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Questions tagged [interstellar-travel]

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

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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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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 ...
30
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3answers
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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 ...
26
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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. ...
26
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2answers
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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?
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4answers
8k 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 ...
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2answers
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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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6answers
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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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3answers
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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 ...
17
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5answers
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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 ...
17
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3answers
493 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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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
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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 ...
13
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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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4answers
3k 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 ...
13
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4answers
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 ...
13
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2answers
646 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 ...
12
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2answers
560 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 ...
12
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2answers
1k 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 ...
12
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3answers
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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 ...
12
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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 ...
11
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3answers
1k 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 ...
11
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1answer
360 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 ...
10
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3answers
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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 ...
10
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3answers
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 ...
10
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3answers
481 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 ...
10
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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 ...
10
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1answer
3k 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 ...
10
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6answers
625 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 ...
10
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2answers
2k 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 ...
10
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4answers
969 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?...
10
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4answers
265 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 ...
10
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1answer
262 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 ...
10
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1answer
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 ...
9
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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 ...
9
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1answer
389 views

How much power would an Alpha Centauri probe require for communication?

Project Longshot report (1988) says: A laser with an input power of 250 kilowatts would allow for a data rate of 1000 bits per second at maximum range." Yet Breakthrough Starshot website (2016) ...
9
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1answer
626 views

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 ...
9
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1answer
283 views

Is interstellar plasma a danger for future probes and astronauts?

As Voyager 1 continues its trek across interstellar space it has been reporting increased amounts of CME Plasma and Interstellar Plasma. When these two types of plasma interact a shock wave is ...
9
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1answer
300 views

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 ...
9
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2answers
420 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 ...
8
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6answers
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 ...
8
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2answers
1k views

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 ...
8
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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 ...
8
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4answers
350 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.
8
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2answers
628 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 ...
8
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1answer
494 views

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 ...
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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 ...
7
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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 ...
7
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3answers
419 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 ...
7
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1answer
230 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 ...