A spacecraft design expert discusses the feasibility of interstellar travel


A spacecraft design expert discusses the feasibility of interstellar travel

Humans likely won’t have the ability to visit the TOI 700e planet anytime soon, says Dr. Hank Bernica, Coordinator’s Distinguished Teaching Professor of Aerospace Engineering and spacecraft design expert at Missouri S&T. Credit: Michael Pierce/Missouri S&T.

NASA researchers recently announced the discovery of another planet about 95% the size of Earth, 100 light-years away that could sustain life.


Could this new discovery lead to humans one day traveling to the planet TOI 700 e and enjoying its resources, such as the potential of liquid water? This is a question people may naturally ask, but they may not like the current answer.

“It won’t happen in our lifetime, but it’s great to discuss it,” said Dr. Hank Bernica, Coordinator Distinguished Teaching Professor of Aeronautical Engineering at Missouri S&T. “This planet is 100 light years away. That means if we develop a Space ship To go at the speed of light, it would take 100 years to reach this destination.”

the The speed of light 186,000 miles per second. Pernicka, an expert on Spacecraft designThe first issue to consider, he says, is getting a car up to the necessary speeds Interstellar travel.

“There’s going to be a lot of shoppers with this one, the first of which is to get this fast,” he says. “The concept of a light year and the distance involved in that travel is amazing.”

Another area to consider, Bernica says, is the number of uncertainties related to the spacecraft itself.

“When traveling at these speeds, there are going to be a great deal of variables to consider,” he says. “For example, even a small piece of debris in a spacecraft’s path can do a great deal of damage.”

The manner in which the spacecraft is fueled must also be considered. Currently, any long-range missions sponsored by NASA use nuclear power, and that fuel source It will drain eventually.

For example, NASA’s Voyager 1, which was launched in 1977 and is the only spacecraft to travel to interstellar space, likely to run out of fuel in the next few years. This is amazing space probewhich is traveling at about 38,000 miles per hour, is now more than 14.8 billion miles from Earth.

“Voyager 1 has been on an amazing journey and blows all of NASA’s expectations out of the water, but this is still nowhere near as far as one light-year,” Bernica says.

The key to reaching the speeds needed one day, Bernica says, may lie in the concept of solar sailing, which would propel spacecraft using the sun’s radiation pressure. Another option might be to use a wormhole, he says, but neither option will be possible anytime soon.

“With a wormhole, that would almost be a bit of a cheat,” he says. “However, it could work in theory. In that case, we would need to advance the spacecraft so that it could survive the flight, which could be very violent.”

Although interstellar tourists or even space probes He may not travel to planet TOI 700e soon, Pernicka still has hopes for a future Space travel and contributions made by Missouri S&T.

Bernica says the university has professors across multiple disciplines who look at the universe in different ways. He says that his current projects include the development of satellites with thruster technology that will be launched in the coming years in cooperation with NASA, as well as satellites for the United States military inspectors.

“The research we do is out of this world,” says Bernica. “I am excited to see how our efforts continue to impact space travel in the future.”

the quote: Spacecraft Design Expert Discusses Viability of Interstellar Travel (2023, January 24), Retrieved January 24, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-01-spacecraft-expert-discusses-viability-interstellar.html

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