Stellar Engines Ltd was founded in May 2011 to help to bring about and fund crucial innovations necessary for deep space exploration.
Back in 2011 it was thought that a new opportunity existed to build on the revolution in space exploration technology that is taken place currently. In particular, there are key areas published in the science and technology literature, often considered speculative or visionary thinking, which in fact may hold solutions that could solve many of our every day energy and transport needs. In addition, there was a need to provide a financial vehicle to look at concepts and technologies that mainstream industry (and government) is not looking at. So it was that in May 2011 Stellar Engines Ltd was incorporated as a limited liability company in the United Kingdom.
The company has been trading for eight years now and has taken part in several successful contracts with industry, whilst quietly developing some of its own concepts in the background. In essence, the contracts awarded to SEL go to fund the internal innovations and R&D that people associated with SEL are conducting.
The logo of Stellar Engines is modelled on the Pioneer Plaque form the Pioneer missions of the 1970s. However, it is also made artistically so that it has the appearance of particles coming out of an energetic reaction. This could be analogous to the Sun which is powered by fusion reactions, and the word 'Stellar' does mean star. Hence the intention is to use the same energy that powers nature's stars, to power devices for the benefit of human kind.
The Pioneer Plaque
The Pioneer plaques were a pair of gold-anodized aluminium plaques placed on board the 1972 Pioneer 10 and 1973 Pioneer 11 spacecraft missions. These were the first human made object to achieve escape velocity from the Solar System. The message design was lead by the astronomers Carl Sagan and Frank Drake and Linda Salzman Sagan. They are 229 mm wide by 152 mm in height and 1.27 mm thick and each has a mass of approximately 120 grams.
The plaques defined the hyperfine transition of hydrogen as well as the figures of a man and a woman, shown against the back drop of the Pioneer spacecraft for scale. The radial pattern on the left of the plaque shows 15 lines emanating from the same origin, and each has binary numbers to represent the periods of pulsars in the galaxy, using the hydrogen spin-flip transition as the unit. Essentially it is a navigational map of the position of our Sun (and Earth) in the galaxy.