Questions tagged [interstellar-travel]

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

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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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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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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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133 views

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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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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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
677 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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4answers
494 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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172 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
137 views

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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549 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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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
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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. ...
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2answers
278 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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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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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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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
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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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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
126 views

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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1answer
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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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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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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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193 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
561 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
202 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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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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107 views

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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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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363 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 ...
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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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184 views

Use of compressed gases for space travel

To travel once in space, not only using gravity as a method of propelling, could pressurised gases work? The ubiquity of gases such as helium or hydrogen being brought into the craft, once compressed ...
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1answer
101 views

Current biggest challenge [closed]

What is regarded as the current single biggest challenge/hurdle limiting space exploration? Once that tipping point has past it would pave the way for future exploration to dramatically increase.
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1k views

Can we speed up spacecraft to suitable interstellar travel speed using oscillating gravity assists on planets on opposite sides of the solar system?

I recently calculated using $E = 0.5mv^2$ that one kilogram of mass traveling at one tenth of the speed of light would have a kinetic energy of 449.4 trillion joules. Relativistic effects are ...
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Can the sun/Venus be used to slingshot back out into the outer solar system fast? [duplicate]

I'm not a physicist or rocket man, but I laid awake thinking about this all night and I just wanted expert corrections to help with my basic understanding. So... 483,000 miles per hour is how fast our ...
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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 ...
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1answer
300 views

What objects travel at the speed of light? [closed]

What elements travel at the speed of light. I was under the impression it was light and gravity but apparently electromagnetic waves (radio waves) travel that fast as well. And is element the right ...
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2answers
441 views

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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498 views

Which spacecraft will be the first for which the Sun would become the second brightest object in the sky?

Which spacecraft will be the first for which the Sun would become the second brightest object in the sky? When that will happen and how far? What would be the most efficient direction to fly in ...
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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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1answer
140 views

Does SETI perform search of extremely low bandwidth signals?

Sending a signal at interstellar distance requires enormous power - something of order not too far from energies of the stars. Even if we harness the power of stars, modulating that signal would take ...
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5answers
544 views

How might Earth's location be referenced in stellar terms?

Apologies if this has been asked before using terminology for somebody more familiar with the subject matter. I've searched but cannot find an answer. Assuming space travel was possible (to other ...
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4answers
721 views

Is it pure luck that the voyager 1 survived to travel beyond our solar system in interstellar space?

A random question. At the very first try we succeeded. Though it might not be strange, What was the probability of surviving so long with so many external variables and constants.?
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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 ...
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1answer
244 views

Navigating to Proxima-B

What sorts of unique problems are there with planning a trajectory to Proxima Centauri, besides it being out of the plane of the ecliptic? (I'm guessing if you've got the juice to make it there, ...
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1answer
159 views

How to go about calculating the size and energy requirements for a space-based linear accelerator or railgun to accelerate small probes?

Apologies for the long question. With all the speculation surrounding the newly-discovered Earth-sized planets a "mere" 40 ly distant, I'm revisiting earlier musings on ways to send interstellar ...
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1answer
254 views

How close to Jupiter does a spacecraft need to get in order to gain maximum gravity assist and Oberth effect bonus for leaving the Solar System?

Given that a spacecraft's purpose is to leave the Solar System as fast as possible, how deep into Jupiter's gravity well would be optimal for an assist in the planet's orbital direction? Jupiter's max ...
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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 ...
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608 views

Best time to Alpha Centauri with Solar Slingshot?

I saw these two links, and they gave me a question: http://www.space.com/35577-looking-at-alpha-centauri-stars-next-door.html http://io9.gizmodo.com/5786083/what-are-the-fastest-spacecrafts-ever-...