Interstellar travel won’t be possible for at least 200 years, according to a former NASA propulsion scientist who has some new calculations. And by then, the spaceships we would design for the trip will be obsolete.
Forget cost, political will and all the other variables — simply obtaining enough energy will take until 2196, according to Marc Millis, former head of NASA's Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project and founder of the Tau Zero Foundation, which supports interstellar travel research.
IKAROS would do well to watch its back, for the Japanese solar-sailing spacecraft may just have some competition that's fast enough to catch up. The EU is funding a three-year project at the Finnish Meteorological Institute to build the fastest man-made device in the universe: an electric sail, or ESAIL, that researchers say could make Pluto in just five years' time.
Befitting its mission to promote international cooperation and celebrate our shared world heritage, the United Nations is sending a $5 million satellite into space to find out whether poo can be used as fuel.
Let's face it, sometime within the next century or so, overpopulation, the exhaustion of natural resources, an alien invasion -- or perhaps the optimistic spirit of adventure -- will force us to leave Earth in search of a new habitat. Earlier this week, NASA and DARPA announced a preliminary "Hundred-Year Starship" program for sending pioneers on permanent missions to Mars. To many, relocation from Earth sounds like a glorified exile, but some retro-futuristic eye candy from the Popular Sciencearchives will surely change their minds.
The world’s leading space agencies are reportedly discussing the use of the International Space Station as a launch pad for a manned trip around the moon. The goal would be to test whether the station could be a base camp for missions to asteroids and Mars, the BBC reports today.
It’s sink or sail time for Japan’s IKAROS spacecraft, and according to initial reports from JAXA the unfurling of the first solar sail deployed for actual deep space travel went off without a hitch.
But the successful sail deployment isn’t a guarantee of success. IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun) still has to get moving, and mission handlers say in their blog posts today that it will be a few weeks before we know if the sail is really working the way it is supposed to.
NASA has a fine track record when it comes to winning space races, so it should come as no surprise that the space agency's Dawn spacecraft has set a new record for velocity change produced by spacecraft propulsion somewhere out in the middle of the asteroid belt. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported yesterday that the ion-propelled Dawn has accumulated 9,600 miles per hour of velocity since separating from its final rocket stage, setting a record for engine-powered spacecraft.
We've been suffering futuristic city withdrawal since returning from the Shanghai World Expo 2010 last week, where we covered many exciting (and, alas, not-so-exciting) examples of progressive urban development.
Naturally, we turned to the archives for our fix of visionary city designs, and as you would expect, they are abundant with beautifully-illustrated imaginings of future metropolises since the 19th century.
The first two members of Russia's upcoming 18-month "Mars mission" have been selected by the European Space Agency; Frenchman Romain Charles and Colombian-Italian Diego Urbina will join 3 Russians and one Chinese national in the Mars500 spaceship, which will carry out a 520-day simulated mission to Mars beginning June 3.
Let's hope they all get along.
After lots of talk and testing, Japanese researchers are ready to go space sailing. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced its intention to launch its first "space yacht" propelled by solar sails into the heavens on May 18. Ikaros -- the Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun -- will cruise through the solar system powered by solar particles that bounce of its giant, ultra-thin sails.