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Project Longshot: An unmanned probe to Alpha CentauriA preliminary design is presented for an unmanned probe to Alpha Centauri with a planned launch early in the 21st century. The probe would be assembled at the space station and take approx. 100 yrs to reach the nearest star. Several technologies must be developed in order for this mission to be possible. A pulsed fusion microexplosion drive with 1,000,000 secs of specific impulse is the primary enabling technology. A large, long life fission reactor with 300 kW power output is also required. Communications lasers would use a 0.532 micrometer wavelength since there is minimal power output by the stars in that frequency band. A laser with an input power of 250 kW would allow for a data rate of 1000 bits per second at maximum range. There are 3 types of information to be gathered by the probe: properties of the interstellar medium, characteristics of the three star Alpha Centauri system, and astrometry.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Contractor Report (CR)
Beals, Keith A.
(Naval Academy Annapolis, MD, United States)
Beaulieu, Martin
(Naval Academy Annapolis, MD, United States)
Dembia, Frank J.
(Naval Academy Annapolis, MD, United States)
Kerstiens, Joseph
(Naval Academy Annapolis, MD, United States)
Kramer, Daniel L.
(Naval Academy Annapolis, MD, United States)
West, Jeffrey R.
(Naval Academy Annapolis, MD, United States)
Zito, James A.
(Naval Academy Annapolis, MD, United States)
Date Acquired
September 5, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1988
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.26:184718
Accession Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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