Though Voyager is now leaving the solar system and as such may be considered the first starship, this was not the original intent or mission of that craft. Starship Ark, also a robotic mission, is being launched with the goal of targeting an Earth-like planet orbiting another star. The destination has yet to be determined, but if the discovery of new planets continues at the current pace, it is likely several choices will be available before the launch.
Dr. Vincent Teofilo, retired Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company Power Systems Technical Fellow and distinguished member of the Space Colony Earth board of advisors, will be presenting a paper at the 2012 100-Year Starship Public Symposium being held in Houston, Texas this September. Dr. Teofilo’s paper proposes a Conceptual Starship Ark design to carry digital information and DNA archives to solar system bodies, and extra-solar planets of interest. The use of currently available nuclear fission with thermal and electric propulsion technologies, and waste heat conversion and management should be available for a mission launch after 2020.
“The development of space nuclear power and propulsion brought me to Lockheed Martin in 1983,” Dr. Teofilo said. “Until now no space programs have had the mission requirements which can only be met by the use a high power nuclear reactor to heat a hydrogen gas as a high thrust propellant and provide electric power for a high efficient ion thruster.”
One such propulsion system being considered is a Helicon Injected Inertial Plasma Electrostatic Rocket (HIIPER) being developed by Dr. George Miley, Professor Emeritus of Nuclear, Plasma and Radiological Engineering and Electrical/Computer Engineering Departments at the University of Illinois. Dr. Miley states that “the HIIPER drive is a hybrid of current ion drive technology and is capable of achieving speeds magnitudes beyond any previous spacecraft.”
Starship Ark is part of a plan to secure the future of Earth recently announced by Space Colony Earth, an Illinois corporation. “This is the final piece of the puzzle,” said Steve Lynch, founder. “We know it will take thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of years to reach our destination. How long is not important. What is important is that there will be a complete record of mankind, and the DNA of our planet, as part of cosmic history. If our efforts can help advance the technology for a future manned interstellar mission, so much the better.”
The Living ARKhives portion of the Earth ARKhives is planned to include the DNA of people from every country on Earth. “I may be a bit of an idealist,” said Lynch,“but we want this mission to be about all humanity.”
Application to be included in the Living ARKhives may be made on the Family ARKhive page at SpaceColonyEarth.com/.