Intermediate Beamers for Starshot: Probes to the Sun's Inner Gravity Focus

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J. Benford et al. (2019), JBIS, 72, pp.51-55

Refcode: 2019.72.51
Keywords: Beam-driven sails, Starshot, Microwave beam, Laser beam, Millimeter-wave beam, Solar gravitational focus, Interstellar

The Starshot technology development program will build a modular Beamer system that will incrementally achieve steadily higher launch speeds. We examine what an intermediate-level Starshot Beamer system would be like and the relative merits of Beamer technologies in nearer-term missions. We quantify one such intermediate destination for robotic probes, the Sun’s Inner Gravity Focus. A constellation of such probes would each see a “pixel” of the image plane. We describe cost-minimized Beamers driving probes to ~100km/sec using laser, millimeter-wave and microwave sources and antennas/ optics. Such systems would cost of roughly $1 billion at present costs. Substantial progress on driving down laser and/ or millimeter-wave costs is essential to near-term system cost reductions. Power density in the sail varies substantially among the Beamers, with lasers giving the lowest sail temperatures.

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