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Space Science

Starships In a Century? 314

Posted by samzenpus
from the away-to-the-stars dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In the New York Times, Kenneth Chang writes about the 100-year starship conference, where 'an eclectic mix of engineers, scientists, science fiction fans, students and dreamers' discussed ideas for how to travel across interstellar space, including 'how to organize and finance a century-long project; whether civilization would survive, because an engine to propel a starship could also be used for a weapon to obliterate the planet; and whether people need to go along for the trip.' Some of the proposals were pretty far out, such as Joseph Breeden's concept for an engine-less starship (propelled using a gravity slingshot on a near-sun trajectory). Others were a little less forward thinking, although still futuristic by current standards of space exploration: nuclear rockets, fusion, lightsails, and so forth. So, can we go to the stars? Wait a hundred years, and we'll see!"
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Starships In a Century?

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  • In other words... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @03:49PM (#37766146)

    Sci Fi convention regurgitates things they've seen on TV so far.

    • Re:In other words... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dammital (220641) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @05:38PM (#37767610)

      No.

      It was 600 smart people all in one place: engineers, technical managers, educators, academics, NASA representatives from Ames and Glenn and MSFC, and everyman types like me, all of whom understood the magnitude of the challenge.

      It was a gathering where you could dare to use the word "starship" in a sentence and nobody would crack a smile.

      There were tracks on propulsion (light sails, nuclear thermal and hybrid nuclear technologies), habitat creation (bioengineering, microgravity challenges, plasma shields), education (there were lots of educators in the audience), organization, ethics. One university type - I forget his name - boldly asserted that there would be useful violations of the second law of thermodynamics in a couple of years. (I didn't quite believe that, so I did a little reading when I returned; it seems that the second "law" is more like a statistical assertion, so maybe he's got something. IANAPhysicist.)

      There was a track on fringe technologies too, those FTL and warp drives you laugh about. I didn't attend that one; at the conference wrap-up the track moderator only said politely that there "was no concensus".

      A double handful of SF authors were there and a couple of Hollywood types too, all conducting their own research.

      Nobody came here expecting to be beamed up. Nobody was thinking Flash Gordon or Jean Luc Picard. Everyone fully appreciated the immensity of the project, the audacity of such a thing, the difficulty of the undertaking. It was inspiring to be in the company of people who had thought seriously about some of the issues, and who dared to dream big. All brainstorming is like this.

      An underlying theme, mentioned several times during the conference, is that Earth "is a single point of failure".

      Per the organizers: "The Journal of the British Interplanetary Society will be publishing a select number of papers in a special issue. Date of the special issue has not yet been announced."

      • by Kozz (7764)

        Please mod up parent (and maybe down-mod grandparent, too, as overrated). Yes, the attendees are dreamers, but they really are long(est)-term planners of the most academic variety. Plenty of brains solving real (and distant) problems, not just writing a new movie or novel.

    • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

      Sci Fi convention regurgitates things they've seen on TV so far.

      ie. Slashdot.

  • plus general products hull
    • http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/ [projectrho.com]
      Beware - extreme nerdism and math.
      Make sure you click on the "show topic list" in the upper right of the page.

    • It seems to me, that even if we figured out how to get a fusion ramjet working there are a lot of issues simply with the nature of going fast that would prevent near light speed travel. The first is that while a ramjet will protect you from particles, it won't from light. At speeds high enough for a ramjet to function, the light reaching you would be so far blue-shifted that it would be like sitting in a gamma-ray furnace.

      Obviously you want to travels as close to the speed of light as possible, so that t
  • I can't read the paywalled article, but is the reporter confusing a "100-year starship" (i.e. a starship that makes a 100-year trip) with "100 years of stellar propulsion development"?

    • by luckymutt (996573)
      I believe this is the site for the project. [100yss.org]
      • by ThorGod (456163)

        From the "about" for the project:

        The 100 Year Starship Study is an effort seeded by DARPA to develop a viable and sustainable model for persistent, long-term, private-sector investment into the myriad of disciplines needed to make long-distance space travel practicable and feasible.

        The article didn't make it sound that official, but if it wasn't referring to your link, it should have been.

        What they're going to talk about next time they're together: http://www.100yss.org/agenda.html

    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      A 100-year trip would end with the travelers arriving in a star system already visited by people that left later than they themselves did.
      • An interesting conundrum, explored by many SF writers back in the day. For me the answer might well be, "That's OK, because if you hadn't taken that first step we wouldn't have made the progress that allowed us to get where we are now." One additional idea that has been explored is for the newer, faster ship to overtake the original and re-power it to go fast the rest of the way. Assuming that any interstellar ship would have been built in space in the first place, there's not much difference (other than

        • by Smallpond (221300)

          One additional idea that has been explored is for the newer, faster ship to overtake the original and re-power it to go fast the rest of the way.

          The problem is the delta-V between the first ship and the second, much-faster ship. It might not be practical to slow down, retrofit the first ship, speed up again and leave enough fuel for both ships to stop at the end of the journey.

          Also, it seems unlikely for an interstellar mission to carry live humans. G-limits, radiation limits and life support requirements suggest it would be better to carry the equipment needed to grow humans at the destination rather than carry them for the trip. Just wake up th

      • The logical answer is not to start until your trip time is short enough that a later, faster ship is likely to pass you. That means push propulsion development until it appears to stall. For example, if you can do 10% of the speed of light, that comes to a 43 year trip to Alpha Centauri. If it looks like you can increase performance to 11% within 4 years, keep working, cause that will cut 4 years off the trip time, and more for any longer trip. If it looks like you can't, go ahead and launch. Given tha

  • Unless we can harness the energy of the atom much better, and design propulsion systems around Fusion Explosions with enough power to hyper accelerate us at higher than gravitational effect of earth, star travel is going to be very unlikely. And nobody knows the effect of 2G acceleration over long term (probably worse than weightlessness) because we can't simulate it for more than very brief periods.

    We'll need something like Warp Fields that distort Space/Time in order to avoid the limitations of our earth

    • We need only perfect cryogenic technology; once we can preserve our bodies for hundreds of years on end, it won't really matter how long it takes to get to the next star. Indeed, it is more likely that a human designed AI piloted craft/probe will reach the next star before our biological selves. Of course, one hundred years from now, humans will most likely be very different than we are now (genetic, nono-machine enhancements ect...)
      • by Alyred (667815)
        Well, jeez... we should just freeze them now, ship them off, and when they get to the star, we'll have perfected a way to unfreeze/revive them and cure all their various ailments!

        ...wait. :)
    • Re:Probably Not (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vlm (69642) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @04:40PM (#37766870)

      Unless we can harness the energy of the atom much better, and design propulsion systems around Fusion Explosions with enough power to hyper accelerate us at higher than gravitational effect of earth, star travel is going to be very unlikely.

      Unnecessary. I'll never visit Fiji but humans DO have airline service to Fiji.

      How long can you stand to travel as opposed to being "home", lets say a year. Build a station, send it out one years distance, however far away that is. Build the next station, send it out two years distance. Keep pushing stuff on the train and you'll eventually hit the next star.

      Your argument is we "need" for some unspecified reason, to have all this high tech junk so there's only about 4 of these stations between us and the next star. My argument is who cares if there's 4 or 400 or 4 million stations between here and the next star, it'll all work just as well as a colonization / space travel policy. Much as I like the idea of air service to Fiji, I frankly don't care if I need to make 15 connections stops and transfers were I to try it. Even if my body could never reach Fiji, we still technically as a species have flight service to Fiji.

      The majority of the human population might therefore eventually live "enroute" on various stations. OK, so what?

      And nobody knows the effect of 2G acceleration over long term (probably worse than weightlessness) because we can't simulate it for more than very brief periods.

      Sure we can. Take a large (to get lots of data) melting-pot of a nation (to remove racial effects) and have their corporate owned government propagandize them to eat grains and corn syrup and other carbs until their weight doubles. Wait a lifetime, analyze the results. Hmm, I wonder where we could run this experiment? It would seem that a lifetime is not so good, a year or so is frankly no big deal.

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        The majority of the human population might therefore eventually live "enroute" on various stations. OK, so what?

        - yeah, let's just decide that we want to enslave generations of people to live in a tin can their entire lives without having any choice on the matter whatsoever.

        If they don't like it? Well, they can always just commit an interstellar suicide and open the hatches somehow or blow it up to smithereens.

        Let me guess, you aren't a big believer in individual human rights, are you?

        • - yeah, let's just decide that we want to enslave generations of people to live in a tin can their entire lives without having any choice on the matter whatsoever.

          If they don't like it? Well, they can always just commit an interstellar suicide and open the hatches somehow or blow it up to smithereens.

          Let me guess, you aren't a big believer in individual human rights, are you?

          And...is that terribly different than "just deciding" that some people will live in a favallia their entire lives, or Sudan, or Chinese villages, or Earth for that matter.

          If somebody decides to join a generational spaceship heading for some new planet, it's true that they make an irreversible choice for their children and grandchildren. But, the same statement is true for the person who decides to remain on earth. Besides, I highly doubt people will decide to leave on generation ships until they are much ni

    • Or we need to advance technology enough to be able to generate gravity. I remember some theory a guy proposed that allowed for conversion between Electromagnetism and Gravity but I can't for the life of me remember who the hell it was. He even designed a hypothetical device that could do the job.
      • Assuming you have a drive capable of continuous acceleration, gravity is a lot less of an issue then you might think. All you need to do is keep you rate of acceleration at 9.8m/s^2 and you essentially have artificial gravity. Not only that, but within a year you'll be pretty close to the speed of light (a whole other can of worms). I might be mistaken, but drives theoretically capable of 9.8m/s^2 have already been invented. A way to power them has not.
  • by Scareduck (177470) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @03:56PM (#37766252) Homepage Journal

    The standard razor for any vaporware tech is,

    "Five years away" = "we have the general physical principles down but there are a lot of implementation details unresolved".
    "Ten years away" = "we're not really sure about the physics, and/or the economic feasibility has yet to be established".
    "Twenty years away" = "some guy wrote about this in a journal and a few people in the field may believe it could work".
    Now, "100 years away" = "Not. Happening. In Your Lifetime, or anyone else's".

    • by jgtg32a (1173373)
      I was going to say why don't you just link to the relevant XKCD but I can't find it.
    • by Baloroth (2370816)
      I think it can be stated much simpler than that, actually. The only accurate predictions of future technology that can be made are those for technology that we can build at this very moment. So, the US Navy can make reasonable estimates to when rail-gun technology will be in use on their ships because they have working rail-guns, but no one can say when fusion power will be deployed. This is simply because science cannot predict it's own discoveries. And if it requires something we haven't discovered yet, t
  • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @03:57PM (#37766268) Journal

    Project Orion [wikipedia.org]

    The biggest design above is the "super" Orion design; at 8 million tonnes, it could easily be a city.[7] In interviews, the designers contemplated the large ship as a possible interstellar ark. This extreme design could be built with materials and techniques that could be obtained in 1958 or were anticipated to be available shortly after. The practical upper limit is likely to be higher with modern materials.

    I find all the BS that gets thrown around about how technology from the middle of the last century like space travel or fourth generation nuclear power is "only X decades away" rather annoying. It makes me feel like we're living in decline portrayed in the Foundation novels.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      A nuclear pulse rocket has one significant problem: it uses nuclear pulses.

      You could get away with blowing up nuclear weapons willy nilly during the 50s and even into the 70s...
      But today? Forget about it.

      • That should be irrelevant. We've got assloads of warheads just lying around, and a conventional rocket could provide the first leg propulsion so that no radioactive material concentrations fall back to earth. Space is already full of ionizing radiation. What do people think powers the sun? Unicorn farts?
        • What do people think powers the sun? Unicorn farts?

          No, Pegasus' farts. The wings are mainly for show; it's actually a horse-shaped dirigible.

        • by KiloByte (825081)

          Don't forget that facts and the general population don't mix. In popular opinion, "nukes = evil", and no amount of explanation will stop them from voting against you.

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            Luckily, not all countries have to worry about the general population voting. Those countries are more likely to achieve a lot of technology that the democratic people all say is "impossible".

      • by Dr. Spork (142693)
        The nukes would only start exploding once the whole thing is well clear of Earth. Don't forget that space is radioactive as fuck. A couple of thousand nukes will make exactly zero difference. The (already radioactive) solar wind will quickly sweep that stuff into interstellar space.
    • by Rei (128717) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @04:22PM (#37766618) Homepage

      Orion is such an obsolete concept, I don't know why people keep citing it. At least cite something like Medusa [harvard.edu]. It's superior to Orion in every way -- captures more energy, weighs less, exposes the crew to less radiation, has a gentler pusher stroke, scales down better, etc. Basically, you invert the paradigm; the explosions occur *ahead* of the spacecraft, which is *towed*, not pushed, by a large "parachute" that catches the explosive force.

      • by Dr. Spork (142693)
        Thanks for the link. I agree, it's a much better configuration than Orion.
      • by rubycodez (864176)
        and the best part is it can be done with existing technology, nothing needs to be invented. This should be rubbed in the face of those such as professor with no vision whose blog article was featured in recent slashdot story
    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      find all the BS that gets thrown around about how technology from the middle of the last century like space travel or fourth generation nuclear power is "only X decades away" rather annoying. It makes me feel like we're living in decline portrayed in the Foundation novels.

      Um, that's because we ARE living in decline. You don't need to read a SF book to read about what's going on here, just pick up a book on the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

  • Nice work, editors! (Score:4, Informative)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmhNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @03:58PM (#37766290) Journal

    Who let an article through with a paywalled source?

    SAMZENPUS!!!!

  • I recently read Vernor Vinge's Marooned in Realtime [amazon.com] and my head is still abuzz with speculation over the coming technological singularity. Consequently, I can't help but see these attempts at predicting the tech of a century hence as the equivalent of ancient Romans speculating on how many could fly. Just as we now laugh at the beliefs of the ancients (or even folks in the 19th century) for their belief that flight would be accomplished by flapping wings, surely these conceptions of spaceflight will seem
    • by ThorGod (456163)

      it may all prove superfluous

      You say that after reading a "far out there" prediction...so ironic!

    • I recently read Vernor Vinge's Marooned in Realtime [amazon.com] and my head is still abuzz with speculation over the coming technological singularity. Consequently, I can't help but see these attempts at predicting the tech of a century hence as the equivalent of ancient Romans speculating on how many could fly. Just as we now laugh at the beliefs of the ancients (or even folks in the 19th century) for their belief that flight would be accomplished by flapping wings, surely these conceptions of spaceflight will seem naive in a few decades or a century. Sure, maybe AI and limitless energy won't arrive so soon, so one feels a need to do such engineering now, but it may all prove superfluous.

      Ornithopters are possible and have been built, even a few manned versions. With a bit more development, with new materials and new technology they probably could be made more efficient but we've found better ways of achieving flight using the technology that we had in the 20th century, hence that is where most of the development has gone and that type of technology is more advanced.

      I wouldn't be too hard on old sci-fi predictions, some got it right as well. Didn't Jules Verne envision a future Paris full of

      • by Bucky24 (1943328)
        I read something (I think it may have been on /. actually) stating that the handheld communication device came about BECAUSE it was featured on star trek. Dunno how accurate that is but it's an interesting thought.
  • by Dogtanian (588974) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @04:04PM (#37766370) Homepage
    Does this mean if we settle on a planet going round some other star the city there will be built... on rock and roll?

    If so, I suspect that radio communication may prove a problem due to interference from some guy called Marconi playing the mamba. Personally, I don't care who goes to that type of place though.
  • by arcite (661011) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @04:07PM (#37766412)
    We went from the Wright Brother's primitive wooden airplane that carried two passengers and could fly for about a minute; fast forward to where we have an Airbus A380 that can carry around 900 passengers, fly 15,000kms at a speed of 900km/hour. That is progress.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No, fast forward to the SR-71 Blackbird built 50 years ago that flew faster than Mach 3. Everything since then has not been on fast forward.

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      As the other responder said, there hasn't been any significant progress in aviation for 50 years. The A380 is just a slightly improved version of something like the 747, which came out in the 60s IIRC. The only advances in that time have been some small improvements in fuel economy, and some big improvements in navigation (thanks to GPS), plus some big changes in avionics (thanks to flat-panel screens and computer). But overall, a passenger jet now isn't much different from a passenger jet from before I

  • We have the ability to send craft out of the solar system now.

    We could probably send a manned craft out of the solar system too... ... getting them back [and alive] may be a little bit more of a challenge however.

    • by Scutter (18425)

      We could probably send a manned craft out of the solar system too... ... getting them back [and alive] may be a little bit more of a challenge however.

      I think that's sort of the point of a 100-year starship. It's meant to be a colony ship, not a round-trip.

  • (don't know what they are saying, paywalls suck and leading me to one is irritating) ...to get off this rock - but I don't see us leaving the Solar system until long after we've spread out through the solar system itself - and that's going to be challenge enough for our species. The energy costs are prohibitive for any kind of 'commuting' from any planetary gravity well as it is, so we'll have to be so adept at space travel that we don't need to a) use any raw materials coming from planets and b) we'll hav

  • by rickb928 (945187) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @04:28PM (#37766700) Homepage Journal

    "propelled using a gravity slingshot on a near-sun trajectory"

    Nice idea, but Space is non-empty. there is enough dust and whatnot out there to slow such a ship and leave it slower and slower. Not good.

    And then, when you get where you're going (as if you're choosing where you go), you get to decelerate. Unless orbiting a star was the intention all along. In which case, we got this star right here, plenty of orbital slots available.

    No, we'll be using engines.

    • Traveling fast, far & for a long future time span means your real chances of space ship surface collision, erosion & even catastrophic failure in contact with small rocky or icy objects only tens of grams in size are extremely high.

      The chance of "seeing" a small object that weighs a pound when you are travelling at 1000-10,000 km/hr is remote and even more remote that you would have the energy or the strength of the vessel to rapidly change its direction in time to miss the object.

      Surviving and then

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        Traveling fast, far & for a long future time span means your real chances of space ship surface collision, erosion & even catastrophic failure in contact with small rocky or icy objects only tens of grams in size are extremely high.

        As far as we can tell, there seem to be very few objects that are tens of grams in size in interstellar space. And space is really, really big so the odds of hitting one when travelling at really high speed are really small.

        I give it my PITS ranking: Pie in the Sky

        Wrong, but thanks for playing.

      • by rickb928 (945187)

        Electrostatic shielding? Another hundred years...

    • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

      You should inform Dr. Breeden of his error. I'm sure he'd be eager to see your calculations.

      • by rickb928 (945187)

        Be a smartass all you want. Flinging a starship around the Sun and expecting it to coast to a nearby star isn't as easy as the calculations might make it seem. Ny question is about the inevitable collisions with stuff, and IF this was factored in.

        But the whole concept is so PITS we can cut then all some slack.

  • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @04:28PM (#37766712)

    Undiscussed problem areas:

    1) It seems a stable biosphere is bigger than "biosphere II" which was pretty freaking big for just a couple people.

    2) It seems humanity needs something a bit bigger than West Virginia to not screw up genetically. Too much kissing cousins is not so good. I did date a total hottie from WV in the 90s who made jokes about her home states genetic issues, its not that they're ALL messed up, just a high (and growing?) proportion, which is worrisome. On the other hand, "tropical islands" seem to have turned out OK.

    3) Who goes? The "Red/Green/Blue Mars trilogy" implied all the Nobel prize winners might be a winning combination, for them, but I'm thinking maybe all the politicians, mbas, and illegals might be a winner, for us. Also see HHGTTG.

    • The problems with 'inbreeding' in a population are solved within a finite number of generations, that's why island and remote jungle populations can exist in isolation with relatively low numbers. Fact is, cold though it may be, most of the harmful genetic traits that are exaggerated by the first few generations of a small population die off with relative swiftness. The challenge that modern man would face in such a scenario would be letting that happen, since we have a habit of trying to save everybody reg
  • In 1985 was tought that we would have by now in every home fusion reactors, antigrav vehicles, and even fax machines under each tv set. And internet was somewhat absent. To have starships in 100 years not just must be practical (like in "not requiring the energy output of our entire planet for a year to get to other star") but also the culture (as in "is profitable to build and investigate with that goal") should go in the same direction.

    Shorter term goals, like developing self-sustained colonies in space

    • by epine (68316)

      In 1985 was thought that we would have by now

      Dyslexic much? Don't think you meant 1895, though it's more plausible than what you wrote. 1958 is the only vaguely plausible coordinate. The people who talked up these techno-fantasies then were the same people on the waiting list for LSD.

      In 1984 I was handed some bizarre Tokamak fusion propaganda by some kook in the SF airport which seemed like it came from a different planet. Many voices in the GOP now sound like they hail from the same planet. Useful as a

  • When's the 100 year butler robots and 100 year flying cars convention coming?

  • Some of the proposals were pretty far out, such as Joseph Breeden's concept for an engine-less starship (propelled using a gravity slingshot on a near-sun trajectory).

    Our current interstellar ships all used a slingshot. In fact, we couldn't leave the Solar system with just engines.

    But my opninion is that we should make interplanetary travel more efficient before we even think of interstellar. Our own star system still has many interesting things.

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      For resources, our own star system is chock full of untapped resources: asteroids, the moon, Mars, etc. could all be mined. For energy, we have plenty coming from a giant fusion reactor we call "Sun". However, for nice places to live there's only one place, and that's Earth. Moon is too small and has no atmosphere. Mars is too small (only 1/3 Earth gravity) and doesn't have enough of an atmosphere and is too cold, and has no magnetosphere. Venus is just the right size and gravity, but it's way too hot

  • First, please don't link an article from behind a paywall. I'm sure it's been said before but it's quite annoying.

    Some of the proposals were pretty far out, such as Joseph Breeden's concept for an engine-less starship (propelled using a gravity slingshot on a near-sun trajectory)

    Since the actual site was scarce on details I'm wondering how this guy expects to get to the sun (much less escape earths' atmosphere) without an engine. This is a great idea but I still think it's better to figure out how to make a permanent space station in earth's orbit. We are so far behind a starship right now that we (usa) can't even get to our own space station without someone else helpi

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      If we wait around for our race to "mature", I don't think it's going to happen at all. Humans tend to only do great things when pushed into it by need.

      The space station in Earth orbit has one big problem: radiation. It'll require a lot of shielding to be safe for long-term habitation.

  • I'll be happy if we have something that lets us mere Humans putter about in the inner solar system (Jupiter and sunward) within the next 100 years. Interstellar is just wishfull thinking...
  • by Caerdwyn (829058) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @05:09PM (#37767226) Journal

    We will have interstellar travel when we decide that interstellar travel is more important than bread-and-circuses, that personal responsibility is more rewarding than entitlements, and that "long term investing" involves a time period greater than one fiscal quarter.

    ...yeah. I'll get back to you on that.

    • ...you realize, of course, that the "bread-and-circuses" existed to keep the quite literally starving poor from tearing the rich limb from limb and possibly actually consuming them, right? And that "entitlements" exist because all of the personal responsibility in the world doesn't keep bad things from happening to good, responsible people? I realize that fiscal conservatism is the hip new thing these days, but seriously, this conversation benefits in no way from these cheap little shots at what you obvio
  • Before we start talking about space flight and getting us all excited, lets get that whole living to 150 years old [theage.com.au] thing figured out first so we can all enjoy the awesomeness of space travel before we die of over population!
  • I would really like us to start working (conceptually for the first few decades) on a colonization ship that we would send, ASAP, to the nearest habitable extrasolar planet we find. Yes, it would be slow, and if all goes well, ships launched later will beat it to the destination, perhaps by centuries. But not all might go well, and if it doesn't, I'd like the comfort of knowing that there's a place far away where humanity (and other life) got a clean start.

    Of course, a ship that we could power with this c

  • Since I was a small child at Expo 63 and Expo 67, they have been promising fusion power and interstellar travel in 10-20 years ...

    Let's get real and realize we're more likely to be able to use technologies we actually have patents for now, not pipe dreams that are always "in the future".

    Robots we send off into space will do perfectly well, and then they can merge with alien civilizations and come back to destroy their makers.

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