84 votes
Accepted

Can Voyager 1 reach the Andromeda Galaxy?

Technically, yes While Voyager 1 lacks the velocity necessary to escape the Milky Way galaxy, it doesn't actually need to. Because the Milky Way galaxy itself will collide and begin to merge with the ...
zibadawa timmy's user avatar
83 votes

Time at 1 g acceleration to travel 100 000 light years

Nonrelativistic solution The variables used will be $x$ for the distance travelled $v$ for velocity $a$ for acceleration ($1~\mathrm{g}$) $t$ for the time $c$ for the speed of light. Non braking ...
Hans's user avatar
  • 3,566
76 votes

Can Voyager 1 reach the Andromeda Galaxy?

no. Voyager 1 is currently orbiting the center of the Milky Way, which has an escape velocity of $550 \ \text{km}\ \text{s}^{-1}$ at the Sun's position, while the Sun orbits at $\sim 220 \ \text{km}\ \...
WarpPrime's user avatar
  • 3,105
39 votes
Accepted

Speed to maneuver with flaps and ailerons in interstellar dust

It is not only how fast the airfoil has to travel, but also how large the airfoil must be to even have fluid-dynamics-like behavior. Because of the low density of particles in the interstellar medium, ...
WaterMolecule's user avatar
37 votes
Accepted

Do things get dirty in space?

Spooky This one is subjective. To some, just finding an abandoned spaceship would be spooky. I'll say there's probably not a lot that has to happen to evoke this feeling. Rusted Actually, unless ...
called2voyage's user avatar
  • 23.7k
32 votes
Accepted

Interstellar Travel Thought Experiment

Does this logic make sense? Has anyone thought of this before? Yes, it's been considered. In the literature it's known as the "incentive trap". There are a couple of academic papers on it, ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
30 votes
Accepted

How feasible would this mission to Proxima Centauri be?

Unless I am mistaken, the amount of speed a gravitational slingshot can add is less than twice the orbital speed of the planet being used. Mercury's orbital speed is the fastest, at a little over 47 ...
Mark Foskey's user avatar
  • 10.5k
28 votes
Accepted

What processes create an object with an interstellar velocity?

The answer to 'how can it come blazing in with enough energy to exit again' is that if it started outside the solar system it would have been unusual for it to NOT leave again, since it would have ...
GremlinWranger's user avatar
25 votes
Accepted

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

Why the Pioneers didn't last as long: The Pioneers were a low-budget mission just to test if flying to the outer planets was feasible They used a smaller radio transmitter (8 W vs. 23 W) and antenna ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 127k
24 votes
Accepted

What is the most fuel efficient way out of the Solar System?

The most fuel efficient way to leave the solar system at present, is to launch into a trajectory that (like that used for Gallileo) may well involve one or several gravity assists from Earth or Venus, ...
Steve Linton's user avatar
  • 19.6k
23 votes
Accepted

Overcoming the speed of light thanks to ion thrusters

The expression $v_e = \sqrt{\frac{2Vq}{m}}$ is a non-relativistic approximation. This is quite valid when the exhaust velocity is small compared to the speed of light, which is the case for ion ...
David Hammen's user avatar
  • 73.8k
19 votes
Accepted

What limits the speed at which rocket fuel is expelled?

The core of your question is about real, "normal" engine exhaust velocities. The fastest we get so far from practical, in-production engines is about 4,440 m/s, Space Shuttle main engines with liquid ...
Tom Spilker's user avatar
  • 18.3k
18 votes
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Where is Voyager 1 now (2021)?

Voyager 1 and 2 are still in the "neighborhood" of our solar system and very close to our Sun compared to any other star. They are roughly three times farther from the Sun than Neptune and ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
16 votes

How much light is there on the way from Earth to Proxima Centauri?

No, the power collected by solar panels is reduced by the square of the distance from the light source. At the Earth's distance from the sun, the energy of sunlight is about 1300 watts per square ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
16 votes

How long could it take us to reach Alpha Centauri with current technology?

Current technology can't get us anywhere close to the speed of light (c); the Voyager probes are moving at something on the order of 1/17500 c. At speeds like that, it's about 75,000 years to Alpha ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
15 votes

Travel Speed in Space

Currently functional and proven technology is limited to basically no interstellar travel at all. To reach one of our stellar neighbors (like Proxima Centauri), one of the fastest space probes we have ...
Dragongeek's user avatar
  • 18.7k
14 votes

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

It can't be pure luck, seeing as how both Voyager spacecraft are still operating today. If it were just one, you might chalk it up to luck. Both still working means they must have been built really ...
Mark Adler's user avatar
  • 58.1k
14 votes

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

Accumulating 0.1c (30000 km/s) with gravity turns alone within the bounds of Solar system isn't possible. Reason is: system escape velocity (sometimes referred to as third cosmic velocity) is about ...
ZuOverture's user avatar
13 votes
Accepted

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

Like the lower left part of the image below. Define a set of pulsars through describing proportions between their frequencies. Define distances from each of them. This uniquely identifies a point in ...
SF.'s user avatar
  • 55k
13 votes

What limits the speed at which rocket fuel is expelled?

The nozzle is the part of a rocket that limits the speed of the exhaust velocity. (It's also the part that converts the pressure and temperature of the expanding propellant into velocity.) The speed ...
Erin Anne's user avatar
  • 10.8k
13 votes

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

Based on this answer: $$E \approx \frac{1}{2} m v^2 = \frac{1}{2} m c^2 \left(\frac{v}{c}\right)^2$$ The mass of a proton $m_P c^2$ is about 938 MeV, so if an innocent atom of hydrogen or bare proton ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
12 votes
Accepted

Interplanetary space debris

Space is in general an empty place, and debris is only a problem in Earth orbit. Even there, the amount of debris is only considerable in popular orbits like GEO. The reason is in part that there have ...
SE - stop firing the good guys's user avatar
12 votes

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

Given that the interstellar medium (ISM) has a density of about 1 atom per cubic centimeter and given that laser propulsion could, in theory, accelerate a spacecraft to 30% of the speed of light in ...
called2voyage's user avatar
  • 23.7k
12 votes
Accepted

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

As a reference, part of this question I answered at Astronomy.SE. The closest point at which the Sun would not be the brightest object in the sky is if we headed directly towards Sirius A, at a ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
12 votes

Could a Falcon Heavy assembly or something similar be useful for deep space missions?

A Falcon Heavy on the launch pad masses about 1400 tons. Its payload to low orbit is about 64 tons (fully expendable) (both figures from wikipedia). So it would take, not 2, but about 22 Falcon Heavy'...
Steve Linton's user avatar
  • 19.6k
12 votes

What processes create an object with an interstellar velocity?

This is a very generic answer: A gravitationally bound system has a tendency to become more compact. As this happens, the gravitational potential energy becomes more negative. The energy that is lost ...
Roger Wood's user avatar
  • 3,844
11 votes
Accepted

Can we not get outside the Local Galactic group?

Your math is fine, but the speed of the fastest probe we have now is no indication of what is possible. 238 km/s is less than a thousandth of the speed of light. Laser- or maser-powered light sails ...
kim holder's user avatar
  • 21.3k
11 votes

Could a Falcon Heavy assembly or something similar be useful for deep space missions?

In some ways, you are describing in principle, but not specifically the approach SpaceX intends to use with the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR). The booster stage (31!!!) Raptor engines sometimes called BFR, ...
geoffc's user avatar
  • 79.3k
11 votes

Speed to maneuver with flaps and ailerons in interstellar dust

The density of the interstellar gas and dust medium varies widely, but I estimate that for fairly dense regions (1 million hydrogen atoms per cc), you get about 1 Newton of lift from a meter-square ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
11 votes
Accepted

Can centrifugal force actually overcome the health problems of microgravity?

First, I want to get out of the way that the equivalence principle, which is well supported by experiment, contends that gravity and acceleration are one in the same: "pseudo"-gravity caused by ...
WaterMolecule's user avatar

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