Fine Structure

Project Icarus: Daedalus Revisited

A couple committees are thinking hard about Project Icarus, an investigation into large, fusion-based spacecraft that would approach 12% of light speed and enable interstellar travel.

The project is a revival of a similar project, Daedalus, from the 1970s but updated to take advantage of technology pioneered in the last 40 or so years.

This particular post describes the various challenges to finding an important fuel component, Helium-3, from our neighboring planets. Jupiter and Saturn have been dropped in favor of Uranus (due to their mass and radiation belts) for atmospheric mining, though the additional distance will surely have an impact on the estimated 20-year robot-controlled process.

Despite the unlikelihood of this particular project actually becoming reality, it's important to have smart people thinking about problems like these. We will have to overcome these challenges soon enough... ]