On this page is briefly described the different starship design projects that Kelvin has been involved with. He is also currently involved with studies related to antimatter catalysed fusion and also Bussard interstellar ramjets. It is difficult to say what is and is not possible in interstellar flight, if you have not at least placed yourself in the heat of the calculations and attempted design solutions.
Breakthrough Initiative Starshot
This is an initiative funded with an initial investment of $100 million by the philanthropist Yuri Milner. Its aim is to develop the technology to send a Gram-scale StarChip to the nearest stars within the next 20 years, travelling at around 20% of the speed of light. It utilises advances in advanced optics, electronics miniaturisation and has been described as the Silicon Valley approach to interstellar travel.
Many technical challenges lay ahead for Project Starshot including stability of a sail to ride successfully on a high energy laser beam, erosion of the material due to interstellar dust, interstellar navigation and communications. But all of these problems are tractable as part of a research and development program.
Laser-Beaming Andromeda Probe
Completed as a short study on a laser propelled star probe to be sent to Alpha Centauri within a 50 year mission time frame powered by 1 GW beamer travelling at a cruise speed of 0.1c.
The development of the Andromeda probe study was actually completed by the Initiative for Interstellar Studies for the Breakthrough Initiative Project Starshot.
Project Dragonfly Laser-Sail Propulsion
Kelvin's own solution to the laser beaming problem is to employ multiple sail's each connected by a local wi-fi network and each pushed off via laser light towards the stars, accepting some failures within the structure. A later beam is then reflected back off the disk structure, and via optoelectronics allows information to be returned on the carrier signal.
Project Icarus: Starship Resolution
This is a single stage fusion engine, as a successor to the BIS Project Daedalus. It also uses D/He3 fuel and will achieve a cruise velocity of around 0.05c. It decelerates fully into the target system, defined to be Alpha Centauri B and has a total propellant mass of around 25,000 tons. The engine fires with a pulse frequency of around 150 Hz and the mission is completed in around 100 years.
Project Icarus: Starship Endeavour
During 2016 the Starship Resolution design was updated to a multi-engine configuration, necessary to bring down the boost time to just a few years. It is based on the Saturn V multi-engine system. The new design is called Starship Endeavour.
Project Icarus: Leviathan
This was an earlier attempt to design a multi-mode acceleration and deceleration vehicle as a solution to the BIS Project Daedalus successor. The idea was to use lots of engineering and physics 'trick's but each traded off with each other as part of a highly optimised design. The risk with this system is the large number of failure modes.
Icarus starfinder Probe
This was the Icarus Starfinder concept, which is a scaled BIS Daedalus Starship, capable of reaching a distance of 50,000 tons. It would be powered by a small fusion engine and is the next level up from the Icarus Pathfinder mission.
Icarus Pathfinder Probe
This was the Icarus Pathfinder probe, a vehicle on the technology roadmap to full fusion vehicles. It would use an advanced form of VASIMR engine and utilise a high 100s km/s exhaust velocity, so is currently very hypothetical. It would go to a distance of 10,000 AU so well inside of the Oort cloud that surrounds our solar system. The idea is that this concept would be on the critical path to developing full fusion propulsion systems.
Enzmann World Ship
A review study into what the Enzmann (slow boat) starship really is which resulted in a published paper in JBIS after a years research effort.
Black Hole Evaporator Engine
The black hole evaporator engine works on the principle of colliding high TeV protons from the interstellar medium such that they evaporate within the gravitational radius (under the assumptions of 3+ dimensions) to release Hawking evaporation and a shower of charged particles for thrust exhaust.
Warp Drive (ftl) Engine
In 2007/2008 Kelvin was involved with the production of a documentary on warp drive propulsion. At the time he had just completed one of the worlds first formal reviews of this FTL type drive. The graphics below show representations from the film which involved a large Casimir ring to generate negative energy at the start and end of the flight, so as to accelerate and decelerate the warp bubble, which itself would become causally disconnected from its own surrounding space-time and therefore not able to control itself. Despite the best efforts it still broke many laws of physics and the engineering looked 'problematic'. But it is only by attempts like this that we can make some progress towards feasible design ideas.