Journal article Open Access

Project Icarus: Designing a Fusion Powered Interstellar Probe

Swinney, R.W.; Freeland II, R.M.; Lamontagne, M.

Project Icarus is a design project to show it is possible to conceive of a credible interstellar craft to reach nearby stars such as Alpha Centauri using the power of fusion, giving reduced trip times and larger payloads. This paper describes some of the project in terms of the programme, and it outlines one of the project's key design variants (``Firefly") using it to illustrate how the designing progressed and some of its key features and design considerations. Multiple theoretical means of achieving fusion and the different potential fuels gave rise to several other designs highlighted here too, making it currently difficult to down select a `best option'. Nevertheless, this paper will describe several potential interstellar fusion designs. Further it will show that the work has helped revitalise the subject of potential interstellar missions, not only in terms of designs, but also organisations and people. The primary source of information on this project is already published in papers submitted to the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. However, the final report is still to be finished and only then might it be judged how well the project met the original aims, although some indication is given here.

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