A potential spacecraft called Icarus Pathfinder would be powered by VASIMR engines, taking it out to 1,000 AU (1AU is the distance between the Earth and sun).
Obtaining the exotic fuels needed for interstellar flight is a major challenge – here a scheme is shown where a spacecraft in low orbit around Jupiter lowers an extremely long tube into the atmosphere, sucking up and processing gases.
Another spaceship fuel-mining scheme involves balloon miners in the atmosphere of Uranus, where gases would be collected and processed, and then carried to the fuelling site by smaller tanker spacecraft.
Project Icarus is currently at a very early stage and no definitive design has been selected – this illustration shows one possible candidate concept for an interstellar spacecraft.
This Icarus concept starship uses Graphene as a shield material to protect the vehicle during the voyage to another star.
Future starships may be constructed in Earth orbit using a ring-type construction facility, which could have hotel rooms where guests could observe the construction.
SKYLON SSTO Vehicle
SKYLON, a concept vehicle from Reaction Engines Ltd., is an entirely reusable single stage-to-orbit launch vehicle, based on revolutionary engine technology.
SKYLON Conept Vehicle
The Skylon concept vehicle consists of a slender fuselage containing propellant tankage and payload bay, with delta wings attached midway along the fuselage carrying the SABRE engines in axisymmetric nacelles on the wingtips. The vehicle takes off and lands horizontally on its own undercarriage.
SKYLON Concept Vehicle
The SKYLON concept spaceship payload bay can be used for a wide variety of missions, and can carry up to 16.5 tons to low-Earth orbit.
The SKYLON concept vehicle payload bay can be used for a wide variety of missions, and can carry up to 16.5 tons to low-Earth orbit.
Get the Space.com Newsletter
Breaking space news, the latest updates on rocket launches, skywatching events and more!