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Sci-Fi Space Science

Project Icarus: an Interstellar Mission Timeline 265

Posted by Soulskill
from the to-boldly-go dept.
astroengine writes "What would the infrastructure supporting an interstellar mission look like? Considerations such as fuel sources, mining methods, interstellar spaceship construction activities and maintenance are being analyzed, all of which would be carried out before even reaching the ultimate interstellar goal. Project Icarus is currently unravelling the complexities of this operation and recently created a nifty animation of how one of the many fuel tanks may be recycled as communication relay pods en route to nearby stars."
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Project Icarus: an Interstellar Mission Timeline

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  • Unless the Human Race spreads to other worlds, systems, and galaxies, we are dead as a species. The Universe is littered with the remains of races who never escaped their home solar system.

    Wild Speculation provided by: HEX

    • It may have been wild speculation but in fact I think these may be good predictions.

      Firstly, the sun is eventually going to render the Earth uninhabitable so - assuming we survive that long - we'll have to leave.

      Secondly, with the Universe being such a big place I'd wager my last penny on there being millions upon millions of intelligent species and so at least one that has died out confined to their planet.

      • You clearly are the product of a deranged imagination. Everyone knows that the population of the whole universe is zero.
        • by wjousts (1529427)

          You clearly are the product of a deranged imagination. Everyone knows that the intelligent population of the whole universe is zero.

          FTFY

          • You clearly are the product of a deranged imagination. Everyone knows that the intelligent population of the whole universe is zero.

            FTFY

            You obviously don't know the quote.

            "It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by gEvil (beta) (945888)

        Firstly, the sun is eventually going to render the Earth uninhabitable so - assuming we survive that long - we'll have to leave.

        These are the words of someone who clearly has zero concept of the planet's past and future timelines, where we currently are in that timeline, and mankind's own history in relation to the planet's timeline.

        Hint: An event that's expected to happen in 6 to 7 billion years isn't something we should worry about at all, especially when you consider that mankind has existed for 1 to 2 million years at most of the planet's 4.5 billion year history.

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          Well, sure, the human race is in its infancy, but by that same standard, the planet is in its forties. So although it's not a crisis yet, it certainly is something we should be worrying about as a species, if only because it might take most of that six billion years to find with a viable alternative.

    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday May 09, 2011 @04:40PM (#36075818)

      Unless the Human Race spreads to other worlds, systems, and galaxies, we are dead as a species.

      God, I am so sick of hearing that tired old cliche. Even putting aside the time scales we are talking here, there is absolutely no calamity, short of any earth-destroying asteroid (nothing even close to which has been encountered since MAYBE the strike that may have created the moon) or the sun going all Krypton on us (sure, in a few billion years) that is going to make the earth LESS survivable than any other planet or body in this solar system, and likely any other solar system for dozens of light years out (which are essentially unreachable by man).

      If we had a Yucatan strike today, we would be much better off tunneling deep underground than trying to mount a ship to some Mars colony. Even a post-strike earth would still have water, supplies of oxygen, survivable atmospheric pressure, much more cosmic radiation protection, etc. compared to Mars. And it wouldn't require an extremely resource intensive journey to get underground. The earth of the only planet on which humans can survive for any length of time in a self-sufficient manner. Every other planet in the solar system is a death-trap (and there is no reason to suspect otherwise for any other solar system within reach--which currently includes no solar systems besides our own, BTW).

      • by lennier (44736)

        +++ this. I've been trying to argue exactly this point for a while now.

        Even 40-some years after Apollo, our ideas of "the space frontier" are still based on pop-culture mashups of the heyday of Elizabethan and Napoleonic sea-colonisation by way of the post-Civil War American West and the dogfighting scenes from World War II. Real space is not like that, and the #1 stupid idea in the pop-space zeitgeist is "we'll have to go to other plants because Earth will become uninhabitable".

        No, short of a supernova, i

      • by oni (41625)

        The real problem isn't being wiped out as a species. The problem is the collapse of our civilization. See, we've already used up the easy-to-obtain energy sources. Doing that has raised our civilization to the point that it just might be possible for us to start exploiting the huge pool of resources available in the solar system - but if we blow it, if we miss this opportunity and our civilization collapses, then we may never get another chance to go into space.

        I'll phrase all of that as a parable from an R

    • by gnick (1211984)

      Unless the Human Race spreads to other worlds, systems, and galaxies, we are dead as a species.

      We are dead as a species.
      FTFY - Heat death FTW

  • Icarus? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quato (132194) on Monday May 09, 2011 @03:41PM (#36075072)
    I question naming the project Icarus... maybe you don't want to pick a guy who fell to his death for trying to fly too high.
    I mean, isn't Icarus associated with failed ambitions?
    • by FudRucker (866063)
      it is a prophetic name...

      "it will never get off the ground Orville" - Wilbur

      this time i really think it wont fly
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Depends. As I understand it in Greece Icarus is the hero figure because he didn't play it safe. I guess it all depends on your point of view.

    • Icarus aimed too high, too fast, too soon. We have better "wax" these days, and hindsight to guide our planning.

      The meek shall inherit the Earth, the rest of us shall take the stars!

    • by DudeG (623373)
      This is the inspiration for the name, from a book by Arthur Eddington: "In ancient days two aviators procured to themselves wings. Daedalus flew safely through the middle air and was duly honoured on his landing. Icarus soared upwards to the sun till the wax melted which bound his wings and his flight ended in fiasco. In weighing their achievements, there is something to be said for Icarus. The classical authorities tell us that he was only “doing a stunt”, but I prefer to think of him as the
  • by mangu (126918)

    I suppose they are planning on a really close flyby to the star

  • by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug@g e e k a zon.com> on Monday May 09, 2011 @03:53PM (#36075242) Homepage

    Let's assume full deceleration at the target star has been achieved ... By that time, near-Earth telescopes would be sufficiently advanced to verify and inform the Icarus computers ...

    ... that the pre-warp technology museum on Starbase 235 is prepared to receive it in docking bay 19.

  • by Chaonici (1913646)

    I saw "Project Icarus: an Interstallar Mission Timeline" and thought we were finally going to research a way to dial the ninth chevron. Alas, disappointed yet again.

  • by LWATCDR (28044)

    Just use an interstellar ramjets and cold sleep. At least until we make contact with the Outsiders and get hyperdrive technology.
    And if you see something that looks like a pair of sock puppets do not trust it.

  • These guys probably thought, with society's short attention span, they'd waited long enough to fool everyone! But I just watched Die Another Day [imdb.com] last night, so I know exactly what Project Icarus is! These guys are North Korean plants!

    However, if they're willing to give me some quality time with Rosamund Pike [imdb.com]... I'll gladly turn a blind eye to their machinations.

  • by Vrallis (33290)

    One major project 'section' I notice missing from their site is the crew. They cover the goal of reaching a star within a human lifetime, but I didn't see anything about it being multi-generation. Sending out a bunch of 20 year olds on a 50 year mission seems to leave little time for serious research at the destination planet, assuming they all even live that long.

    I'm all for making some attempts at interstellar travel, but it almost has to be designed with a sustaining colony in mind. That means enough

    • by vlm (69642)

      There is also the issue of what if they arrive at the target planet and discover it really isn't habitable? There probably need to be contingency plans to make the trip to the next possible candidate. This is something that they could be actively looking for during the trip itself.

      That's why you're better off building fully self contained permanently habitable stationary colonies every couple months along the path. As a bonus, you'll probably end up with something like a trillion times earths surface area as permanently habitable stations. On the down side that is going to take a heck of a lot of material. It'll take a lot longer, but the rewards are greater.

      Its a very American perspective to try to get their first, once, and just as a stunt. Much better to settle colonies all al

      • by Vrallis (33290)

        That's why you're better off building fully self contained permanently habitable stationary colonies every couple months along the path. As a bonus, you'll probably end up with something like a trillion times earths surface area as permanently habitable stations. On the down side that is going to take a heck of a lot of material. I

        Not just materials to build, but materials to sustain. Perhaps if the stations were built on planets (habitable or not) then this would be feasible. Without it you'd just have a massive string of floating space stations that need a constant stream of resources, no matter how sustainable they try to be.

      • by lennier (44736)

        That's why you're better off building fully self contained permanently habitable stationary colonies every couple months along the path.

        So you'll need to accelerate to interstellar cruising speed and decelerate to orbital capture every couple of months (assuming that there are mass points accessible within that timeframe; dwarf stars maybe?) That's a lot of reaction mass. Ouch.

    • Icarus does not plan for a human crew. It's all robotic.

      Also, similar to Project Daedalus on which Project Icarus builds, this is predominantly a concept to research the actual feasibility of going to another star using what science, technology, and production capability we have today as opposed to back in the 1970s.

      Project Daedalus did not plan for a reverse Oberth maneuver at the destination star, but would shoot past it. Icarus plans to achieve orbit at the destination star. Also, I do not know what acce

      • by Vrallis (33290)

        Icarus does not plan for a human crew. It's all robotic.

        Hmm I guess I missed that part. I saw the comment about completing within a human lifetime and went with the assumption from that point.

        Either way, a manned mission and colony is really the path for us to take.

  • Seriously, folks, why are we so eager to spread our dysfunction? Until we can manage the basics of sanity here on Earth, we have no business spreading to the stars. I'm not even talking about an idealised society of some kind; I'm just suggesting basic stability, justice and social order. Two thirds of the globe live in grinding misery,most of which is entirely preventable. I'd even go so far as to say that 85% of human misery is self-inflicted; the remainder is inherent in the human condition.

    By any reason

    • Dysfunction? Seriously, speak for (and get over) yourself. Sure, there are plenty of dysmal things in our history but there is greatness too, and there are men and women everywhere, poor or well-off, who are striving to be better than they are. This dream of travelling to the stars is part of that.

      On the other hand, some say that we need to spread out beyond Earth because we are so dysfunctional, and now have the capacity to destroy ourselves.
      • by Cheeko (165493)

        Additionally many have postulated that it would take going to the stars to truely put humanity in perspective and allow us to co-exist. There will always be political infighting, but going to the stars will make many of the things we squabble over seem rather minor in comparison. Additionally any generational craft like this would likely have to be a cross national mission, which has the potential to foster a more unified humanity as it progresses.

        • by lennier (44736)

          going to the stars will make many of the things we squabble over seem rather minor in comparison.

          Yes, just like going to the Moon made the last quarter of the 20th century entirely war-free.

          Mind you, since building a starship means, by definition, building a large, extremely energetic kinetic missile steered by bored people in a small can who might get extremely pissed off and not consider themselves "Earthlings" after a few generations... that would make our other troubles seem rather minor.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPn-lTytfGo [youtube.com] might help you "get it".
  • by rlp (11898) on Monday May 09, 2011 @04:30PM (#36075672)

    Icarus might want to avoid it. Just sayin' ...

  • Considering you need:
    • * sufficient population to have genetic diversity
    • * sustainable food and water for the entire trip
    • * source of materials for clothing, tools, habitat repair, etc.
    • * a source of gravity close to 1g so that life as we know it can function
    • * a protective shield that can withstand intense radiation, meteor strikes, etc.
    • * an energy source that can power the whole thing for thousands of years

    I think the smallest possible intersteller vessel is probably an Earth-like planet in orbit

  • by Deadstick (535032) on Monday May 09, 2011 @04:40PM (#36075810)

    ...after the guy responsible for the first pilot-error accident?

    Exceeded the rated service ceiling of his aircraft, inducing a thermal environment that caused primary structural debonding, and left a parabolic trail of wax, feathers and Greek obscenities into the Sea of Crete...

    rj

  • I recall hearing about a fun concept. It would use a solar sail only 2 molecules in thickness and a single chip payload weighing only a gram or two. It would be accelerated by laser to 0.25 to reach Proxima Centauri in about 17 years and beam close-up pictures home. No need to decelerate.

    Does that qualify as an interstellar mission?

  • Did they figure out how much that fuel tank is going to cost? I'm guessing about as much as the ISS.

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long

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