Space Travel: Dreams and Prospects
Why is it that we are not further along with ‘space travel’ despite over 60 years of steady effort? It’s very simple! For interstellar travel we have dreams but no technology, while for interplanetary travel we have technology but no dreams!
Interstellar Travel: Dreams without technology
The biggest problem is getting there, and this is a simple matter of scale. Sailing ships and diesel-powered vessels are a good way to travel Earth’s oceans, but the technology is inadequate for distances 100-times greater to get us to the moon in a few days. We need chemical rockets for that. Similarly, another 100-fold step gets us to interplanetary space, and for that chemical rockets are inadequate. We need a completely different technology such as ion rockets powered by solar or nuclear energy. But the biggest step is interstellar space. There, the distance scale factor is over 100,000 times greater than interplanetary distances. We need a propulsion technology that similarly has as much in common with advanced ion engines as the canvas in sailing ships had compared to ion engines. You can forget about ‘warp drives’ because physicists do not understand what space (e.g. gravity) actually ‘is’ let alone how to artificially change its geometry. There is actually The iconic starship Enterprise and warp drive. (Credit: Star Trek)
Then there is the matter of destination. As I have pointed out in my previous Huffington Post blogs and in the book Interstellar Travel:An astronomer’s guide, the cost of interstellar travel is so great we will have thoroughly explored our destination by remote sensing long before we even begin our first flight. For trillion-dollar missions, we will not travel to a star that we do not know IN ADVANCE has a planetary system. But not just any planetary system. To justify the —> Read More