Limitless Space Institute announces inaugural Interstellar Initiative Grants awards

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Limitless Space Institute is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire and educate the next generation to travel beyond our solar system and to research and develop enabling technologies.

To that end, the single most important performance metric to enable bold human exploration of the outer solar system and the stars is the ability to GO INCREDIBLY FAST to any destination. This requires significant advances in performance characteristics of spacecraft power and propulsion systems. To support this bold objective, the Limitless Space Institute (LSI) initiated the Interstellar Initiatives Grants (I2G) to support the critical R&D of advanced power and propulsion approaches.

LSI has completed the proposal review process for this initial grant cycle and is selecting 9 proposals as the inaugural class of the I2G. These funded proposals will focus on topics such as maturing beamed energy propulsion, developing relativistic-capable solar sails, exploring new fusion propulsion approaches, conducting fundamental physics research on the vacuum that may enable spacedrives, and optimization of wormhole energy requirements and topology.

These awards are categorized as either tactical grants (≤$100k) or strategic grants (≤$250k), with the former focused on research papers and the latter on laboratory testing. The period of performance for the grants is expected to be 12 months in duration, with a start date by the end of September 2020. The selections are listed here with possible mission applications identified:

Directed Energy for Revolutionary Space Propulsion and Power Projection (STRATEGIC): Modular and scalable directed energy approach with propulsion applications ranging from rapid solar system missions to the first relativistic missions capable of robotic interstellar flight | Phil Lubin, University of California, Davis
*BEAMED POWER; supports human exploration of outer solar system, interstellar

Centrifugal Confinement Direct-Drive Fusion Propulsion (TACTICAL): Uses axial loss cone alphas from centrifugally confined D-T fusion plasma to directly generate RF electrical power upstream and to heat bypass propellant flow downstream for variable thrust and high specific impulse | Ray Sedwick, University of Maryland
*FUSION POWER/PROPULSION; rapid human exploration of outer solar system, interstellar

Exploration of Pulsed Breakeven Fusion at 100 kJ Energy for Breakthrough Propulsion (STRATEGIC): An experimental and three dimensional numerical investigation of fusion yield for near solid density lithium deuteride stabilized by a rising current | Jason Cassibry, University of Alabama, Huntsville
*FUSION POWER/PROPULSION; rapid human exploration of outer solar system, interstellar

HELIOS-X: Inertial Confinement Fusion Code for Advanced Space Propulsion (TACTICAL): a system integrated programming design tool for the purpose of calculating spacecraft mission profile and propulsion performance for inertial confinement fusion driven designs | Kelvin Long, Interstellar Research Centre; Stellar Engines UK
*FUSION POWER/PROPULSION; rapid human exploration of outer solar system, interstellar

Development of a Physics-based Model for a High-Power Peristaltic Magnetic Nozzle [enabling fusion propulsion] (TACTICAL): An advanced magnetic compression system to increase the performance of a compact ultra-scalable fusion engine for fast space travel | Setthivoine You, HelicitySpace, California; Caltech; University of Maryland, Baltimore County
*FUSION POWER/PROPULSION; rapid human exploration of outer solar system, interstellar

Photonic Crystal Sail fabrication and test (STRATEGIC): development and demonstration of scalable large-aspect-ratio photonic crystal nanoscale membranes with large-bandwidth high reflectivity, low optical absorption, and high strength | Richard Norte, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
*SAIL; interstellar probe

Assessing the viability of vacuum-based propulsion with hydrodynamic quantum field theory (TACTICAL): Properties of the vacuum are probed from a new theoretical perspective inspired by a macroscopic pilot-wave system | John Bush, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
*SPACEDRIVE/PROPULSION; rapid human exploration of outer solar system, interstellar

Asymmetric Potential Vacuum Fluctuation Forces (TACTICAL): Generate propellantless propulsion forces from quantum vacuum fluctuations by engineering the direct interaction between nanostructure potentials and the vacuum | Charles Chase, UnLab, Washington, DC; Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
*SPACEDRIVE/PROPULSION; rapid human exploration of outer solar system, interstellar

Traversable Wormholes: A Road to Interstellar Exploration: Establish whether introducing modifications of the Casimir energy can produce a Traversable Wormhole (TW) of an appropriate size that could be used for interstellar travel | Remo Garattini, University of Bergamo, Italy
*WARP/WORMHOLE; rapid interstellar

Collaborations: The Breakthrough Initiatives organization has graciously agreed to cover the travel costs for PI participation, venue arrangement, and live webcasts for the Kickoff, Midterm, and Symposium meetings. Additionally, Texas A&M University Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) has graciously agreed to serve in the role of contract administration and enforcement for the grants, and will serve as the funding conduit through which LSI will administer the grant funds. LSI expresses its deep gratitude to Breakthrough Initiatives and TEES for leaning in with LSI to help conduct LSI’s Interstellar Initiative Grants effort.

It is LSI’s vision that by establishing the Interstellar Initiative Grants, and by conducting these grant awards on a biennial cycle, LSI will help grow and mature the capabilities of the interstellar research community, and make measured progress towards the goal of one day enabling interstellar flight.

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