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Questions tagged [interstellar-travel]

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

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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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Were the Voyager Golden Records tested for being decoded? [duplicate]

I was wondering if the microgroove golden records they put on the Voyager spacecraft, along with instruction on how to decode it, were first put to the test with the subjects most likely to decode ...
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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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How could I find a potentially habitable exoplanet in same direction as Kepler-186f?

I am working on a story where a spaceship is on a mission to colonize the exoplanet Kepler-186f. However, after hitting of small meteor, they need to find a closer candidate for the new colony. I want ...
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Technology for unmanned spacecraft to exoplanets

I am interested in the possibility of sending unmanned reconnaisance spacecraft to study exoplanets, especially Earth-like ones with the ultimate goal of detecting alien life. Certainly earth-based ...
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Are there any planned extra-solar missions by NASA or others?

Voyager 1 and 2 have been gone for a LONG time now (decades) and presumably we can produce bigger, faster and better probes these days that could tell us a lot more about the heliosphere. I've not ...
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Theoretically, could gravitational time dilation ever be an issue when visiting an alien planet?

If humanity ever got to the point of being able to explore new planets (assuming we could land there), are there any known entities in the universe that are so massive that gravitational time dilation ...
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Gravity Assist braking

Usually gravity assist maneuvers are used to accelerate a probe without expending propellant. But could gravity assist maneuver be used to brake and insert into orbit? Is there a formula to use for ...
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If a gas giant is far enough away from a sun will it freeze solid?

I am reading a book where a gas giant is coming into our solar system. It was a rogue planet, traveling between stars. Given the knowledge we have now, would we expect a gas giant to freeze solid if ...
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Could Von Neumann probes be forbidden by technological limitations?

The famous Fermi paradox asks an important question: if space-faring civilizations exist and are not extremely rare, why are they not already here? Von Neumann proposed a probe, that flies to nearest ...
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Can we use interstellar hydrogen as a fuel for interstellar travel?

From my understanding, space is not entirely empty. Infact, between the voids of space are molecules or maybe individual atoms of hydrogen just floating around. I understand that gathering massive ...
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Realistic space battle, how it could looke like? No hollywood version or videogames like [closed]

I am about to program space exploration simulation game in the future, but I need to consider many factors. I would like to be as much realistic as possible, but keeping the game playable as well and ...
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Space travel: Is there an speed limit lower than speed of light?

Propulsion exhaust speed is lower than speed of light, I think and if it is so, than how could spaceship go faster that exhaust speed? Right? So exhaust speed is a maximum speed for spaceship? (If ...
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1answer
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How quickly could a craft find its location using only pulsars?

I'm only just beginning to scratch the surface of the possibilities in interstellar travel. I know that pulsars can be independently identified by means of measuring their pulses, and that once enough ...
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Maybe I can't really reach the speed of light, but how close could I get?

Let's say I build a ship, get in it and take off into the dark. When I leave Earth, I measure my acceleration at 1g and my ship is capable of producing that level of power indefinitely. There will be ...
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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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Is a ball of ice practical as reaction mass and forward shielding?

There have been several hard science fiction stories where sheets or a ball of ice is used on a spacecraft. The function is usually as forward shielding against dust and small debris. Is this ...
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Is nuclear fusion a viable means of powering spacecraft?

Today while studying about nuclear reactions, I found that we can produce a large amount of energy. So, why not introduce this energy in our space exploration rockets? It may decrease the time of ...
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What is the escape velocity of the Alpha Centauri system at the binary's barycenter

It's going to take a lot of money, time and resources to design & launch interstellar probes. It would certainly be helpful if we could develop a mission profile that would lead to an orbital ...
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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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How many men or women does it take to fly an interstellar space ship?

On a non-scheduled flight, would an interstellar space ship need an active crew consisting of a captain, several officers and a number of technicians, similar to the bridge of the Enterprise, or would ...
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Effects of prolonged space-travel on the human psyche

Astronauts are highly trained specialists, carefully selected for many characteristics, among them their personality. In many science fiction movies or novels, whole populations travel in space ships ...
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Would it be possible with a light-speed ship to reach intergalactic space in a human lifetime?

I have one issue coming out of one conversation between me and my roommates (none of us professional in the subject of space)! If one had a ship which could approach light speed, could one reach ...
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Can orbital debris be assembled into a module for space exploration?

Wikipedia writes to say Currently, about 19,000 pieces of debris larger than 5 cm (2.0 in) are tracked, with another 300,000 pieces smaller than 1 cm below 2000 km altitude. For comparison, the ...
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What can an astronaut do better than the Curiosity rover? [closed]

Firstly, I want to say that I'd be the first person with their hand up when asked, "So who wants to go to space?". There's nothing I'd love more than to go. But from looking at the amount of ...
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Did NASA provide the wrong year for Voyager 1's close approach to AC +79 3888?

This article says it will pass by the star in about 40,000 years. However, my quick and dirty calculation shows that Voyager will only be about a few light years away in 40,000 years, still quite a ...
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What's our limit in sending probes to distant bodies?

Currently, we're able to aim probes at various bodies in the solar system pretty well. Do we have the technology to send a probe to Alpha Centauri? If we're aiming at a star, approximately how far ...
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Where are Pioneer 10, 11 and the Voyagers ultimately headed?

Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, and the two Voyagers are all headed out of the solar system. Has anybody extrapolated where they will all end up (if at all)? Is there a graphic that depicts the direction of ...
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Is warp drive a legitimate avenue of scientific investigation?

I've been reading a number of online "pop-sci" articles on the subject of "warp drive" - derived from work done initially by Alcubierre. Some of the most recent articles say that there are ...
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Once lightyears out of the solar system, could you expect to get feasible propulsion with a solar sail?

It's been said before that a solar sail could be used for solar and extrasolar missions - if you aren't in a hurry. However, as you can't spell solar sail without the solar part, I'm wondering if you ...
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Would leaving the ecliptic plane offer any benefit to interstellar travel?

Aside from the obvious answer of being able to easily avoid the larger bodies in the Solar System. I'm primarily curious as to the mechanics of this endeavor -- would there be any benefit to ...
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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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1answer
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Where could you go in a 20km iron asteroid?

We know from this question that an asteroid 20 km in diameter is feasible as a hollow space habitat. There are many variables in real life, but assuming you had a spherical solid iron asteroid 20 km ...
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What is the largest naturally occurring body that could be hollowed and safely lived in?

Some proposals for living in space envision finding an asteroid that is a solid chunk of something (i.e. Nickel Iron), hollow it out, slap on an air lock, and you have a home. Add a drive and you ...
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What limits the speed of space probes currently?

...other than budget, obviously. Our computers nowadays are good enough that we should be capable of sending a probe to a neighbor star system and back, and get some pretty good analysis reports. We ...
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How can we determine the optimal destination for a manned mission beyond our solar system?

The 100YSS mission currently includes a discussion about Alpha Centauri (our closest star) as a potential target destination, but is it really the best candidate for the 100YSS? To narrow the ...
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Minimum velocity to achieve fusion with Bussard ramjet

I think that other than in a star, nobody has achieved any fusion process with a net positive energy output. But reading about the Bussard ramjet a few minutes ago, it seems that this might be ...
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Alternative data transfer channels for inter-stellar probes?

The problem how it is possible to receive data from Voyager I at all is dealt in this question: https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/13227/how-earth-communicates-with-voyager-i However, there ...
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How to design a spacecraft to cope with redshift?

Redshift occurs whenever an observer moves away from (shifted to the red) or approaches (shifted to the blue; blueshift) an object that emits radiation and the other way around. Traveling towards ...
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Physics and math behind flight through solar system [closed]

I wrote a program that simulates a solar system. I was able to calculate the locations for every planet on its elliptical route for any given time. In a second project, I managed to simulate newtonian ...
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Could black holes be used for swing-by?

Due to gravity and movement an object can be accelerated (positive/negative) and slingshot into another direction. This has been used various times, but as far as I know with orbital objects like a ...
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How would manned interstellar travel become feasible? [closed]

What is the actual feasibility of interstellar travel? For instance, a manned journey to Proxima Centauri, given the distance, what technology would need to be developed/perfected for such a journey?...
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What spaceship materials could naturally experience radioactive decay and transmute on a million year interstellar journey? [closed]

For extremely long journeys, deterioration of spaceship materials becomes a concern beyond mere rust or corrosion. Assuming a ship is sufficiently protected against radiation and other colliding ...