Sadly at the moment we might as well tie bungy rope around 2 trees and call it a launcher. I made a typo myself. I fancy the idea of a very long rail gun myself. Granted this would be a one way trip for a probe but I like the fact that a system of rings could be set in a line and a probe would pass through them. You might even reverse the polarity of both so that magnetic repulsion occurs inspiring an even greater boost to velocity.
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The More Rings you have placed in a straight line, the higher velocity you might potentially achieve and best of all, your ship needs not carry any sort of fuel except for navigational corrections. In other words, would the trip be 85 years viewed by the people of Earth or would the trip seem to last 85 years for the people on board? Or would the time seem the same for both???? Actually, these figures would only be true if the Alpha Centauri system was stationary relative to the solar system.
Can anyone do the trig and work out when Alpha Cent system will be closest to us and by how far? Then we could do the trip in much less time. As far as The time issue goes I believe it is relative. Anything accelerating away from the earth appears to slow down while anything accelerating toward the earth appears to be faster. This throws the whole idea of a maximum velocity out the window though and our scientists seem to be stuck on that idea. This also puts a kink in space travel in that we still have to aim our craft to intercept the object we are aiming for and its relative speed trajectory and now relative time difference into account.
But to make a long story short it would seem like 80 years to the people on board but to the people of earth it will look like it takes at least the amount of time the light from that object takes to reach earth no matter what speed we reach. I have been saying the same thing for years to all the people I know and wish more people would realize it.
How much stuff is out in the Oort Cloud? How about dust, debris and larger objects in interstellar space? Seems to me that a good strategy is to send a fleet of highly miniaturized or even nano robots with the understanding that there will be losses on the trip. Perhaps if they were smart machines they could join up at the destination and construct some sort of a transmitter to send information back to Earth. Yes I agree first lets settle our own backyard then figure out what the hell to do about our neighbors yard. Even if we could travel close to the speed of light, surely this would be impractical.
By we should know whether or not there would be habitable planets around Alpha Centauir A and B. They are both very close to what our star, the Sun is. We are thinking too small and too short term. Also Proxima Centauri is doo-doo. For another. Too short term: witihin the next 50 years, we should have effective immortality for humans through medical advances. That changes all the rules about how long you can take to get there.
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Take a planet. Mars might be big enough. Either live underneath the surface or make an artificial sun. Plan B, consider taking the Sun and all the major planets. Everyone needs to pause a bit and think about the motivation for the article. The article is a valid discussion of the distances and times it would take to travel to another star using diffenert technologies. Remember, around years ago, a fast ship would take about 9 months to travel from England to Australia.
I often wondered about this very question — so thank you to the author. It seems so simple at first — only four point something light years away — but we all know that is still a very long way. I point to the technical, ethical and financial constraints that surround the present day discussions of travelling to the Moon or Mars to stress my point. I think our first step is to colonize the solar system, that will give us better experience in developing faster propulsion systems.
I hope its within our life time. Imagine travelling 80 to 1, years to the nearest star, and then finding out there is absolutely nothing of interest there. It seems to me that for Humans and all the other alien species out there, we are all stuck in our own little solar systems. We are fine.
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Nothing really happened since our last communication 2, years ago. We received your communication 1, years ago and we are glad you are fine. The author has ignored the Nerva and Phoebus nuclear rocket engines for upper stages and the D-He-3 fusion reaction to provide 10million times as much energy per particle as in chemical systems. See John Luce and John Hilton paper. Far more efficient than Orion.
Soviets have operated 3 dozen nuclear reactors in space for electricity production. At 1G it only takes a year to get to near c. Imagine doing the best telescopic study from this solar system you can, first. And possibly sending robotic probes after that, befor committing people…just like here. Alpha Cen A and-or B would seem more stable, luminous stars with a better likelihood of habitable planets or moons orbiting gas giant planets. We could learn a lot by just looking at all the fantastic space technology that was developed 50 years ago.
Are there any theories relating to what space would be like between solar systems? MC, both ideas go kablooie.
Space is a near vacuum anywhere you go, even in a nebulae. There are no meteor storms to watch out for in interstellar space. Nothing to keep them together It would be like watching out for meteorites while you are driving…not a major concern. The Milky way affects us here the same way it would outside our solar system. The heliopause affects atomic size particles, not spaceships.
There is a radioactive belt or two surrounding the earth even now. Space is filled with radioactivity. Nasty place. As described in one post, bomb detritus would spread to near nothingness in little time. It would probably take off from moon orbit anyway. Too big to launch from earth surface. And the blast absorbtion plate would have to be enormous?
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Where does that thinking come from? The blasts are smallish and continuous. I think anti-matter will probably be the answer that gets us there. Massive energy from smallest quantity, and lacking in need for extra-dimensional travel which will probably always remain a tantalizing theory at best. Within two or three decades, we should have sufficient molecular manufacturing technology to create extremely efficient, small, light and highly intelligent robots, as well as small nanofactories capable of creating any object from patterns stored in computer memory.
Sending them out to the nearest stars would take far less energy than sending humans. If a robot arrived at a suitable exoplanet, it could use the nanofactory to construct a laser receiving station or similar device , as well as living accommodations for humans. The same technology that would allow the construction of the robots and nanofactories should allow us to disassemble human beings and reassemble them. This may allow us to store entire humans as digital information.
We could then beam the information to the receiving station on the exoplanet. The nanofactory would reassemble the human patterns, creating exact duplicates of the original human templates, and those humans would have living accommodations already waiting for them. Of course that would still take a while: probably hundreds or thousands of years to get the robots to the exoplanets, then at least a few years to establish a connection with Earth beaming info at lightspeed , and then a few more years to beam the human patterns to the exoplanets.
So…forget it. At least for now.
Maybe some AI will come up with a way to shorten the trip, so just wait a few decades and find out. Thanks so much for the article and reader comments. Exciting visions.