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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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What will it take in money, materials, and time?
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!).
Speed of light is 300,000 km/s
These two simple postulates have huge implications for the very meaning of space and time – they are interconnected and interdependent (more later)….
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)”.
None of them overcome the challenges of interstellar travel…
Mass ratio = (rocket+fuel)/rocket =39 (single stage)
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
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.
Explode H-bombs (fusion explosions) behind a big shield that would propel the payload and fuel- could reach nearest star in 100 years
Electron beam powered fusion of “nuclear pellets” made of dueterium and tritium. Brits planned a robotic mission to Barnard’s star (2nd closest)…
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.