Questions tagged [interstellar-travel]

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

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25
votes
4answers
11k 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 ...
4
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2answers
2k 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?
21
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2answers
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 ...
31
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7answers
7k 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 ...
15
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3answers
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 ...
16
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2answers
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 ...
28
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4answers
11k 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. ...
20
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4answers
719 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.
13
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4answers
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?...
27
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2answers
72k 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?
18
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5answers
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 ...
7
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3answers
587 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 ...
32
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4answers
4k 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 ...
37
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3answers
30k 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 ...
19
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3answers
9k 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 ...
15
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3answers
4k 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 ...
12
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3answers
518 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 ...
11
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2answers
610 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 ...
4
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2answers
619 views

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 '...
3
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2answers
2k 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 ...
16
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4answers
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 ...
14
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1answer
2k 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. ...
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 ...
7
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1answer
336 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 ...
4
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0answers
587 views

Breakthrough Starshot's 100 Gigawatt laser array - what's the current thinking how this might work?

In the article Breakthrough Starshot tricks out massive telescope for planet hunting there is casual mention of a "phased array of lasers in the 100GW range" that will propel a gram scale spacecraft ...
3
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2answers
2k 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 ...
-8
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2answers
612 views

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 ...
19
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6answers
7k 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 ...
12
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1answer
7k 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 ...
1
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3answers
1k views

Are exoplanets in the habitable zone suitable for human colonization?

If they found the those planets in the habitable zone, are they planning ahead for human settlement of them?
10
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2answers
742 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 ...
9
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4answers
448 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.
9
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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 ...
9
votes
1answer
756 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 ...
5
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0answers
418 views

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 ...
4
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2answers
762 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 ...
3
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1answer
266 views

How powerful an antenna needs to be to signal Earth from other solar systems?

If a probe, equipped with a current state-of-the-art antenna, were to send data to Earth from Proxima Centauri orbit, what power would the antenna need to emit for the signal to be usefully readable ...
1
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9answers
2k views

Why would interstellar space travelers need to decelerate their whole ship?

In many sci-fi novels I have read, interstellar travelers had their ship accelerate half the way, then decelerate half the way. I wonder why this is the chosen approach. Would not it be better to ...
-1
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3answers
169 views

Prior to putting spacecraft on a trajectory going a significant fraction of the speed of light, would some things need to be tested on Earth?

Except for particle accelerators, I don't think we have made any macro object go anywhere near the speeds planned for spacecraft like the one planned in Project Orion. But would there be something ...
16
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3answers
4k 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
760 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
405 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 ...
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 ...
7
votes
1answer
663 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, ...
6
votes
3answers
188 views

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?
5
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2answers
2k views

Collecting antimatter from Van Allen radiation belts

I just read an article by John P. Millis, Ph.D which says that antimatter is created in the Van Allen radiation belts. I am writing a novel where a future starship with FTL capability, powered by a ...
4
votes
1answer
628 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
286 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 ...
2
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0answers
173 views

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 ...
2
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3answers
854 views

Do we have the technology to colonize the nearest habitable planet by sending hundreds of people with spacecraft?

Somewhere I read that the nearest earth-like planet is 19 light years away. If this is true, and there are no closer earth-like planets, do we have the knowledge, technology and resources to colonize ...