The best options for flying to faraway stars

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captdude

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A simply facinating article that I wanted to share with the community. The beginning of the article is reproduced below the link.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39779727/ns/technology_and_science-space



Interstellar flight may take until 23rd century, but some researchers are already figuring out the possibilities
By Marc Millis
Special to msnbc.com Special to msnbc.com
updated 10/21/2010

CLEVELAND — Just last month, scientists announced the discovery of the first possibly habitable planet, orbiting a star 20 light-years from Earth. That's relatively close in astronomical terms, but beyond today's reach.

Estimates based on three key factors — finances, technologies and energy sources — all come to the same conclusion: The first missions to others stars will not be possible for another two centuries.

While that's a sobering answer, it's not the last word on the topic. Volunteers at the Tau Zero Foundation, the nonprofit organization I founded, are working to improve humanity's prospects in the decades ahead.
 
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MeteorWayne

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I fixed the link. This probably belongs in Space Business and Technology, though...
 
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ExplorerAtHeart

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Wormholes.

Robotic craft driven by AIs (or uploaded humans) spreading out from the sun creating wormhole points at stars and othre point of interest.
 
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bdewoody

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OK I read the link and I didn't see anything new. Interstellar travel by humans is still way down the road into the future if ever. Getting every major government on earth to contribute to such a venture is something for fantasy land.
 
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neutrino78x

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We will do it eventually. Man will occupy planets all over the galaxy, given enough time. :)

Even if you only go 10% the speed of light, getting to the nearest star, 4 light years away, would take about 40 years one way.

I'm sure we will eventually have rockets that go 99.99999999999999999999999999999999999999999% the speed of light. In which case, 4 years to the nearest star. :)

--Brian
 
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Yuri_Armstrong

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It's quicker than that for the onboard travellers though. Can someone tell us how much time it would take in reference for to the ship to travel 4 light years at 10% the speed of light?
 
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AsimovFan

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neutrino78x":21ml6r4q said:
I'm sure we will eventually have rockets that go 99.99999999999999999999999999999999999999999% the speed of light. In which case, 4 years to the nearest star. :)

--Brian
I agree, simply based on the fact that we wont leave it alone till we do.
Zipping around the galaxy in our customized space ship will be the new sport.
That vision won't fade until we achieve it.

Going to other stars is something we should start soon with robots, and build a
train of them, propelled by a combination of forces, but to get near light speed
you will need solar sails.
The way to do it is keep solar sails always in orbit around the sun, and when you need
one to propel you out you just use it and slingshot outward at the farthest point.
The solar sails will have the ready to go inertia, all you have to do is use a system of
tethers to exchange from the lowest speed sail to the highest speed sail.
Why wait till you have the perfect ship, using robots you wont risk human lives.
Keep the people and animals on motherships behind the front edge of our fleet.
Follow behind it a continuous chain of ships and groups of ships.
Space stations orbiting the sun will send packets of food to the ships at regular
intervals, so a continuous chain of food and emergency materials can always be
on packet away.
Not only that but spread out to other stars at the same time.
 
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neilsox

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Maybe some century, but present laws of physics are a powerful barrier. If we have 1000 supply stations per cubic light year (most of the objects in the Oort cloud would need to be supply stations which manufactured the supplies from locally gathered materials, as the supply line from Earth is too long even at 2/10ths light year) the average spacing is about 1/10 th light year = one million times a million kilometers = one trillion kilometers. At an average delivery speed of 1/10th c, the average packet delivery time is one year = the supplies have deteriorated due to intense radiation from collisions with single protons. More massive particles destroy the delivery craft. Collision evasion difficulties, thrust and kinetic energy of impact increase rapidly at faster than 1/10 c.
Present solar sails can't reach 0.001 c in less than ten years of acceleration time, so a ten times improvement won't help much. Practical solar sails need stronger than optimistic specs for CNT = carbon nano tubes. Neil
 
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smwilson31

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Don't forget you cant just travel at 99.9% speed of light instantly even if it were possible to do so, instead you would have to slowly speed up to the maximum speed so the passengers would only feel 1g. It would take 353.7 days of constant 1G (9,81 m/s^2) to reach 99.9% the speed of light. At the halfway point you would have to begin slowing back down for the same reasons.

Time dilation wouldn't do you many favours either. We're many years away from such things. I appreciated how the article questioned the fact that such limits are as much of a sociological challenge as a technical challenge. Even space projects now are hindered by such issues.

Meanwhile seeing advanced missions to Europa and Enceladus would be much more exciting!
 
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annodomini2

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smwilson31":182tav42 said:
Don't forget you cant just travel at 99.9% speed of light instantly even if it were possible to do so, instead you would have to slowly speed up to the maximum speed so the passengers would only feel 1g.
Under this phase, this is beneficial as you wouldn't need to generate artificial gravity on the ship

smwilson31":182tav42 said:
It would take 353.7 days of constant 1G (9,81 m/s^2) to reach 99.9% the speed of light. At the halfway point you would have to begin slowing back down for the same reasons.
Why half way, if we are heading for Proxima Centauri (Which is 4 light years away), 353.94 days is less than one year and you haven't been travelling at 0.999c for the entirety of it.

You would be able to 'coast' for 2 years, not compensating for drag due to interstellar dust etc

smwilson31":182tav42 said:
Time dilation wouldn't do you many favours either. We're many years away from such things. I appreciated how the article questioned the fact that such limits are as much of a sociological challenge as a technical challenge. Even space projects now are hindered by such issues.

Meanwhile seeing advanced missions to Europa and Enceladus would be much more exciting!
Yup while it's taken the occupants, say 6years to get there, approximately 60-70years would have passed on earth

Interstellar travel is going to take a huge leap in technology to be realistic in the mission organisers life time.
 
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