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Questions tagged [interstellar-travel]

Questions regarding travel on a cosmic scale, from one star to another.

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Is it possible to “shape” area impacted by radiation shielding during interstellar travels? [on hold]

If I have uderstood radiation/other shielding described in other questions correctly...it will be among other things provided by magnetic field(s) generated by superconductors. Is it possible to ...
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Backwards time dilation paradox [on hold]

We have a pair of atomic clocks. Let's call them clock A and clock B. We switch both of them on at the same time. Clock A will stay on Earth and clock B will go with the astronauts. Astronauts with ...
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1answer
187 views

What precisely was the character of the non-gravitational acceleration of Oumuamua?

When exactly did Oumuamua accelerate, when did it begin, when did it end, was it uniform across that period, and at what vector did it occur? I've seen some vague references to it lasting 100 days, ...
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2answers
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A gedanken on being able to navigate back to Earth

Imagine a sphere centered at Earth with a radius of 4 light years. Suppose we pick a random point on the surface of this sphere and drop someone, let us say, "Joe" there. Will Joe be able to come back ...
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3answers
202 views

How long could it take us to reach Alpha Centauri with current technology?

I was searching somewhere on how far away the nearest star system was and what that system was. Am I correct in that it is Alpha Centauri at roughly 4.75ish lightyears? If so, a probe or ship or ...
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3answers
236 views

Overcoming the speed of light thanks to ion thrusters

I am wondering if I could build an ion thruster, that is capable of exit velocity bigger that the speed of light. If I start with the equation for calculating exit velocity $v_e$ of a particle of ...
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1answer
129 views

Does prolonged space flight have any effect on the physical traits of the human body?

Can a variable of physical traits like height, weight, complexion be changed in outer space? Maybe by gravity or by something else that determines these traits (like the UV rays of the sun that ...
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1answer
161 views

If Oumuamua was alien space-junk, what would it look like, and would we be able tell?

I'm interested in our recent interstellar visitor 'Oumuamua. Whilst I'm happy to accept the official explanation of what it is, I'm curious about what state it would be in if it was actually alien ...
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How much D2O does it take to power an interstellar generation ship O'Neill cylinder for 10,000 years?

Did I do the math right? I'm using full precision but write only 2 sig figs. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_fusion#Criteria_and_candidates_for_terrestrial_reactions ...
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1answer
125 views

Can light sails be stopped (after 20 years)? What will happen after the 20 years (after their journey)?

At that time will they be destroyed? Or can they come back? Or will we simply cut the laser power? And if we can make the size of the craft big enough so that a person can be on-board (without ...
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130 views

Could the sun be used as a super-amplifier for SETI transmissions? [closed]

I just want to know if there is any scientific merit to this, the premise of Cixen Liu's novel, "The Three-Body Problem". English translation published in 2016. See also Tor.com: Cixin Liu’s Award-...
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1answer
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Why didn't the Pioneer probes maintain communications with Earth as long as the Voyagers have?

The Pioneer Missions. March 26, 2007 PIONEER 10 SPACECRAFT SENDS LAST SIGNAL - After more than 30 years, it appears the venerable Pioneer 10 spacecraft has sent its last signal to Earth. ...
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1answer
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Can centrifugal force actually overcome the health problems of microgravity?

Microgravity has a negative health effect which exercises cannot completely remedy. Rotation of spacecraft and the resulting centrifugal force have been suggested as a source of pseudo-gravity. But ...
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2answers
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Speed to maneuver with flaps and ailerons in interstellar dust

I know the interstellar space is not empty. It has (among micrometeorites and gas clouds) interstellar dust. And the effect of the dust is more noticeable if the speed of the starship increases (we ...
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2answers
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Outgassing as a viable explanation of Oumuamua acceleration excess

A recent paper on Oumuamua claims the following: 'Oumuamua (1I/2017 U1) is the first object of interstellar origin observed in the Solar system. Recently, Micheli et al. (2018) reported that '...
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1answer
271 views

Could electric fans lift a rocket strait up like a multi propeller drone? [closed]

Could electric fans like the ones below lift a rocket? What is the amount of electricity needed to lift a interplanetary rocket? Could a nuclear power plant provide enough electricity? https://en....
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Did anyone suggest theories on the sounds voyager 1 captured from 2012-2013?

I was watching this on the JPL Youtube channel and it doesn't have much context other than 2 minutes of footage, and cuts to slides with some information, but not a lot of information. I'm wondering ...
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4answers
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Could a Falcon Heavy assembly or something similar be useful for deep space missions? [duplicate]

Please forgive me, I'm a stargazer not an astronomer, nor a rocket scientist. If one could get a complete, fully fueled Falcon Heavy assembly into space, say for example by sandwiching one between ...
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2answers
82 views

Time when traveling around the speed of light [closed]

I heard that if you travel at the speed of light or faster (say, to the Kelper systems ) and come back, thousands of years may have passed but you haven't experienced more than a few. How is this ...
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1answer
101 views

Could the interaction of the Sun’s solar wind and trapped plasma ions be used to propel a rocket through interplanetary space?

I have recently had a renewed interest in comets and how comet tails are formed. From studying this process, a thought occurred to me that perhaps plasma ions can be created within a long hollow ...
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2answers
396 views

Can you use magnets to travel through space?

My thought process is that there is very little friction in space minus gravitational pull. Which could be a good thing if you wanted to go faster or slow down. The question is, is it possible to ...
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2answers
576 views

Could space probe Voyager 1 or 2 reach Alpha Centauri?

Is it possible for Voyager 1 or 2 to reach any other star? If yes, which one is it and how much time does it take to do that? And in which direction are they now, and could we still communicate with ...
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3answers
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What limits the speed at which rocket fuel is expelled?

Rocket propulsion is based on Newton's laws. The faster propellant is expelled, the faster the rocket is accelerated. At what speed is propellant expelled in a normal rocket? What are the factors ...
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2answers
157 views

Feasibility of Interstellar Probe Communication

So, I understand that to transmit information across interstellar distances, you need to use a lot of power (or less bandwidth?), something for example a small space probe wouldn't exactly have. If we ...
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4answers
295 views

What is currently used to protect spaceships from meteoroids?

What is used to protect a Mars or possibly interstellar spacecraft against meteoroids and asteroids? How risky it it to travel through space and does higher speeds equal more risk? Would a long ...
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1answer
598 views

Maximum velocity achieved by solar sail

What is the maximum (theoretical) velocity that can be achieved by solar-sail technology? Can we get close to the speed of light with that?
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1answer
167 views

Are there any mechanisms that would allow automated landing on a planet after 65,000 years?

I'm pretty certain this is a "no", but I'm a biologist, not a space scientist, and I'm attempting to answer this question over on Biology.SE - basically, if we launched a (very slow) craft/object ...
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1answer
251 views

Research paper on 'Wait calculation' for interstellar travel

Has anybody read, or does anyone know of, a particular paper on the amount of time humanity has to "wait" before venturing in actual interstellar travel? It discusses the optimal time to launch our ...
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1answer
514 views

How long would it take to travel to Proxima b?

Proxima b is an Earth-like (i.e. rocky) planet, in orbit around the star Proxima Centauri, approximately 4.243 light years from Sol, our home star. If I had a space vehicle capable of accelerating ...
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1answer
79 views

Can we get different images of the Milky Way? Or solar system?

The orbits of the planets are coplanar. We send probes out along this plane to explore planets. Why can't we send a probe perpendicular to this plane (say due north from the earths perspective) and ...
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0answers
144 views

What is the best propulsion for an interstellar ship? [closed]

What is the best propulsion for an interstellar ship? with the current technology If we sent a spacecraft in this decade or the next, what would be the best propulsion for that ship? I speak of a ship ...
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2answers
227 views

Using asteroids as propellent source

if we could capture an asteroid or meteor, can we use it as a vehicle for space travel? From what I understand, propulsion is a result of mass flow, so we could use a rail gun configuration to propel ...
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2answers
780 views

Is antimatter feasable?

I've seen the company Positron Dynamics claim they have a potential solution to interstellar travel through their proposed antimatter propulsion system. More often then not these advanced propulsion ...
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1answer
100 views

Current biggest challenge [closed]

What is regarded as the current single biggest challenge/hurdle limiting space exploration? Once that tipping point has past it would pave the way for future exploration to dramatically increase.
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1answer
132 views

Use of compressed gases for space travel

To travel once in space, not only using gravity as a method of propelling, could pressurised gases work? The ubiquity of gases such as helium or hydrogen being brought into the craft, once compressed ...
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3answers
403 views

Shortest time to place a probe further than Voyager 1?

Based on today's technology (requiring no new engineering hurdles to be solved), could a new interstellar space probe overtake Voyager 1's distance? It doesn't need to go in the same direction, but ...
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1answer
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Can we speed up spacecraft to suitable interstellar travel speed using oscillating gravity assists on planets on opposite sides of the solar system?

I recently calculated using $E = 0.5mv^2$ that one kilogram of mass traveling at one tenth of the speed of light would have a kinetic energy of 449.4 trillion joules. Relativistic effects are ...
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0answers
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Can the sun/Venus be used to slingshot back out into the outer solar system fast? [duplicate]

I'm not a physicist or rocket man, but I laid awake thinking about this all night and I just wanted expert corrections to help with my basic understanding. So... 483,000 miles per hour is how fast our ...
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1answer
247 views

What objects travel at the speed of light? [closed]

What elements travel at the speed of light. I was under the impression it was light and gravity but apparently electromagnetic waves (radio waves) travel that fast as well. And is element the right ...
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1answer
251 views

Project Starshot acceleration

A recent question about Project Starshot's communication asks about one of the seemingly insurmountable problems with this project. There is however another problem that has bugged me ever since I ...
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2answers
300 views

Which spacecraft will be the first for which the Sun would become the second brightest object in the sky?

Which spacecraft will be the first for which the Sun would become the second brightest object in the sky? When that will happen and how far? What would be the most efficient direction to fly in ...
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1answer
123 views

Does SETI perform search of extremely low bandwidth signals?

Sending a signal at interstellar distance requires enormous power - something of order not too far from energies of the stars. Even if we harness the power of stars, modulating that signal would take ...
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2answers
232 views

Solar sail and debris shielding

If a space craft is to travel at 0.6 c, how must one design a protection system such that any and all debris collisions with the sail do not render it damaged for further use? Is it possible to employ ...
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5answers
376 views

How might Earth's location be referenced in stellar terms?

Apologies if this has been asked before using terminology for somebody more familiar with the subject matter. I've searched but cannot find an answer. Assuming space travel was possible (to other ...
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1answer
2k views

How much light is there on the way from Earth to Proxima Centauri?

I want to know how much light is there for a spacecraft that flies from earth to Proxima Centauri. I know there's the sun but what happens after the spacecraft leaves the solar system? Are there stars ...
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1answer
188 views

Navigating to Proxima-B

What sorts of unique problems are there with planning a trajectory to Proxima Centauri, besides it being out of the plane of the ecliptic? (I'm guessing if you've got the juice to make it there, ...
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3answers
491 views

How are the tiny spacecraft proposed by Project Starshot supposed to communicate with Earth?

Between power limitations and aperture-limited diffraction I just can't see how it's possible.
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1answer
130 views

How to go about calculating the size and energy requirements for a space-based linear accelerator or railgun to accelerate small probes?

Apologies for the long question. With all the speculation surrounding the newly-discovered Earth-sized planets a "mere" 40 ly distant, I'm revisiting earlier musings on ways to send interstellar ...
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1answer
212 views

How close to Jupiter does a spacecraft need to get in order to gain maximum gravity assist and Oberth effect bonus for leaving the Solar System?

Given that a spacecraft's purpose is to leave the Solar System as fast as possible, how deep into Jupiter's gravity well would be optimal for an assist in the planet's orbital direction? Jupiter's max ...
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3answers
1k views

Would an interstellar exoplanet telescope make sense?

Since the transit method of detecting exoplanets requires perfect alignment of orbits, would a Kepler-type telescope yield more exoplanet detections if sent out of our solar system even to relatively ...