It’s time to talk about the future.. The far future., Often we already discussed SpaceX’s Starship how it will enable humanity to become a multi planetary species, as Elon Musk likes to say. But what will happen after that? What will be the next goals after we have established cities on the Moon and on Mars? Well for Gwynne Shotwell, the COO of SpaceX it’s pretty clear., Namely that in our lifetimes there will be a technology breakthrough that will enable interstellar travel.. But where should we go? And how would such an interstellar Starship even look? Well, I would say: let’s try to find out In April and May 2019. The 64 meter wide Parkes radio telescope located in Australia was pointing its large dish towards a small red dwarf star called Proxima Centauri. Over the course of a few hours. The signal was observed, while the radio antenna was pointing towards the direction of Proxima Centauri, and it was not detected at all when it was pointing towards another direction.. So why are we telling you about this and what does it have to do with an interstellar Starship? Well, because the star Proxima Centauri we were speaking of is the nearest star to our solar system at a distance of quotonlyquot 4.24 light years and the signal that might have possibly emanated from there just made the Proxima Centauri system a lot more interesting.. Currently, we know about two planets: circling Proxima Centauri.. The first is Proxima b a rocky planet, slightly more massive than Earth, with 1.

17 Earth masses nicely situated in the habitable zone of the parent Star.. This means there could be water on Proxima b and with luck, even some form of life.. Of course, this depends highly on the strength of Proxima b’s magnetic field. Since Proxima Centauri is a flare star, regularly emitting strong bursts of highly energetic particles., But hopefully the James Webb Space Telescope will help us to find out soon if Proxima Centauri b hosts some form of life.. Another planet is Proxima c, which is about 7 times more massive than earth, but which is a lot further away from Proxima Centauri, so that it’s either a mini Neptune or a frozen rocky super Earth., Not far away from the Proxima Centauri system, 4.37. Light years away from earth are two other stars: Alpha Centauri, A and B a double star system.. In fact, it could even be that it’s a triple star system and that Proxima Centauri is gravitationally bound to Alpha Centauri A and B. To this day. Unfortunately, we still haven’t confirmed the existence of planets around Alpha Centauri A and B, but we are pretty sure it’s only a matter of time until we will. In the movie Avatar an Earth like planet with some funny blue people living on it is circling a Jupiter Like gas giant called Polyphemos in the Alpha Centauri system., So if we build an interstellar Starship to our nearest stars systems, it will certainly either be the Proxima or the Alpha Centauri system.

. The signal which might have originated from Proxima Centauri, if it is confirmed, might actually increase the probability of the first interstellar Starship being sent to that destination.. But how would such an interstellar Starship even work? Well, it will certainly work very differently from our current Starship. When Starship starts from Earth on its way to Mars. It has a speed of about 32kms relative to the sun.. At that speed, our good old Starship would need a relaxed ‘759 years for the journey.. Why? Well, because turns out one light year is a pretty insane distance. It’s the distance that light travels in one year and, as we know, light is pretty damn fast with a speed of 300000kms.. So a light year is about 9.461 trillion. Kilometers.. Therefore, Proxima Centauri is a whopping 40 trillion kilometers away from Earth.. We know that vst, thus t40 trillion km32kms1.254 trillion seconds, which turns out to be the aforementioned ‘751 years.. Now we are all for relaxed traveling, but this is really a bit too relaxed for our taste.. Even the fastest probe ever built, namely the Parker Solar probe, which, at its fastest sun flyby in 2024, will have an impressive speed of 192.19 kms would need a still too relaxed 6618 and a half years for the voyage to Proxima Centauri.. It therefore becomes brutally apparent that, with current chemical propulsion technology, we will not be able to reach even our nearest star systems.. So what can we do Well turns out? There might be some solutions.

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In less than 100 years., 1. Dusty plasma based fission fragment nuclear reactor ship, The researchers Rodney A. Clar and Robert B. Sheldon proposed an innovative nuclear propulsion system using dusty radioactive material plasma as a fuel source.. In short, a dusty cloud of radioactive nano particles is being contained in a magnetic field where radio frequency induction coils heat, the plasma up to very high temperatures. High energy fission fragments are then focused into a narrow beam, which leaves the fission engine with up to 5. The speed of light. Such an engine would have a specific impulse of 1000000s or about 2600 times that of a Raptor engine.. The specific impulse is a measure for how efficiently a rocket or spacecraft uses up its fuel for acceleration.. But there is a small problem with this fission engine, namely a trip to Alpha Centauri in under 100 years would require a 208GW reactor, as the authors write and would consume 240 tons of fission fuel., Not feasible., 2. Nuclear pulse ship. The principle here is brutally simple, but brutally effective. Such a Starship would employ nuclear or hydrogen bomb explosions. In order to accelerate itself., The ship would throw out bombs in regular intervals which, when they detonate, create a strong thrust against a pusher plate which would absorb the shock and turn it into acceleration.. This would be repeated many times until starship would reach speeds of a few percent, the speed of light., And then the ship would decelerate the same way.

. This concept was developed already back in the 50s and codenamed project Orion.. However, this concept has many problems from the very large amount of nuclear bombs required to the capacity of the shock absorbers to transfer the momentum from the explosions smoothly to the vehicle to the problem of heat dissipation with the very high temperatures the pusher plate would have To endure., In our opinion, a not really feasible solution. 3. Nuclear Fusion starship, In contrast to nuclear fission in nuclear fusion, light elements such as Deuterium Tritium 3, He 11 B or 7 Li would be used by fusing together and releasing almost 0.3 to 0.9 of the Mass of the nuclear fuel as energy., So this process is multiple times more energy efficient than nuclear fission.. Therefore, the exhaust velocities are accordingly also higher, namely up to around 10 the speed of light. Project Daedalus. A study conducted between 1973 and 1978 by the British Interplanetary Society proposed a design for an uncrewed interstellar probe, employing a fusion drive which would, in theory, be able to reach 12 the speed of light.. This would allow us to reach the Alpha or Proxima Centauri system in under 40 years.. There is just one problem, though, namely that currently we do not have any fusion reactors yet that produce more energy than we put in., And also we would need an aneutronic fusion reactor.. This is a reactor where no neutrons are produced as reaction products. Neutrons extract too much kinetic energy, thus reducing the attainable speeds to quotonlyquot 4.

The speed of light., Thus a Helium 3 Lithium, 6 Boron, 11 or similar reactors would be needed.. Helium 3 might be advantageous because it can be harvested in large enough quantities from lunar regolith.. If technology progresses further, this could be a feasible solution.. 4. Light sail. Starship Breakthrough Starshot aims to send an uncrewed interstellar probe to Alpha Centauri by accelerating a light sail to 15. Even up to 20. The speed of light. The sail is being accelerated by a multi kilometer large phased array of high power lasers, with a combined coherent power output of up to 100GW.. This, of course, could be scaled to much larger sails of a diameter of 100km. For such larger ships speeds of up to 10. The speed of light would still be attainable. And it could even decelerate when nearing the target star system by having a magnetic sail.. It would interact with the plasma of the target star solar wind and with the interstellar medium, thus decelerating the ship., So the light sail concept could therefore also turn out to be a feasible solution for an interstellar starship. 5.Far, future propulsion concepts. Of course, there are more outlandish concepts such as, for example, matter antimatter drives.. This would allow for ultra efficient mass to energy conversion rates of up to 40., No not 100, since a lot of the energy would be lost as high energy, gamma radiation and as neutrinos.. But still this could allow to reach speeds of higher than 50.

The speed of light. The EM drive seems to be not working wow. What a surprise, so we can put that to the files.. Then we of course also have the black hole drive, which is a really awesome. Concept.. The Romulans from Star Trek, for example, use black hole drives for their Warbird class ships. Come on one Star Trek reference has to be. Then, of course, we have the famous Alcubierre Warp drive and even more outlandish stuff, such as wormholes.. Both could possibly enable faster than light travel in the very distant future if such concepts turn out to actually work., But they all come with problems of their own.. We probably will examine all these drives in own episodes because they deserve to be dealt with in a lot more detail than would be possible in this episode here.. So, to sum it up a Starship to our nearest neighbor, Proxima Centauri would quite likely employ a large solar sail or aneutronic based fusion drives. And what we might possibly discover over in the Proxima system. Well, that is something left for the imagination., But we are sure it will be extremely exciting.. Don’T expect an interstellar starship, though, before they year, 2100 best case.. Now we talked about the propulsion, but how exactly might such a Starship then actually look? Well, we will talk about that in part 2. And we’d like to thank our team, who helps us a lot with the videos., Especially over on the Discord server that is mllt Stephan van der Feest Szabolcs Jaray, who additionally also helps us with the subtitles Warhawk and Space Boris.

And we’d also like to thank other admins on our server AnotherSpaceNut, Framryk Mikko and Rich L B. And big thanks to our newly established fact checking team you guys are great, namely mllt, Space, Boris Stephan van der Feest, Szabolcs, Jaray and Mikko. Thanks guys And Lastly, we of course want to thank Jay Keegan and Michael Roode for constantly updating our website