Project Dragonfly: sail to the stars

Häfner, T., Kushwaha, M., Celik, O. and Bellizzi, F. (2019) Project Dragonfly: sail to the stars. Acta Astronautica, 154, pp. 311-319. (doi: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2018.05.018)

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This paper aims to assess the feasibility of an interstellar mission to reach the Alpha Centauri star system and delivering scientific data, using current and near-future technology. The mission baseline uses 100 GW of laser power to accelerate a spacecraft of 2750 kg to 5% the speed of light with light sail technology, resulting in a travel time of about a century. This paper explores several aspects of the mission: Possible locations of the laser infrastructure and different sail materials to achieve the required acceleration are discussed. Deceleration using a magnetic sail in the interstellar medium and in the heliosphere of the target star, taking into account mathematical models from Zubrin [6], Freeman [22] and Gros [21], is studied. Potential orbits in the star system are considered for observation and data collection. Finally, a multi-spacecraft mission architecture is presented, as it would allow for the spacecraft to be launched sequentially, thus exploiting the possibility of continuously operating the laser infrastructure.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Celik, Dr Onur
Authors: Häfner, T., Kushwaha, M., Celik, O., and Bellizzi, F.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Systems Power and Energy
Journal Name:Acta Astronautica
ISSN (Online):1879-2030
Published Online:08 May 2018

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