design was its use of Helium-3 in the fuel pellets. Helium-3 is one of the most difficult of the fusion fuels to ignite, requiring a higher ignition temperature when compared to other fusion fuels. However, its energy release is among the highest of the various fusion fuels, and thus leads to the greatest thrust.

Helium-3 is incredibly rare on Earth; however, there is strong evidence for concentrations of between 0. Additionally, vast quantities of He3 are known to exist in the atmosphere of the gas giants. The Daedalus mission involved a plan to mine the atmosphere of Jupiter. This requirement in itself indicates the need for a vast solar system-wide civilization with abundant capabilities and a massive space-based infrastructure, and so makes the challenge of building a 'Daedalus Class' spacecraft great.

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Despite these difficulties, what is particularly enticing about the Daedalus design is that it is within the realms of credible science, since no new physics is required. This in itself does not imply that the task of building Daedalus would be easy, as the engineering and economical costs are quite staggering, but it is certainly encouraging that this design could be built, given sufficient ambition. Project Icarus , which began on September 30th, , was inspired by Daedalus, and is a 21st century attempt to re-examine the problem of interstellar propulsion with the benefit of over thirty years of scientific progress and understanding since the original project.

Broadly stated, the purpose of Project Icarus is as follows:. To design a credible interstellar probe that is a concept design for a potential mission in the coming centuries. To allow a direct technology comparison with Daedalus and provide an assessment of the maturity of fusion-based space propulsion for future precursor missions.