That whole American Revolution thing is water under the bridge for two forward-looking spacefaring organizations. In a joint venture between the Tau Zero Foundation, a private American advanced space propulsion charity, and the British Interplanetary Society, a spacecraft known as Project Icarus has taken shape.
So, what exactly is Project Icarus? To put it simply, Icarus is an outgrowth of the 1973-1978 interstellar mission study spearheaded by the British Interplanetary Society called Project Daedalus. In Daedalus, details of how to achieve a flyby mission to nearby Barnard’s Star were worked out, leading to the proposal of a massive, two-stage, nuclear-fusion-propelled spacecraft (see image above). As designed, Daedalus would cover the six-light-year (36 trillion miles) distance between us and Barnard’s Star in only 50 years(!).
Icarus aims to achieve generally the same goals but with one important difference – Icarus will use technology available today, similar to the US Navy’s Project Longshot in the late 1980s. Check the Icarus Project out if you get a chance, and should you feel philanthropic, offer them some support.
It’s initiatives like these that can produce the breakthrough technologies we need to get interstellar exploration off the ground.