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  1. #1
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    Default Interstellar Travel Propulsion Modes

    Which of the following modes of propulsion would be most practical to conduct interstellar travel in the future: nuclear power or matter/antimatter, or laser sails.

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    FRACTALICIOUS phobik's Avatar
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  3. #3
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    Yes, the warp drive. So far the only way we know of that would allow faster-than-light space travel, without breaking the universal speed limit (assuming we got that right).

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    Phobik and Bubble, indeed I agree that wormholes would work wonders in annihilating the barriers of distance as a means of interstellar travel, but the sad part is you see, I'm doing a school project, and the professor doesn't want methods that are too flighty. That's why only that boring practical crap was mentioned.

    But yes, wormholes could be the 'cosmic key' in altering the fabric of space-time and the currents it flows in. It may even open gateways to other worlds, or other dimensions. We could find our way to Heaven!

    I guess it all starts with enlightenment, by knowing the mechanisms by which the world works, and using those as tools to to determine the motion and shape the course of the Universe.

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    If we're talking about breaking the speed of light then a wormhole or warp drive. If we are talking about feasible methods of interstellar colonisation then utilise embryo space colonisation (which could be installed in a spaceship of similar size to conventional spacecraft) with rocket propulsion but also with solar sails. You pass the space ship around the sun to gain speed and at the right time you open the Solar Sails. The ship will travel for thousands of years and power is restored via solar radiation interacting with solar panels on the hull. The ship's computer (beyond basic freezing maintenace) comes online and guides the ship down to a new planet. Or something alone those lines.

    If you take the requirement of getting humans to other star systems out of the equation then it's pretty simple.

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    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RaptorWizard View Post
    Which of the following modes of propulsion would be most practical to conduct interstellar travel in the future: nuclear power or matter/antimatter, or laser sails.
    Laser sails, although some of this depends on the scale we are talking about. Sails can accelerate small objects, but they cannot brake and tend to accelerate for very small periods of time. In terms of interstellar times, that means centuries+ before reaching the next solar system.

    The fundamental problem with nuclear power is waste heat. Space gives you nowhere to vent heat into; almost any long-term trip would turn the vessel into an oven.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    Laser sails, although some of this depends on the scale we are talking about. Sails can accelerate small objects, but they cannot brake and tend to accelerate for very small periods of time. In terms of interstellar times, that means centuries+ before reaching the next solar system.

    The fundamental problem with nuclear power is waste heat. Space gives you nowhere to vent heat into; almost any long-term trip would turn the vessel into an oven.
    I would agree that laser sails seem most promising, but waste heat is not just a problem limited to nuclear power (any power system that converts energy into heat, and then into useful work will have this issue), and radiative cooling is still an option in space (this is done for the International Space Station, for instance...and also how we get energy from the sun). One of the issues is that "experts" disagree on how hot we can possibly make radiators by a factor 10. Since the Stefan Boltzmann Law says that the power dissipation of a radiator is proportional to fourth power of temperature, this is a difference in estimation of radiator surface area by a factor of 10000. (This is the difference between the floor space of a small room and that of a city block)

    Besides which, prediction and investment in single futures (especially so long into the future) seems like folly to me. There is a "distribution" of possibly futures, and the better our strategies can capture the distribution the better off we'll be. Also, as I've stated many timed before, research is a networked good. It makes no sense to have a single telephone in the "most important" house.

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