Project Icarus: Development of Fusion Based Space Propulsion for Interstellar Missions

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K. Long (2016), JBIS, 69, pp.289-294

Refcode: 2016.69.289
Keywords: Fusion, Propulsion, Project Daedalus, Project Icarus

In the 1970s members of the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) completed a five year theoretical engineering design study of an interstellar probe. Project Daedalus was the first such study to move interstellar flight from a subject of speculative fiction to one of credible feasibility by considering a fully integrated `Starship design'. In 2009 members of the BIS, in collaboration with others, initiated the follow-up study Project Icarus. This international volunteer project aims to evolve an improved engineering design based upon over three decades of technology and scientific advancements. As with Daedalus, one of the critical aspects of the design work is the engine, an inertial confinement fusion based system using a set of electron beam drivers to implode capsules of deuterium and helium-3 to ignition. This paper will discuss aspects of the Daedalus engine design and consider some of the initial options being considered for how the Icarus engine design may differ from that of the Daedalus design as part of the pre-concept design considerations. This paper is a submission of the Project Icarus Study Group.

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