Study of Daedalus Interstellar Spacecraft Reaction Chamber and Thrust Structure

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S. K. Reddy et al. (2015), JBIS, 68, pp.33-43

Refcode: 2015.68.33
Keywords: Project Daedalus, Project Icarus, Interstellar, Spacecraft Structural

Project Daedalus was the 1978 trade study that proved the feasibility of space travel utilizing fusion-based propulsion (Inertial Confinement Fusion). This paper analyzes some of the key structural aspects of the Daedalus spacecraft, in particular, the reaction chamber and thrust structure that is integral to the Daedalus spacecraft, which supports the loads resulting from the fusion reactions. First, the reaction chamber is studied computationally in terms of static loading and vibrational characteristics utilizing the finite element method. Next, a proposed bracing system is integrated into the reaction chamber and the effects are studied. Lastly, the field coils with their supporting truss structure are added to the assembly. Concepts are introduced for actuators and course-correction mechanisms that ensure the spacecraft maintains the required trajectory to rendezvous with the target system. Present-day materials and manufacturing considerations are explored based on the assumptions made in the Daedalus study. Testing, qualification, and assembly of the spacecraft are also discussed. This paper is a summary of the first author's Master's Thesis at Rutgers University.

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