Infrastructure Development Leading to the First Long-Duration Interstellar Probe
Long-duration interstellar probes — like the Z-pinch fusion-powered Firefly vessel developed through Project Icarus — would benefit significantly from the use of He3 as a fuel additive, yet He3 is almost completely non-existent in the inner Solar System. Moreover, the mass of deuterium required for these probes presents significant cost and environmental-impact concerns if sourced from Earth. Several authors have proposed strategies for mining He3 and deuterium from the outer gas giants, but what’s needed is a plan that leads directly from our current infrastructure to the infrastructure needed for interstellar exploration.
A clear path can be described linking our current infrastructure to that needed for efficient, long-duration exploration of nearby stellar systems. This serves as a plausible, efficient road map for interstellar exploration that major space agencies might consider actually funding.