Friday, May 13, 2011

Future of Human Exploration II

So let's finish this topic of human space flight. I'm definitely sure that we'd be able to colonize the rest the solar system specifically the moon, Mars, and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. A new engine has actually been designed that could be much faster than conventional rocket engines now. Called the VASIMR (Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket), this new engine creates ionized superheated plasma which it ejects from the rear of the ship pushing it forward. Although it gives less oomph than solid fuel rockets it is much more energy efficient and the vacuum of space lets the engine build up speed over time. To prevent the plasma from touching the engine VASIMR uses electro-magnets to create and maneuver the plasma out of the engine.  

The engine is estimated to be able to get a manned ship to mars in forty days given a power source of 200 megawatt source  which a VASIMR engine with such a power source has not been prototyped but should be able to be made within a reasonable amount of time. With this technology perfected interplanetary trade will definitely be feasible. 

As for extra solar travel one interesting design I saw was in Carl Sagan's "Cosmos". When hydrogen fusion is perfected the ship will use stocked up hydrogen for nuclear fusion to accelerate it to a descent fraction of the speed of light at that point the front of the ship will have a huge funnel multiple square miles in size will collect the few hydrogen atoms that float out in the deep space. At such high speeds even the fact that there a barely any hydrogen items the speed at which the ship goes it will collect enough to keep the hydrogen fusion going allowing the ship to carry less than enough fuel to travel such distances but the constant acceleration will still allow the ship to go around 90% the speed of light or maybe even past that. 

Even though habitable planets outside the solar system could be many light years causing the trip to last even more years than that but thats only relative to the earth and other "stationary" colonies. To the pilots and passengers on the ship time will pass by differently, the closer to the speed of light the less amount of time the trip seems to take (where to a photon the trip across galaxy takes instantly, also the distance between any to points to a photon is always zero, think about it), so a round trip to could take years on earth will seem like only a few months for the passenger (or even less depending on how fast the ship goes) giving you the twins paradox where to twins will end up different ages when one returns from a near light space trip (don't ask or me to explain exactly how the twin paradox works cause it's crazy cuz to the twin on the ship the twin on earth travels near the speed of light and should be younger than the pilot, it's got sumthing to do with the fact that it's the space twin that does the acceleration). While traveling between colonies would take a descent delay it's definitely possible once we can get near light speed travel. 

If we can somehow learn how to bend space and time itself and teleport across the universe faster than light other weird things can happen. Where the twin paradox occurs with near light speed and time stops when an observer travels at the speed of light well guess what one can actually travel back in time if one can travel faster than light. As far as I can tell our technology is nowhere near that point if that is even possible and I have no idea what consequences would happen if such technology is possible and how we could get around it.

Well thats pretty much what I have on my mind about space travel and "The Future of Human Exploration." Colonizing other planets and exploring the galaxy is important and necessary to our survival and development as a species and to our civilization. I aint no promising Star Wars (I'm an English guru!) but I think reasonable colonization and trade is possible within a mellenia.

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