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Questions tagged [interstellar-travel]

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

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What is the most promising interstellar propulsion method? [on hold]

What interstellar propulsion system has the highest potential for being the safest, most efficient, and can get around to the nearest stars, within a human lifetime (say reach 20–50% the speed of ...
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2answers
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Speculation on the concept of in-space magnetic ring/rail launcher for a spaceship?

This is in reference to the question If human space travel is limited by the G force vulnerability, is there a way to counter G forces? Which, by my limited understanding, seems to point at the ...
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What are the chances a space probe will make it to another star without hitting a bit of space dust?

tl;dr: What is the density of "space dust" or micrometeorites in interstellar space, and how likely is it that a tiny interstellar craft could avoid hitting any? In a future time we will likely ...
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3answers
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What is the most fuel efficient way out of the Solar System?

I understand with current technology we can't just fly a straight line out of the solar system but which way out would need the least fuel? Currently to navigate the solar system it is a dance ...
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1answer
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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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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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1answer
362 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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3answers
122 views

Delta-V to accelerate to/decelerate from .5c

I have a reasonably good understanding of delta-V (from playing KSP). However, I don't have a great understanding of how it works once you start running into the limitations of physics. I know that ...
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2answers
649 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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1answer
249 views

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
2k views

Travel Speed in Space

I have read several questions and answers here concerning achieving speeds beyond the typical deep-space exploration missions. While speed increases near the Sun for example, that can't be applied to ...
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3answers
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concentrating starlight with mirrors for photovoltaics in deep space

would it be feasible to use mirrors to concentrate starlight in order to produce efficient solar panels in interstellar space? could we produce enough electricity to provide ongoing propulsion?
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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
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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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1answer
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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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0answers
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Is it possible to “shape” area impacted by radiation shielding during interstellar travels? [closed]

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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0answers
132 views

Backwards time dilation paradox [closed]

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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2answers
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Can a reusable electric powered blimp stage for launch possible?

Originally this question asked about using blimps and electricity in replacement of boosters. As written then it was no good and got down votes. I had a few question marks and each question really ...
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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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0answers
41 views

How could a local compact star remnant be used for space exploration? [closed]

If a neutron star or black hole was detected, say, only one parsec from here, would it help space exploration? Could it be used as a gravity assisted flyby portal for interstellar space flight? I ...
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3answers
320 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
287 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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3answers
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If the Alcubierre Warp Drive was used to travel to Alpha Centauri, how much time would pass on Earth?

If the Alcubierre Warp Drive was used to travel to Alpha Centauri, how much time would pass on Earth? Per this article, it would take merely days to travel there. Say a ship travels there, spends a ...
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4answers
320 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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0answers
110 views

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
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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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3answers
430 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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0answers
188 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
2k views

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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2answers
556 views

Could unexpectedly high levels of interstellar space debris be the Great Filter?

I've heard (though I can't find the source) that sufficiently large interstellar space debris has the potential to destroy spacecraft, and that there is considerable uncertainty about how much of a ...
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2answers
242 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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0answers
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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 the sun be used as a gravity assist outside the solar system (with current tech)?

I think I might have understood what this XKCD comic is trying to do. The diagram is proposing to use the Oberth effect at closest approach to the sun to escape the solar system! (image license: CC ...
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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
88 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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2answers
437 views

Orion Project (NPP) Pusher Plate computer models and survivability?

Does anyone know of any modern (1990's - present) computer modeling of the Orion pusher plate and its reaction/survivability to repeated plasma impacts? Regarding the 1950s/1960s Orion Project using ...
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1answer
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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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7answers
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Do things get dirty in space?

I'm writing a computer game involving space exploration, where the player will come across space ships/stations that are hundreds/thousands/tens of thousands of years old. I'm also trying to make it ...
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1answer
5k views

If we can make an Alcubierre drive, how fast can it move a ship?

Assuming we ever manage to solve the energy generation problem (and whatever other problems may face it) and build a functioning Alcubierre drive, how "fast" would we be able to travel? That is, from ...
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2answers
822 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
170 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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1answer
287 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
170 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
818 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
672 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
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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
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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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4answers
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Is there any way to find and track Pioneer 10, 11, and Voyager 1, 2?

The space probes Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, and Voyager 2 are the first man-made devices to have escaped from our solar system. The main problem they face is the lack of power source in them. ...
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2answers
269 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 ...