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Limitless Space Institute announces inaugural Interstellar Initiative Grants awards

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 below with possible mission applications identified:

SELECTIONS

Brian K Kelly

Brian Kelly retired from NASA in February 2019 after a career of over 37 years.  As Director, Flight Operations at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) he directed a diverse civil service, military, and contractor workforce of over 2400 employees and a total annual budget of $500m.  He was responsible for selecting and assigning NASA astronauts and planning, training, and flying human spaceflight and aviation missions.  He directed the Astronaut Office, Mission Control, Aircraft Operations and Aviation Safety at NASA JSC.  Over his career he supported 110 shuttle missions, 58 International Space Station Expeditions, 40 shuttle launches, and 35 Soyuz Launches as well as return to flight efforts following the Challenger and Columbia accidents.  He selected 12 new astronaut candidates from over 18,000 applicants and selected the first female Chief Flight Director and 11 new Flight Directors for Mission Control Operations.  While Director of Flight Operations he was responsible for 35 EVAs (space walks), 15 International Space Station Expeditions, over 2.5 million mission control commands to the International Space Station, and the assignment of 33 astronauts to Expedition and Commercial Crew Flight Test missions.  He directed over 13,000 flight hours composed of 18,000 sorties in 32 different aircraft.  He personally has flown over 250 flight hours in T-38N super-sonic jet training aircraft and over 63,000 feet in WB-57 high altitude research aircraft.

Kam Ghaffarian

Dr. Kam Ghaffarian is a visionary entrepreneur dedicated to creating companies that focus on operating with the highest integrity, promoting employee well-being, and delivering the best technical solutions to customers. Kam co-founded Axiom Space in 2016 to advance the commercial utilization of space eventually leading to the design, manufacture, launch and operation of a commercial space station. Kam started his entrepreneurial career in 1994 by founding Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies, Inc. (SGT), a government services company focusing on Engineering, IT, Science Applications, and Mission Operations. SGT has become NASA’s second largest engineering services provider, employing over 2,400 people and generating annual revenues of approximates $500M. Prior to SGT, Kam held numerous technical and management positions at Lockheed Martin, Ford Aerospace, and Loral, among others. Dr. Ghaffarian holds a B.S. in Computer Science, a B.S. in Electronics Engineering, a M.Sc. in Information Management, and a Ph.D in Management Information Systems.

Board of directors

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Amanda Lee

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Adam Cheise

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Mike Stuart

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Advisory Board

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Amanda Lee

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Adam Cheise

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Mike Stuart

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Mike Stuart

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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

Origami Photonic Crystal Sail fabrication and test (STRATEGIC): development and demonstration of scalable large-aspect-ratio origami 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.

…GO INCREDIBLY FAST…

For more information, see https://www.limitlessspace.org/programs

Email Contact: jan@limitlessspace.org