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Earth and our home-planets float in a magnetized bubble of hot plasma spewed out by our sun in impressive speeds. The bubble's edge is like a placenta of sorts, which Voyager must break through to enter the Interstellar Ocean. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL (click to enlarge).
Is interstellar travel possible in our lifetime? Last week ExWebs 4-part Space series went up. Image courtesy of NASA.
Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 is the man-made object farthest away from Earth at approx 108 AU (AU=mean distance from Sun to Earth). Image courtesy of NASA/JPL (click to enlarge).
Estimated to be comms functional until 2025, the spacecraft registers signals in its environment and transmits them to the Deep Space Network (in Calif, Spain and Australia) dishes from where the messages are shot over to the Jet Propulsion Lab. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL (click to enlarge).
Not even our most kick-ass rockets (such as this Delta IV) are enough. 99% operate by chemical combustion; and even with the fanciest fine-tunes the propellant mass required to get to Alpha Centauri in 900 years using chemical systems exceeds the mass of the known Universe, said Greg. Image courtesy of NASA.
Among our advanced propulsion ideas are Ramjets scooping up interstellar hydrogen - refuelling as they go. The problem is that we would have to sweep 1018 cu. meters of space to collect a mere 1 gram of hydrogen. By comparison the engine of the experimental X-43A scramjet (in image) used about two pounds (1 kg) of hydrogen for about ten seconds of flight. Image coutesy of NASA (click to enlarge).
Here's where we are at right now, according to Gregory V. Meholic. The NASA readiness goes from "an idea" (red) to "working or worth a shot" (pink/white). Slide by Gregory V. Meholic (click to enlarge).
Gregory's bottom line is that conventional systems work for Mars but not for interstellar missions within a human lifetime. Science therefore needs a paradigm shift in propulsion technology: to move from mechanics-based to physics-based concepts. Slide by Gregory V. Meholic (click to enlarge).
The Cern particle collider has produced antimatter but not yet negative (dark) matter. The collider is looking for Higgs (God) particle to help us understand the true nature of Mass.
These are the only ideas allowing interstellar travel in reasonable time at this point, according to Greg. Slide by Gregory V. Meholic (click to enlarge).
NASA has put most of the Breakthrough Propulsion Physics theories to the test. "Null" Research Findings include a number of antigravity experiments, "unresolved" include inertia and gravity...
..."open" research (the most promising) are Space Drives (revisiting Mach's principle) and a few others. Slides by Gregory V. Meholic (click to enlarge).

ExWeb 2009 space report, part 2: Interstellar travel - from LOX to eternity over Einstein's speed bumps

Posted: Sep 16, 2009 07:47 pm EDT

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(Pythom.com) Jetting between planets could soon become both routine and profitable, but at some point inhospitable home-rocks will bore us. We'll want to find real Earths like ours, or better. So what are our chances to travel outside our solar system in reasonable time? Here goes an interstellar space travel crash course. Be ready, this story is a brutal head-spin, but worth it if you make it through. To the edge!Traveling to other planets in our own solar system is fairly easy. A number of man made spacecraft are already...

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