We now have three teams that have qualified for the main competition! We are looking forward to welcome more teams for the main challenge!
Project Dragonfly is a feasibility study for an interstellar mission, conducted by small, distributed spacecraft, propelled primarily by laser sails. The spacecraft shall be capable of reaching the target star system within a century and be able to decelerate. We believe that such a mission can be conducted with technology available by 2024-2034 as well as a space infrastructure, available by 2050.
The competition's main objective is to identify innovative mission architectures that are feasible in terms of required technologies as well as required resources. The final design reports of the teams shall cover all areas, which are relevant for returning scientific data from such a mission: instruments, communication, laser sail design, power supply, secondary structure, deceleration propulsion etc. Furthermore, the technological as well as economic feasibility of the architecture shall be assessed by the teams.
The results from the competition shall serve as a basis for future technology development for actually realizing such a mission.
The competition will be conducted in the context of the Alpha Centauri Prize awards. The winning team will be the first to receive a newly-developed design award. A total prize purse of £1,000 has been set up.
Eligibility: Participation in the competition is currently limited to teams affiliated to a university and must predominantly consist of students and/or researchers. Non-university members can participate but must be affiliated with a university team.
Participating teams should have expertise in one or several of the following areas:
- Space mission analysis and design
- Structural mechanics
- Laser physics
- Embedded systems
- Networked systems
- Communication engineering
Design requirements: Detailed design requirements will be submitted to the teams which have successfully completed the qualification problem set. See "Application".
Design evaluation: The designs will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria (preliminary list, subject to change):
- Technical soundness: Are the physics and engineering right?
- Technological feasibility: Is it likely that the technology is available in the next 10-20 years?
- Economic feasibility: Are the resources needed for the mission reasonable? Does the design exploit synergies with future space infrastructure? Is there a reasonable chance that the mission can be conducted by 2050?
- Innovation: Are there approaches to drastically increase the scientific return of such a mission without compromising feasibility?
The designs will be evaluated by an expert jury.
Application: Please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your team's affiliation and team background (areas of study, undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate) for an initial assessment of your application. You can apply until 31 October 2014. We will then send you an initial package with further information, literature, and an initial work package. The work package has the purpose to bring all teams to the same minimum level of competence. It is a kind of crash course for the most relevant areas of the competition. Teams that have successfully completed the work package then proceed to the main competition.
Duration: The competition will run until 31 March 2015.
Andreas Hein received his Master's degree in aerospace engineering at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen and is currently working towards a PhD degree at the same university in the area of space systems engineering. He did part of his research at MIT. During his Master's, he spent a semester abroad at the Institut Superieur de l'Aeronautique et de l'Espace in Toulouse as well as at the European Space Agency's Strategy and Architecture Office, working on future lunar infrastructures. He is a recipient of a doctoral scholarship of the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD, a student member of the International Honor Society for Systems Engineering Omega Alpha Association, and a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society.
Funded by the Fulbright scholarship, Dan received his M.Sc. in Aerospace Engineering in 2013 from the Georgia Institute of Technology and is currently working towards his German diploma at the European Space Agency. His specialization is in advanced airbreathing and space propulsion systems as well as atmospheric reentry. Due to his personal interest he also has experience with systems engineering and group management. In 2013/2014 he succesfully led a team at the University of Stuttgart in the International Mars Inspiration Engineering Design Contest.
Martin is received his Masters' degree in aerospace engineering at the Technical University of Munich and is currently a PhD student at the Institute of Astronautics at the same university. His area of expertise are small satellites.
Currently qualified teams:
- University of California Santa Barbara, USA
- Technical University of Munich, Germany
- CranSEDS (University of Cranfield), UK
Advisory team: We have assembled a world-class advisory team with renowned experts in each of the relevant domains. Competition teams will have the unique opportunity to get advise and feedback from these experts.
All images: Adrian Mann