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Questions tagged [interstellar-travel]

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

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38 votes
3 answers
33k views

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 ...
coleopterist's user avatar
  • 6,063
36 votes
5 answers
5k views

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 ...
Anthony X's user avatar
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31 votes
7 answers
8k views

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 ...
GoatInTheMachine's user avatar
29 votes
3 answers
13k views

Time at 1 g acceleration to travel 100 000 light years

How long would it take to go 100,000 light years at a constant 1 g acceleration?
Roger P Jones's user avatar
28 votes
4 answers
12k views

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. ...
ReNiSh AR's user avatar
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28 votes
4 answers
13k views

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 ...
AlanSE's user avatar
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27 votes
3 answers
9k views

Can Voyager 1 reach the Andromeda Galaxy?

Right now, as of 2021, Voyager 1 has left the Solar System. If it has reached such a great distance, is it possible for it to reach the Andromeda Galaxy? Also, will we be able to still be in contact ...
Ishaan Manish's user avatar
26 votes
2 answers
73k views

What is the fastest speed ever reached in space travel as measured from the point in space from which it was launched to its current/final position?

Answers.com lists the New Horizons to have the fastest rocket. Is this info still valid? 7 light hours in 11 years at 50,000 km/h?
KingsInnerSoul's user avatar
23 votes
2 answers
2k views

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 ...
James Jenkins's user avatar
20 votes
3 answers
12k views

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 ...
Jonathan Welsher's user avatar
20 votes
4 answers
878 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.
Schlusstein's user avatar
  • 2,157
19 votes
6 answers
9k views

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 ...
SF.'s user avatar
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19 votes
1 answer
3k views

Interstellar Travel Thought Experiment

I have been going over a bit of a thought experiment in my head lately. And wondering if someone more informed on the matter can share their thoughts Let's start with the premise that rocket/ ...
VapeLord86's user avatar
18 votes
5 answers
2k views

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 ...
Anthony Neace's user avatar
17 votes
1 answer
3k views

How serious is the problem of interstellar dust for interstellar space travel?

Proxima Centauri b seems to be the closest exoplanet in its habitable zone. At a distance of $4.2$ lightyears, travel to this planet within a human lifetime is not impossible prima facie, however ...
ComptonScattering's user avatar
16 votes
3 answers
6k views

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 ...
user332336's user avatar
15 votes
2 answers
2k views

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 ...
Carlos Zamora's user avatar
15 votes
3 answers
4k views

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 ...
lurscher's user avatar
  • 633
15 votes
4 answers
5k views

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 ...
Muze's user avatar
  • 1
15 votes
3 answers
4k views

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 ...
Irigi's user avatar
  • 675
15 votes
4 answers
5k views

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 ...
bastik's user avatar
  • 1,237
15 votes
2 answers
9k 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 ...
Kromey's user avatar
  • 331
14 votes
1 answer
3k views

Why didn't the Pioneer probes maintain communications with Earth as long as the Voyagers have? [duplicate]

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. ...
not_Prince's user avatar
  • 1,507
14 votes
2 answers
2k views

Are there interstellar Lagrange points?

Is there for example some L1 like libration point where the Hill spheres of the Sun and of the Alpha+Beta Centauri meet? And are Lagrange points between stars inside of a binary system, like Alpha and ...
LocalFluff's user avatar
14 votes
1 answer
705 views

Which star could Starship reach soonest?

We've been mocking Starship because it's not going to fly to another star, but according to this solar system delta v map it only takes 5.63 km/s from a Moon transfer orbit to Sun escape velocity. A ...
darsie's user avatar
  • 441
13 votes
4 answers
5k views

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 ...
James Jenkins's user avatar
13 votes
4 answers
3k views

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 ...
Luckylooke's user avatar
13 votes
3 answers
661 views

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 ...
Everyone's user avatar
  • 13.6k
13 votes
4 answers
2k views

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?...
user avatar
13 votes
2 answers
811 views

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 ...
user avatar
12 votes
1 answer
4k views

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 ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
12 votes
1 answer
1k views

If a spacecraft travels at 10% c will it be destroyed by interstellar dust and particles?

If a spacecraft travels at 10% the speed of light will it be destroyed by collisions with interstellar dust and particles? The spacecraft will be traveling to nearby stars, not going through a nebula.
sno's user avatar
  • 531
12 votes
3 answers
958 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 ...
Kengineer's user avatar
  • 1,748
11 votes
5 answers
3k views

What processes create an object with an interstellar velocity?

An object like Oumuamua originates in a solar system. This object has roughly the inertia of everything else there. I can imagine stuff on the edge of the accretion zone for a star that...WANDER off......
Chris B. Behrens's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
10k views

Where is Voyager 1 now (2021)?

I remember seeing that Voyager 1 is currently in interstellar space and will continue to move indefinitely. I however could not find the reference of where (in the vicinity) Voyager 1 is now. Is it ...
GENIVI-LEARNER's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
661 views

Are we actually that close to techniques of accelerating probes to speeds like a quarter $c$?

As recent research has been started by a team around Stephen Hawking under the name Breakthrough Starshot they are going for accelerating little probes up to 0.2~0.25$c$. There isn't that much ...
Zaibis's user avatar
  • 993
11 votes
3 answers
2k views

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 ...
joe's user avatar
  • 373
11 votes
1 answer
425 views

Are any spacecraft heading remotely where Planet 9 is expected to be?

Planet 9, the hypothetical planet predicted Batygin and Brown, is expected to have an apoasis near the galactic center. Is there a spacecraft that is heading in that direction? Specifically, they ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
11 votes
1 answer
376 views

Using today's technology, is interstellar navigation possible?

I was watching this video essay discussion about space elevators, and on a bit of a tangent, the physicist talks about difficulties with interstellar missions, specifically comments about navigation ...
Dragongeek's user avatar
  • 19.2k
10 votes
3 answers
1k views

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 ...
Manishearth's user avatar
  • 1,623
10 votes
3 answers
4k views

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 ...
ohio_tech's user avatar
  • 101
10 votes
6 answers
876 views

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 ...
user avatar
10 votes
4 answers
399 views

Is stellar photosphere aerocapture possible, and if so, is it a viable option for rapid deceleration from relativistic speeds?

Is there a theoretical/experimental precedent for stellar photosphere aerocapture (if it is in fact, a thing)? Specifically, would using this method of deceleration be in some way more attractive than ...
Brian's user avatar
  • 233
10 votes
2 answers
2k 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 ...
Mark Micallef's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
999 views

Debris in interstellar flight

If we are ever able to built a spacecraft that can travel near the speed of light, how can we make it to our destination in one piece? I mean at such speed a tiny tiny rock (even space dust?) would ...
Budskii's user avatar
  • 101
10 votes
1 answer
322 views

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 ...
Kevin Ford The Submariner's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
1k views

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 ...
Kevin Ford The Submariner's user avatar
9 votes
6 answers
1k views

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 ...
math_lover's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
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 ...
Cyka Blyat's user avatar
9 votes
4 answers
494 views

How will Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking's nanobots decelerate and transmit data upon arrival at Alpha Centauri?

Does anyone know what exactly is their plan, once they get there? How is that nano-thing going to slow down / take images / send data back to us? I couldn't find any information on this.
Ash's user avatar
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