Vacuum to Antimatter-Rocket Interstellar Explorer System (VARIES): A Proposed Program for an Interstellar Rendezvous and Return Architecture

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R. Obousy (2011), JBIS, 64, 378-386

Refcode: 2011.64.378
Keywords: Antimatter rocket, boiling the vacuum, pair production, interstellar rendezvous

While interstellar missions have been explored in the literature, one mission architecture has not received much attention, namely the interstellar rendezvous and return mission that could be accomplished on timescales comparable with a working scientist's career. Such a mission would involve an initial boost phase followed by a coasting phase to the target system. Next would be the deceleration and rendezvous phase, which would be followed by a period of scientific data gathering. Finally, there would be a second boost phase, aimed at returning the spacecraft back to the solar system, and subsequent coasting and deceleration phases upon return to our solar system. Such a mission would represent a precursor to a future manned interstellar mission; which in principle could safely return any astronauts back to Earth.

In this paper a novel architecture is proposed that would allow for an unmanned interstellar rendezvous and return mission. The approach utilized for the Vacuum to Antimatter-Rocket Interstellar Explorer System (VARIES) would lead to system components and mission approaches that could be utilized for autonomous operation of other deep-space probes. Engineering solutions for such a mission will have a significant impact on future exploration and sample return missions for the outer planets. This paper introduces the general concept, with a mostly qualitative analysis. However, a full research program is introduced, and as this program progresses, more quantitative papers will be released.

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