YEAR POSTED: 2009
In almost every single space opera or space western science fiction novel ever written. It is basically the leading staple of all science fiction novels. Star Trek and Star Wars are leading examples of stories involving the heavy use of space travel. Undoubtedly, humanity has been to space hundreds of times as a whole; however, current space travel is tremendously technologically primordial. We do not yet have the technology to travel at even 0.0003% the speed of light, and this is calculated with the fastest space probe ever sent by man. Evidently, humanity has some room for improvement... such as travelling the world at extreme speeds anywhere anyhow
As said before, the fastest object ever made and sent into to space, Helios II, by humanity was recorded at just over 157,070 miles per hour, whereas the speed of light is beyond four thousand times faster at approximately 669,600,000 miles per hour, nearly 186,000 miles per second.
Even the fastest manmade space speed record is even slower than 157,000 miles per hour. The Apollo missions that brought twelve brave men to another celestial surface for the first time in human history traveled at approximately 25,000 miles per hour, a sluggish 0.00004% the actual speed of light. Think about it, for light to arrive at the lunar surface from Earth it takes roughly 1.28 seconds, whereas humanity takes over four days to travel the same distance.
Future Speed Calculations
The following figures are calculated as if the miles per hour was constant through the trip. This means that you instantly achieve velocity and instantaneously stop at the destination.
To The Moon
- 25,000 MPH = 9.56 Hours
- 50,000 MPH = 4.78 Hours
- 100,000 MPH = 2.39 Hours
- 250,000 MPH = 57.36 Minutes
- 500,000 MPH = 28.68 Minutes
- 1,000,000 MPH = 14.34 Minutes
- 10,000,000 MPH = 1.43 Minutes
- 669,600,000 MPH = 1.28 Seconds
- 25,000 MPH = 81.67 Days
- 50,000 MPH = 40.84 Days
- 100,000 MPH = 20.42 Days
- 250,000 MPH = 8.17 Days
- 500,000 MPH = 4.09 Days
- 1,000,000 MPH = 2.05 Days
- 10,000,000 MPH = 4.92 Hours
- 669,600,000 MPH = 4.39 Minutes
To Proxima Centauri
Keep in mind that Proxima Centauri is the very closest stellar body next to our Sun. If it takes over four years to get there travelling at the speed of light, it is not likely that humanity will get very far from home.
- 25,000 MPH = 112,740.85 Years
- 50,000 MPH = 56,370.43 Years
- 100,000 MPH = 28,185.22 Years
- 250,000 MPH = 11,274.09 Years
- 500,000 MPH = 5,637.05 Years
- 1,000,000 MPH = 2,818.53 Years
- 10,000,000 MPH = 281.85 Years
- 669,600,000 MPH = 4.21 Years
Considering that over the past fifty years spacecraft propulsion has not increase signifantly enough to produce a viable speed, it is unlikely that we as a species will achieve an extraordinary boost in average speed within the near future. The propellants have changed, but only slightly, and not nearly enough to allow for large-scale interplanetary space travel; however, it is possible that humanity is on the very edge of a tremendous breakthrough in propulsion science.
Plasma propulsion, the use of gases super-heated to a temperature hotter than the core of the sun, also known as fusion technology, expels the billion-degree gases out of the back of a spacecraft to produce unbelievable thrust. Using this technology, humanity may be able to achieve an unheard of speed of one quarter of one million miles per hour. This propulsion advancement could come within the near future; as little as fifty years from now. All and all, it will still be light-years away until we can even think about traveling to Proxima Centauri, but there is another variety of propulsion that upstages all the others combined.
In the very beginning of the universe, the Big Bang constructed two forms of matter: matter and antimatter. These forms of matter annihilate each other upon impact with a perfect one hundred percent energy conversion. Fortunately, matter won over antimatter with the ratio 1,000,000,001:1,000,000,000. Antimatter, if it is ever used as a spacecraft propellant, will allow for colossally swift space travel; potentially allowing us to travel at the speed of light.
Unfortunately for humanity, over 99.999% of antimatter generated at the beginning of the universe does not exist to this day. Additonally, the substance is tremendously difficult to produce. Out of all the producers in the entire world, less than one microgram has been manufactured over the last few decades. CERN, the leading producer of antimatter in the world, explained that it would have to run its particle accelerators for one hundred billion years in order to generate a feasibly usable amount with their current production rates.
There is also the excessive dilemma of pecuniary feasability; it isn't feasible. Antimatter is the most expensive material known to mankind. Just one milligram could be priced as high as $62.5 trillion, meaning that just one gram would cost the world over fifty quadrillion US dollars. Evidently, humanity would necessitate a cheaper and easier solution to obtaining antimatter. Regrettably, as I look inside my crystal ball, humanity will not be able to achieve this within a likely timeframe of your grandchildren's grandchildren. It will most likely be hundreds of years, possibly the twenty-fifth century, before antimatter is used as a viable spacecraft propellant.
- Solid Rocket
- Hybrid Rocket
- Monopropellant Rocket
- Bipropellant Rocket
- Tripropellant Rocket
- Resistojet Rocket
- Arcjet Rocket
- Hall Effect Thruster (HET)
- Electrostatic Ion Thruster
- Field Emission Electric Propulsion (FEEP)
- Pulsed Plasma Thruster (PPT)
- Pulsed Inductive Thruster (PIT)
Currently Feasible Propulsion
- Solar Sails
- Tether Propulsion
- Launch Loop
- Mass Drivers
- Magnetic Field Oscillating Amplified Thruster
- Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR)
- Magnetoplasmadynamic Thruster (MPD)
- Nuclear Thermal Rocket
- Solar Thermal Rocket
- Radioisotope Rocket
- Air-Augmented Rocket
- Liquid Air Cycle Engine
- Dual Mode Propulsion Rocket
- Nuclear Electric Rocket
Distant Future Propulsion
- Magnetic Sails
- Mini-Magnetospheric Plasma Propulsion
- Nuclear Pulse Propulsion
- Gas Core Reactor Rocket
- Nuclear Salt-Water Rocket
- Beam-Powered Propulsion
- Fission Sails
- Fission-Fragment Rocket
- Nuclear Photonic Rocket
- Fusion Rocket
Presently Impossible Propulsion
- Bussard Ramjet
- Gravitoelectromagnetic Toroidal Launchers
- Gravitic Propulsion
- Impulse Drive
- Hyper-impulse Drive
- Antimatter Rocket
- Zero-point Rocket
- Inertialess Drive
- Warp Drive
- Einstein-Rosen Bridge a.k.a. wormhole
It was once believed that nothing in the entire universe could travel faster than light; that 186,000 miles per second was the universal speed limit of everything. This theory was assumed correct until the hypothetical discovery of a heavy subatomic particle which can travel beyond the speed of light, known as tachyons. Under this discovery, numerous scientists aspire to be able to travel faster-than-light.
One of the only known possible ways for humans to travel beyond the universe's speed limit is by building a so-called warp drive. Theorized by Miguel Alcubierre, the warp drive is a popular method of space travel in many science fiction novels. The process involves expanding space behind a spacecraft and contracting space in front of it, essentially creating a bubble in which a spacecraft rides on to achieve faster-than-light travel.
Every one knows that the shortest distance between Point A and Point B is a line; however, most people do not realize that they are completely misinformed of this fact. In actuality, the shortest distance between the two points is if you fold them closer together and then travel the distance between them, known as an Einstein-Rosen Bridge, or more commonly, a wormhole. For example, say Point A is on one end of a twelve inch wide sheet of paper and Point B is on the other side. Naturally, one would expect the shortest distance between them to be twelve inches. This is only true if you do not fold the paper in half, in which case the shortest distance is significantly decreased.
The same concept can be used to travel enormous distances across the vastness of space. If you fold one part of the universe on top of another part that is generally millions of light-years away, the distance between the parts of space can be traversed in just few weeks. Obviously, this technology would require unfathomable amounts of energy, but with this concept, humanity could traverse the boundaries of space in mere months.