Can we do it now?  Can we do it ever?
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Can we do it now? Can we do it ever? What will it take in money, materials, and time?. The Challenge of Interstellar Travel. Flight paths of Voyager and Pioneer. It would take 115,000 years for Pioneer 10 to reach the nearest star system!!!

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Can we do it now? Can we do it ever? What will it take in money, materials, and time?

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Can we do it now can we do it ever what will it take in money materials and time

Can we do it now? Can we do it ever?

What will it take in money, materials, and time?


Can we do it now can we do it ever what will it take in money materials and time

The Challenge of Interstellar Travel

Flight paths of Voyager and Pioneer

It would take 115,000 years for Pioneer 10 to reach the nearest star system!!!

But, none of these spacecraft are even aimed at nearby stars… the closet approach to a star will be 3.3 light years in 2 million years from now!

For posterity (we will likely go pick them up!), we put a plague and a record on the spacecrafts that communicate our world as it was in the 1970s (embarrassing!).


Can we do it now can we do it ever what will it take in money materials and time

The Challenge of Interstellar Travel

  • The real challenges of interstellar flight are

  • Cosmic speed limit – nothing can travel faster than the speed of light

  • Money and energy – it requires 100 times the world’s current annual energy consumption to send a 1 million kilogram rocket to the nearest star at a speed of 10% of the speed of light

Speed of light is 300,000 km/s

  • Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity

  • Laws of physics are the same for everyone everywhere

  • The speed of light is the same for everyone everywhere

These two simple postulates have huge implications for the very meaning of space and time – they are interconnected and interdependent (more later)….


Can we do it now can we do it ever what will it take in money materials and time

The Road to Space- The Rocket and More…?

The energy requirement quoted was based upon chemical rockets. These use liquid chemicals that undergo combustion in a funnel shape at the end of the rocket.

Rockets use the principle of Newton’s 3rd Law:

“For every reaction (push) there is an equal and opposite reaction (push in the opposite direction)”.

  • We will discuss:

  • Chemical Rockets

  • Nuclear Rockets (fission and fusion)

  • Solar Sails

  • “Arcs”

None of them overcome the challenges of interstellar travel…


Can we do it now can we do it ever what will it take in money materials and time

The Ultimate Chemical Rocket

payload

Mass ratio = (rocket+fuel)/rocket =39 (single stage)


Can we do it now can we do it ever what will it take in money materials and time

The Nuclear Rocket I

Uses the same principle that powers the stars…

E = mc2

M = mass of fuel converted to energy (0.7%)

C = speed of light (squared = 90,000,000,000,000,000

Project Rover

Build a nuclear fission rocket engine that would take humans to mars by 1985!

This project was actually funded by the government and made good progress until 1973, when the moon program was axed.


Can we do it now can we do it ever what will it take in money materials and time

The Nuclear Rocket II

Project Orion

Explode H-bombs (fusion explosions) behind a big shield that would propel the payload and fuel- could reach nearest star in 100 years

  • Never been built, never seriously funded beyond research/development

  • Would violate space treaty- no nukes in space

  • Could be built with existing technology!


Can we do it now can we do it ever what will it take in money materials and time

The Nuclear Rocket III

Project Orion

Electron beam powered fusion of “nuclear pellets” made of dueterium and tritium. Brits planned a robotic mission to Barnard’s star (2nd closest)…

  • Never been built, just a drawing board rocket

  • Would violate space treaty- no nukes in space

  • Could NOT be built with existing technology! We do not yet know how to contain fusion.


Can we do it now can we do it ever what will it take in money materials and time

The Solar Sail…

No serious project proposed or funded

Uses principle of radiation pushing on a surface.. With no friction in space, this can work, but it is very low energy – slow to accelerate and does not work well away from stars…!!!

Use lasers, which are collimated light… but very expensive.


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