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Submitted on
March 3, 2008
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Project Daedalus by BlikjeBier Project Daedalus by BlikjeBier
Project Daedalus was a study from the British planetary society in 1973 to design a plausible interstellar unmanned spacecraft. The design had to use current or near-future technology and reach its destination within a human lifespan (50-60 years), however the probe was to be unmanned.

The target then choosen was Barnards star at 6 lightyears because it was then believed that it had at least one large planet, until this day this planet has not been found while we know at least 300 other so called exo-planets. The closest star we know today that has planets is Epsilon Eridani, at 10.5 lightyears away a sure target for future exploration.

The original plan called for an orbital assembly of the spaceship, but at an whopping 55000 tons this is quite an starship, for example you would need almost 2000 Spaceshuttle launches to lift al the materials and fuel from earth, to make matters worse, the main component of the fuel would be Helium-3, something of wich we have very little on Earth. The moon has more and there is even more to be found in the atmosphere of Jupiter.

Building Daedalus
The two stages will be build in orbit around the moon, an small amount of helium-3 will be used to launch the first and the second stage towards Jupiter where an extensive mining-operation in the atmosphere of Jupiter will provide for the necessary 50.000 tons of helium-3 for the trip towards Epsilon Eridani.

About the picture:
Ooohh shudder, it has been done with Bryce, yup, Bryce is cheap and in the right hands you can still make stunning pieces of art with it.

The model in this picture has been modelled completely within Bryce, usually downloaded models don't fit right in the scene so i am better of making those myself, wich also adds to your own flavour.
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Airman12 Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I like it. In a few years, people will leave the Solar System with this spacecraft.
qraal Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2010
Hi Blikje
I'm from "Project Icarus", the sequel to "Daedalus", and your rendering is amazing. We're collecting a gallery of "Daedalus" art and we're interested in anything else you've worked on along this theme. One of the other "Icarus" team will probably contact you shortly.
CUTANGUS Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
It's a wonderful masterpiece of space Art!
Project Daedalus is always the reference in "plausible" interstellar spacecraft design.

(I do not know how Epsilon Eridani is rated between the exoplanets; I still hoped that we can discover planets around the nearer double/triple system of Alpha/Proxima Centauri).
Eagle1Division Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Binary, especially trinary systems are very unstable. Add to that the fact that any planet in the habitable zone would have to be very close to the binary stars, and you'll find it's nigh impossible for a planet to be there.

But... Hey. If we're capable of making that 4 LY journey, our tech will be up there to where a 12 LY journey won't be a big deal in comparison... So I hope :P

Actually, I almost wonder if we won't go into manned interstellar flight until a huge breakthrough is made, such as a hyperspace drive or something that would allow traveling huge distances in tiny amounts of time. Because, even going ~.99 c, 12 years is a long time, never mind the gargantuan engine, waste heat, mass ratio and other performance requirements for going that speed... The best conceivable engines would get you no more than ~ 0.48c, and even they produce an unholy amount of waste heat and involve thousands of tons of antimatter, which requires an unholy amount of energy to make...

But physics is pretty advanced. Whenever they make some breakthrough like this is at the roll of dice. Maybe we'll live to see the day :)
Fastmax Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2009
Wow!! I remember this space craft concept from the late '70's. Boy,.. is this image in the wrong area at DA, being under "Miscellaneous", -should be Vehicles/ "Futuristic".
Peebo-Thulhu Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2009
Awesome art. Don't forget Orion!

That idea could lift the mass from earth surface easy. Plus, as noted on this site,


If you do it from the south pole the radiation (Note for a ground launch) would escape due to the Van Allen belts not keeping the stuff in.

Just ideas. The dream of space still burns. :)

Marrekie Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2008
Fantastisch gedaan. Prachtig resultaat. Herkende het schip direct toen ik er voorbij surfde! Het is al vele jaren terug dat ik dit ontwerp voor het eerst zag. het idee heeft me altijd gefascineerd.
GeneralZadrek Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2008
Noo! Why always unmanned ships?? I want to see humans in space... Well, I guess unmanned ship is better than no ship at all. I wonder how long will it take from Humankind to reach the stars, or if we ever do that.
SMPritchard Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
With all of the additional mass you need to haul to support a human in space for long periods of time, you quickly get very ugly mass ratios for your ship. Realistically, the best way to colonize other star systems is to send seed ships. These ships would be small, maybe about the size of Cassini, perhaps the size of this design here (Daedalus, and the recent follow-up study Icarus). When the probe arrives, it (after dispensing smaller science probes throughout the system) then lands probes onto the surface of the target planet (most likely a habitable Earth-like world). These landers would have autofactories in them, capable of building larger assemblers. Eventually, a large factory infrastructure is set up, built entirely by the probe with the resources around it, that builds everything the colony will need, from generators, living spaces, transportation, etc. After the initial infrastructure is built, the probe then thaws out it's cargo of frozen embryos and "grows" the first generation of colonists, who will be raised by AI guardians (more probably uploaded minds more so than AI in the traditional sense. Also, they would be able to download into physical "bio-robotic" bodies at will). After that, more of the embryos are thawed out, etc etc, until you have a fledgling civilization. It's how life has done it here; from tiny single-celled organisms coating the shoes (the first life on the surface, out of the ocean) sprung a huge ecosystem of surface life. It's repeating what nature has already done (in MUCH less time).

This method is simply cheaper, safer, and more practical. While it lacks the romanticism of fearless humans bravely flying out into the void on a massive interstellar rocket, quite frankly I don't think that's the way to go. We'll get there, but until we find a better method of space travel than rockets, we probably won't be sending living humans (well, living biological humans. And no, that's not redundant.)
Eagle1Division Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Technically that's incorrect... A larger mass doesn't mean a larger mass ratio, it just means a larger mass, proportionally. The natural logarithm comes into play when considering the ratio in-between fuel mass and vehicle mass, so if you 2x vehicle mass, you also 2x fuel mass for any given Delta-Vee. It's if you want 2x the Delta-Vee that you have to more than double the Mass Ratio, not if you double the vehicle mass.

Also, I think this kind of idea, as popular as it is, is very unrealistic... By the time that level of technology comes about, I think we'll be well past some sort of FTL travel as proposed by Froning (see comment below), something that radically changes spaceflight. That's the time to really head to the stars. But even before then, a conceivable vehicle can be built with thousands of cryonically frozen colonists, that would weigh many thousands of tons and could make the journey to Tau Ceti or Eps. Eridani in ~70 years. (Based on a mass ratio ~26 (possible for non-aerodynamic vehicle) with staging fuel tanks, Magnetically Confined Fusion rockets, achieving maximum potential with magnetic mirrors and positive energy output fusion reaction. Technology not more than 50 or 100 years distant.)

But if you don't want to wait for positive output fusion engines and the space engine tech, all you'd have to do is scale up something like Daedalus or Longshot. The tech is already there, you just have to proportionally scale the entire thing up so that the payload mass includes at least several hundred frozen colonists and the bare minimum to start an infrastructure.

IMO, this is far more appealing than sending a few embryos and computers out there to start from scratch again. Such a society would be culturally, linguistically, and ethically unidentifiable to our own, which also creates serious ethical concerns, especially having humans being raised by machines in a system we aren't capable of travelling to and back.
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