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Receiving information from a probe to Proxima Centauri in our lifetime (28.3 years) using available technology using gravity assist maneuver.

By William J. Elliott (abridged)

 

If we combine Zac Manchester’s “nanocraft” concept (a 2 gram space probe) with a propellantless propulsion the Fluid Space Drive (government startup funds recipient) and send the probe with a constant acceleration of 0.2 mps to Proxima Centauri where it will make use of a gravity assist maneuver (gravitational slingshot or swing-by) to return to solar system in 28.3 years to share its data.

 

 

The trip will be divided in 3 parts

 

1) 20 years to Proxima

2) Gravity assist maneuver (slingshot) to return to Sol without decelerating

3) 8.2 years returning to Sol.

 

The probe can be a 2 gram nanocraft as proposed by Zac Manchester at Cornell, its tiny mass will permit high velocity with a small but constant acceleration.

 

Thrust will be provided by a Fluid Space Drive, working propellantless propulsion that works by using the natural behavior of air molecules to randomize the vector (direction) of each colliding gas molecule (see), this proposal received startup funding in 2019 from the Chilean government (Corfo)

 

The power source will be a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG, RITEG)

 

Part one journey to Proxima Centauri

 

We can expect a constant acceleration of 0.2 mps, the payload (probe) will be a very small fraction of the spacecraft’s mass, most of the mass will be the RTG power source.

The spacecraft with probe will arrive at Proxima in 20.18 years with a velocity of 129,199.566 mph.

If there is a technological civilization on one of the (possible) planets they will be very nervous if they detect an accelerating object coming at them

 

Part two gravity assist maneuver (slingshot)

 

The nanocraft must have sufficient processing power to:

Detect star and orbiting planets.

Calculate course necessary for gravity assist maneuver using the gravity of Proxima star and instruct spacecraft to modify course and slingshot back to Sol.

Collect as much data as possible before proceeding to sol.

 

As the spacecraft starts its return journey with an initial velocity of approx.  129,199.566 mph, with a constant acceleration of 0.2 mps it will travel for 8.2 years with a final velocity of 160,226.9 kps. Execute a flyby in the outer solar system and transmit its data to earth where hopefully there will be somebody that remembers to listen.

 

Note: it is important that the spaceship does not try to reach planet earth because a mass of 38 kilos (the RTG power source) at that velocity will be a Relativistic Kinetic Energy weapon of mass destruction.

 

Wjetech Spa is a technological aerospace startup founded October 2019 initially funded by Corfo (Chilean economic development agency) and micro investors.