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From the title, what was the original plan to go back to earth after dropping the payload? From my perspective, the payload is attached to the shield, if my perspective is correct, isn't this a suicide/sacrifice mission to begin with?

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The payload is the large shield at the front, but the Icarus II also sports a secondary shield that protects the crew on their return voyage to Earth.

The plan appears to be fly straight toward the sun, release the payload, then perform a powered acceleration away from the Sun and back towards the Earth.

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And yes, I'm aware that that makes no sense unless your Δv is huge

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    At least, that's what the mission planners told the crew. There's no way they would sacrifice the lives of half a dozen astronauts in order to to save the entire human race, is there? – Royal Canadian Bandit Sep 5 '14 at 19:29
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    Yeah, I kinda saw it like teaching kids to duck and cover. There's the very slim possibility it might aid their survival, but it's mostly to give the illusion you have a chance. – TenthJustice Sep 5 '14 at 19:46
  • so communications array will still be fried anyway with that little shield right? whats the fuss with that in the first place about needing on the way back. :) – Sid Sep 10 '14 at 9:02
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    @Sid - That's an excellent point. The answer is "bad writing" although you could probably argue that the plan was to angle the ship to avoid the primary antenna getting fried (at the cost of the secondary antenna) – Valorum Sep 10 '14 at 9:36

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