Mathematics of Magsails

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R. M. Freeland (2015), JBIS, 68, pp.306-323

Refcode: 2015.68.306
Keywords: Project Icarus, magnetic sail, magsail, mag-sail, starship, deceleration, interstellar exploration, fusion propulsion

Project Icarus is a theoretical design study for an interstellar probe based on the landmark Project Daedalus study completed in 1978. The Project Icarus Terms of Reference [1] (ToR) specify that the probe should achieve at least some deceleration at the target system. Magnetic sails were initially proposed by Andrews and Zubrin [2] in 1988 as a potential aid to interstellar deceleration, and several papers have since been written on the subject. This paper presents the complete calculations for a magsail and evaluates suitability of the various approximations used to simplify the math. The resulting calculations are then used to model full deceleration of a magsail-equipped vessel vs. one that only uses a fusion engine.


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