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Sci-Fi Space Science

Using Fusion To Propel an Interstellar Probe 155

astroengine writes "We've heard of nuclear pulse propulsion being the ideal way to travel through interstellar space, but what would such a system look like? In the 1970's, the British Interstellar Society's (BIS) Project Daedalus was conceived to fire pellets of fusion fuel out the rear of an interstellar space probe that were ignited using a powerful laser system. The 'pulsed inertial confinement fusion' wouldn't be 'vastly different from a conventional internal combustion engine, where small droplets of gasoline are injected into a combustion chamber and ignited,' says Richard Obousy, Project Leader and Co-Founder of Project Icarus. Now, building on the knowledge of Daedalus, the researchers of Project Icarus have prepared a nifty animation of a fusion pulse propulsion system in operation on the original Daedalus vehicle."
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Using Fusion To Propel an Interstellar Probe

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  • Why Icarus? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chihowa ( 366380 ) * on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @11:31PM (#35740944)

    I really don't get the fascination with naming space projects after a failed attempt at flight. If there's one thing Icarus didn't do, it was "[build] on the knowledge of Daedalus!"

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Wednesday April 06, 2011 @11:52PM (#35741048)

    "Nukular" hysteria will kill it.

    Remember when we launched Cassini with a radioisotope thermo-electric generator?


    Every time I see shit like that, I want to slap people.


  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @03:00AM (#35741800)

    any fear of radiation is, to use your phrase, "Nukular" hysteria.

    Good job there of putting words in his mouth.

  • by LBU.Zorro ( 585180 ) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @06:09AM (#35742624)

    Just a question.

    Why on earth do you think that if someone doesn't relocated half way around the globe into completely different country with a different language and culture that they are a 'blowhard' and a hypocrite? (I actually had to look up blowhard, never heard that before... odd phrase). Especially when they were talking about a spacecraft launch? I mean this isn't even suggesting building a nuclear reactor, it's about a radioisotope thermal generator. Talk about projecting.

    Aren't you really exaggerating it a little? If you were being honest, and seriously looking at what you think and what you're afraid of wouldn't you admit to exaggerating a little there?

    So you're in a panic about Fukushima, awesome, but I fail to understand what this has to do with Cassini's RTG?

    Obviously radiation is radiation, so that's scary, I mean it's not like there are different types like alpha, beta etc? Or things like alpha sources, like say the Plutonium 238 on Cassini's RTG can be stopped by a few cm of air, and in fact about the only way to be harmed by it is to ingest or breath it (I suppose if one of the RTGs from it hit you in the head if the launch failed it'd harm you but that's not really radiation). Or that it's insoluble unlike the iodine you're petrified of in local produce and fish so wouldn't really get out of the soil and so there's only a tiny window in which you could possibly get a tiny amount of it into you. But obviously that's really scary and will destroy everything.

    The reason he wants to slap people who say things like


    is because it's moronic and they don't have a clue, they're afraid it will destroy the world and when it comes down to it they're petrified of cancer and death and radiation == cancer.

    People fear what they don't understand, people don't understand statistics, radiation and frankly technology and people do stupid things like try and compare a spacecraft launch like Cassini with an RTG on it with swimming inside of a nuclear reactor. Your exact response is stupid, sensationalist and not based in reality, just your fears of it. (Yeah I know, the swimming in the nuclear reactor was sensationalist, but seriously, it's a fecking tsunami hit area and you think they're on the beach swimming? Riiight, good to know your priorities)

    Also, seriously you're suggesting drinking from streams in tsunami hit areas in Japan? If you do that I'm pretty sure radiation that might cause cancer 40 years down the road is the least of your problems, ignoring the possibility of things decomposing into the water and all the bugs you'd get that way I'm also pretty sure there's a pot load of toxicity from all the rest of the stuff washed on the land, like say oil, gas, and who knows what other industrial run-off.

    As for increasing the chances of dying, yes it would, living in a tsunami hit area you're always going to have a higher chance of dying, I mean it's not the most healthy place in the world - I mean gas is carcinogenic, so any of that being around is bad and I'm pretty sure that cars didn't magically survive the wave intact, nor were their tanks empty. They don't have all the bodies removed yet, so they're going to decompose and potentially have a bunch of nasties in, things like rats are going to multiply it's just an unpleasant place to live.

    And yes, there is an increase in radiation, pretty much all of it short lived - half lives of 8 days isn't too worrying if you're careful for a month, but to be frank the highest risk to anyone there isn't from the reactor, it's from everything else. There is a small, and unmeasurable risk due to the radiation from the reactor, whilst in the individual this may translate to death it's impossible to attribute that to the radiation from the reactor - you may have just had sucky genetics, or for some reason you used an antique tritium dial watch, or you spent too long flying around, or you had gas splashed on you at some po

  • by RevWaldo ( 1186281 ) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @07:49AM (#35743064)
    They build a ship that can reach the nearest star in 100 years. Off it goes.

    25 years later, they build a ship that can make the journey in 50 years. Off it goes.

    74 and a half years later, they build a ship that can make the journey in a day.

    Hopefully there's no one in "suspended animation" or "space children" on the first two ships, otherwise they're gonna be pretty pissed off.

    This is why getting people to commit to the effort to build an interstellar probe is pretty much a non-starter. We're perfectly happy to wait for the "breakthrough breakthrough" thankyouverymuch.


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