Sons and Daughters of the Planet Blue
Soar upward, disturbing the stars of peace.
The way to interstellar space is adjusted
For satellites, rockets, scientific stations.
A Russian guy was flying in a rocket,
I saw the whole earth from above.
Gagarin was the first in space.
How do you account for it?
In 1973, the working group of the British Interplanetary Society proceeded to design the appearance of an interstellar spacecraft capable in unmanned mode to overcome 6 light years and to conduct a brief study of the Barnard star neighborhoods.
The fundamental difference between the British project and the works of science fiction was the original design conditions: in their work, British scientists relied solely on real-life technologies or technologies of the near future, the imminent appearance of which is beyond doubt. The fantastic “anti-gravity”, the unknown “teleportation” and “superlight engines” were rejected as exotic and obviously impossible ideas.
Under the terms of the project, the developers had to abandon even the photon engine that was popular at the time. Despite the theoretical possibility of the existence of a substance annihilation reaction, even the most courageous physicists who regularly experiment with hallucinogenic cannabinoids cannot explain how to put into practice the storage of “antimatter” and how to collect the released energy.
The project received the symbolic name "Daedalus" - in honor of the eponymous hero of the Greek myth, who managed to fly over the sea, in contrast to the high-flying Icarus.
The meaning of the project "Daedalus":
Proof of the possibility of mankind creating an unmanned spacecraft for the study of star systems closest to the Sun.
Technical side of the project:
A study from the flight trajectory of the Barnard star system (red dwarf of spectral class М5V at a distance of 5,91 light years, one of the closest to the Sun and, at the same time, the “fastest” star in the sky, perpendicular to the direction of the earth observer’s view is 90 km / c, which, coupled with a relatively “close” distance, makes “Flying Barnard” a real “comet”). The choice of goal was determined by the theory of the existence of a planetary system in Barnard's star (the theory was subsequently refuted). In our time, the “reference target” is the star Proxima Centauri (the 4,22 distance from the year) nearest the Sun.
Terms of the project:
Unmanned spaceship. Only realistic technologies of the near future. Maximum flight time to a star - 49 years! According to the terms of the project “Daedalus”, those who created the interstellar ship, should have had the opportunity to learn the results of the mission during their lifetime. In other words, to get to Barnard's star in 49 years, a spaceship will need a marching speed of the order of 0,1 speed of light.
In the presence of British scientists was quite impressive "set" of all the modern achievements of human civilization: nuclear technology, uncontrolled thermonuclear reaction, lasers, plasma physics, manned space launches to near-earth orbit, technology docking and assembly work of large objects in outer space, long-range systems space communications, microelectronics, automation and precision engineering. Is it enough to “touch your hand” to the stars?
Not far here - one stop by taxi
Crowded with sweet dreams and pride in the achievements of the human mind, the reader is already running to buy a ticket for an interstellar ship. Alas, his joy is premature. The universe has prepared its terrifying response to the pitiful attempts of humans to reach the nearest stars.
If you reduce the size of a star, similar to the Sun, to the size of a tennis ball, the entire Solar System will fit in Red Square. The dimensions of the Earth, in this case, are generally reduced to the size of a grain of sand.
At the same time, the nearest "tennis ball" (Proxima Centauri) will lie in the middle of Alexanderplatz in Berlin, and a little more distant Barnard star - on Piccadilly Circus in London!
Monstrous distances question the very idea of interstellar flights. The Voyager 1 automatic station, launched in 1977, took 35 years to cross the solar system (the probe went beyond its limits 25 August 2012 - the last echoes of the solar wind melted past the stern, while the intensity galactic radiation). On the flight of "Red Square" took 35 years. How much time will Voyager take, what to fly “from Moscow to London”?
Around us are quadrillions of kilometers of the black abyss - do we have a chance to reach the nearest star in at least half of the earth's century?
I'll send a ship for you ...
Nobody had any doubts that “Daedalus” would have monstrous dimensions - only the “payload” could reach hundreds of tons. In addition to relatively light astrophysical instruments, detectors and television cameras, a rather large compartment of control of the ship’s systems, a computer center, and most importantly a communications system with the Earth is needed on board the ship.
Modern radio telescopes have tremendous sensitivity: the transmitter of the Voyager 1 apparatus, astronomical units at 124 distance (124 times farther than from Earth to the Sun), has a total power of 23 Watt - less light bulb in your refrigerator. Surprisingly, this was enough to ensure uninterrupted communication with the device at a distance of 18,5 billion kilometers! (a prerequisite is that the position of the Voyager in space is known to the nearest 200 meters)
Barnard's star is at a distance of 5,96 light years from the Sun - 3000 times farther than Voyager Station. Obviously, in this case, the 23-watt interceptor is indispensable - an incredible distance and considerable error in determining the position of the starship in space will require a radiation power of hundreds of kilowatts. With all the ensuing requirements for the dimensions of the antenna.
British scientists have named a very definite figure: the payload of the Daedal spaceship (the mass of the control compartment, scientific instruments and communication systems) will be about 450 tons. For comparison, the mass of the International Space Station to date has exceeded 417 tons.
The mass of the necessary payload of a starship lies in realistic limits. In addition, given the progress in microelectronics and space technologies over the past 40 years, this figure may slightly decrease.
Engine and fuel. Extreme energy consumption of interstellar flights becomes a key barrier to the implementation of such expeditions.
British scientists adhered to simple logic: Which of the methods of energy generation known to us is the most productive? The answer is obvious - thermonuclear fusion. Are we able to create a stable "fusion reactor" today? Alas, no, all attempts to create a "controlled thermonuclear" fail. Conclusion? We'll have to use an explosive reaction. The spaceship "Daedalus" turns into a "fire up" with a pulsed thermonuclear rocket engine.
The principle of operation in theory is simple: “targets” from a frozen mixture of deuterium and helium-3 are fed into the working chamber. The “target” is warmed up by a pulse of lasers — a tiny thermonuclear explosion follows — and, voila, the release of energy to accelerate the ship!
The calculation showed that for effective acceleration of the “Daedalus” it will be necessary to produce 250 explosions per second - therefore, targets must be fed into the combustion chamber of a pulsed fusion engine with a speed of 10 km / s!
This is pure fiction - in reality, there is not a single workable sample of a pulsed thermonuclear engine. Moreover, the unique characteristics of the engine and the high demands on its reliability (the starship's engine must run continuously for 4 years) make talking about a starship a meaningless history.
On the other hand, in the design of a pulsed thermonuclear engine there is not a single element that has not been tested in practice - superconducting solenoids, lasers of enormous power, electron guns ... this has long been mastered by industry and often brought to mass production. We have a developed theory and rich practical developments in the field of plasma physics - it’s just a matter of creating a pulse engine based on these systems.
The estimated mass of the spacecraft design (engine, tanks, trusses bearing) - 6170 tons, excluding fuel. In principle, the figure sounds realistic. No tenths and countless zeros. To deliver such a number of metal structures to a low near-earth orbit would require the “total” 44 launch of the powerful Saturn-5 rocket (140 tons payload with a launch mass of 3000 tons).
Until now, these figures theoretically fit into the capabilities of modern industry, although they required some development of modern technologies. The time has come to ask the main question: what is the required mass of fuel for acceleration of a starship to the speed of light 0,1? The answer sounds scary, and at the same time, encouraging - 50 000 tons of nuclear fuel. Despite the seeming improbability of this figure, this is “only” half of the displacement of the American atomic aircraft carrier. Another thing is that modern astronautics is not yet ready to work with such bulky structures.
But the main problem was another: the main component of the fuel for a pulsed thermonuclear engine is the rare and expensive isotope Helium-3. The current production of helium-3 does not exceed 500 kg per year. At the same time, you need to pour 30 000 tons of this specific substance into the tanks of “Daedalus”.
No comments - such an amount of helium-3 on Earth is not to be found. "British scientists" (this time you can deservedly put the expression in quotation marks) suggested building a "Daedalus" in Jupiter’s orbit and filling it there, extracting fuel from the upper cloud layer of a giant planet.
Pure futuristic, multiplied by the absurd.
Despite the overall disappointing picture, the project “Daedalus” showed that the existing scientific knowledge is enough to send an expedition to the nearest stars. The problem lies in the scale of the work - we have working samples of “Tokamak”, superconducting electromagnets, cryostats and Dewar vessels under ideal laboratory conditions, but we don’t have any idea how their hypertrophied copies weighing hundreds of tons will work. How to ensure the continuous operation of these fantastic structures for many years - all this in the brutal conditions of open space, without any possibility of repair and maintenance by man.
Working on the shape of the Daedalus spaceship, scientists faced with many small, but no less important problems. In addition to the already mentioned doubts about the reliability of a pulsed thermonuclear engine, the creators of the interstellar spacecraft faced the problem of balancing a giant spacecraft, its proper acceleration and orientation in space. There were also positive moments - in the 40 years that have passed since the beginning of work on the Daedalus project, the problem with the digital computing complex on board the ship was successfully solved. The colossal progress in microelectronics, nanotechnology, the emergence of substances with unique characteristics - all this significantly simplified the conditions for creating a starship. Also, the problem of remote space communications was successfully solved.
But still no solution has been found to the classical problem - the safety of the interstellar expedition. At 0,1 speed from the speed of light, any speck of dust becomes a dangerous obstacle for the ship, and a tiny meteorite the size of a flash drive can be the end of the whole expedition. In other words, the ship has every chance to burn before it gets to the target. In theory, two solutions are proposed: the first "line of defense" is a protective cloud of microparticles, held by a magnetic field a hundred kilometers ahead of the ship's course. The second “line of defense” is a metal, ceramic or composite shield to reflect fragments of disintegrated meteorites. If everything is more or less clear with the shield design, then even Nobel Prize in Physics doesn’t know how to put into practice the “protective cloud of microparticles” at a considerable distance from the ship. It is clear that with the help of a magnetic field, but how exactly ...
... The ship sails in icy emptiness. 50 years have passed since he left the solar system and the long road stretched six light-years behind the Daedalus. Safely crossed the dangerous Kuiper belt and the mysterious Oort cloud, fragile instruments survived the flow of galactic rays and the brutal cold of the Cosmos ... Soon the planned rendezvous with the Barnard star system ... but what does this chance meeting in the middle of the boundless ocean star promise the envoy of the distant Earth? New hazards from colliding with large meteorites? Magnetic fields and deadly radiation belts in the vicinity of "traveling Barnard"? Unexpected emissions from protractors? Time will tell ... "Daedalus" in two days will rush past the star and disappear forever in the vastness of Space.