Space exploration once used to be the domain of highly trained astronauts but in the near future it will be open to professionals and amateur space enthusiasts alike thanks to organisations such as Mars Society, Planetary Society and Virgin Galactic, who are giving average people like you and me (with a large bag of cash of course) the chance to have their own Yuri Gagarin moment.
One of the most unchartered areas of study in space exploration however is interstellar flight. Travelling to the moon is one thing, but designing a spaceship capable of actually reaching our nearest star system is a whole other kettle of fish. It requires vast amounts of energy and a design that will endure extreme distances, which is why we don’t yet have the technologies available to allow mankind to explore a nearby star system. Alpha Centauri is 4.3 light years away or 40bn kilometers away; so travelling there with a good run of traffic would be a 100 year journey at least, requiring a consistent cruise-control speed of about 10% the speed of light, or 6bn miles per hour! Compare that with the Helios-2 spacecraft for example, the fastest human-made object travelling at 157,000 miles per hour.
A new research program run by my organisation, Icarus Interstellar, is bringing in scientists from around the world to aid in the design, development and construction of the first interstellar spacecraft in our lifetime. The founding members are volunteer scientists, researchers and enthusiasts who understand the incredible magnitude of such an ambitious endeavour and the scientific merit it brings.None of these ideas will work because they are far too impractical and prohibitively expensive. Human physiology simply cannot survive extremely long duration space travel. Interstellar travel has to be extremely rapid and safe, and at this point the only candidates that might fit those requirements are traversable wormholes and warp drives. To read more, click here.