Sunday, May 9, 2010

Interstellar Space Probe: Thirty Years Later

"Futuristic Interstellar Space Probe Idea Revisited " (May 7, 2010)

"New technologies and the growing number of alien planets being discovered are fueling a new look at a plans for a futuristic interstellar probe into deep space.

"A dedicated study team has formed Project Icarus, an international initiative of the U.S.-based Tau Zero Foundation in collaboration with the British Interplanetary Society (BIS).

"The multi-talented group is delving into everything under our the sun to develop designs for the interstellar spaceship, from inertial confinement fusion to reviewing the latest in nanotechnology, computing, and electronics, as well as identifying target star destinations...."

"Unpiloted Daedalus star probe design was the output from a British Interplanetary Society study completed in the late 1970s. Credit: © David A. Hardy at"

The British Interplanetary Society's Daedelus design is about three decades old now: and due for review, I think. As the article says:

"...'The Project Daedalus theoretical engineering design study took place over three decades ago. In the time since, there have been many advances in science and technology,' said Kelvin Long, a key Icarus designer.

" 'There is a need to maintain interest in and the capability to design interstellar probes,' Long told 'With many of the historical leaders in this field now nearing retirement or deceased, the Project Icarus study group wants to take up the baton and keep alive the long term vision that travel to the stars will one day be possible. This is one of the reasons why over half of the team is relatively fresh out of their university studies."..."

Will This Help Me Start My Car on Cold Winter Mornings?

Apart from helping develop cheap, clean fusion power generators, I don't see obvious practical benefits to theoretical design projects like Daedelus/Icarus. Which reminds me: don't these folks know what happened to Icarus? It's a little like naming a cruise ship "Titanic." Never mind.

I think there's some value in the "spirit of adventure" mentioned in the article. But that's threatening to lead this post into another topic.

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