Project Daedalus

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Although the Alpha Centauri system is closer, evidence available at the time now considered unreliable suggested that Barnard's Star might be orbited by at least one planet. To reach Barnard's Star in 50 years the flight time allotted in the study , a spacecraft would need to cruise at about 12 percent of the speed of light , or 36, kilometers per second. This being far beyond the scope of a chemical rocket, the Daedalus team had to consider less conventional alternatives.

The design they chose was a form of nuclear-pulse rocket , a propulsion system that had already been investigated during Project Orion.

Earth Used to Have 19-Hour Days (and Pluto Has Dunes!)

However, whereas Orion would have employed nuclear fission , the Daedalus engineers opted to power their starship by nuclear fusion — in particular, by a highly-efficient technique known as internal confinement fusion. Small pellets, containing a mixture of deuterium and helium-3, would be bombarded, one at a time, in the spacecraft's combustion chamber by electron beams and thereby caused to explode like miniature thermonuclear bombs.

A powerful magnetic field would both confine the explosions and channel the resulting high-speed plasma out of the rear of the spacecraft to provide thrust.

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By detonating pellets a second, and utilizing a two-stage approach, the desired cruising speed could be reached during an acceleration phase lasting four years. Daedalus would be constructed in Earth orbit and have an initial mass of 54, tons, including 50, tons of fuel and tons of scientific payload.

Producing partners

The first stage shown left would be fired for two years, taking the spacecraft to 7. Then the second stage would fire for 1. Since the design made no provision for deceleration upon arrival, Daedalus would carry 18 autonomous probes, equipped with artificial intelligence, to investigate the star and its environs.

The meter diameter engine of the second stage would double as a communications dish. The potential of nuclear power as a propulsion mechanism that would allow for interstellar flight has been recognized since the first half of the 20th century.

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Icarus Interstellar

The idea behind Project Orion is to detonate a nuclear charge at some distance from a vehicle. The detonation creates an expanding plasma wave which transfers momentum to the vehicle by hitting a pusher plate.

This detonation process is repeated, and the rocket achieves thrust. But what is here is quite important to the overall plot of the season. After navigating a tricky minefield and after a wonderful bit of impromptu teamwork by most of the bridge crew , Airiam, along with Burnham and Nhan Rachael Ancheril , are sent onboard Section 31 headquarters to try and get Control the AI that does threat assessment for Section 31 working for Admiral Cornwell Jayne Brook again.

Now that we know more about Airiam and her journey from human to augment, and all the painful emotions in between, she seems like a prime contender for the expanded universe treatment, like a comic or novel. That also would have made her death more impactful for hardcore fans. This leads to some memorable lines that help explain Spock and his relationships, including the tenuous relationship with his father.

He also lays into Burnham pretty hard, calling out her involvement in the Klingon War and the night her parents were killed.

The 'Star Trek: Discovery' Crew Tries to Infiltrate Section 31's HQ in 'Project Daedalus'

But what is more surprising is that Control is trying to gain consciousness, the outcome of which Spock believes will lead to the end of all life in the galaxy. However, Control continues to be an off-screen presence, making it hard for the audience to feel any attachment to the problem at hand.


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It would have been great if we actually saw the entity that is Control in this episode, but alas, the wait continues.

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