Assuming that we ever be able to return to any capacity for space travel, ideas are being presented for how this will happen. The base idea that has been floating is a return to The Moon, followed by an eventual trip to Mars. Of course, reaching each of these locations is essential for any thought of humanity having extended time in outer space. Yet, bold suggestions are being presented that contemplate the idea of interstellar travel!
At this time, the star system that is nearest to our own is Alpha Centauri. It is a trinary star system, located roughly 4.3 light years from Earth. That is a distance that equals to around 258 trillion miles! TRILLION MILES!!! Our fastest-moving space vessels, the Voyager probes, would take 50,000 years to reach Alpha Centauri. So it is practically pointless to suggest a human trip.
A vehicle powered by nuclear propulsion would be needed to engage in such a voyage. A program called Project Icarus is being developed, which is supported by The Tau Zero Foundation. This is a corporation which is working to enhance the scientific and technical capability of humanity. Their programs work with innovations in energy use, space travel, general transportation, and ideas for improving human stability while exploring beyond Earth.
Tau Zero is working with Project Icarus. This is a program, which began in 1967, meaning to create efforts to shift the course of an asteroid that could have been on aim at Earth. The asteroid, 1566 Icarus, is on an orbital path within our solar system. It had a close approach to our planet during 1968 and 1996, with another nearby pass expected to occur during 2015.
Educators and students from The Massachussetts Institute of Technology developed a new program called Project Icarus. Combined with work from The Tau Zero Foundation, this Project Icarus later became an experimental launch vehicle. It’s purpose was to take photographs within Earth’s stratosphere. Successful images were retrieved, as this program costed a mere $148.00!
Now, another program that also is entitled Project Icarus is underway. It began during 2009, and it is meant to push for the increase of interest and financial support for the idea of interstellar travel. Yet, it’s current purpose seems to be working in conjunction with other space-faring vessels meant to intercept asteroids. Icarus would carry at least five rockets carrying nuclear bombs, which would be used to target an approaching asteroid, attempting to destroy it before it could reach Earth.
Icarus would be powered with Helium-3 gas. This type of gas is not available on Earth. However, it is found within Uranus . Icarus would be used to carry a probe to obtain the gas from Uranus. The probe would be launched to our seventh world, where it would collect the necessary amounts of Helium-3. Enough should be / would be collected to power Icarus for a mission to the Icarus asteroid. Further suggestions include having Icarus fueled and ready for an interstellar trip to Barnard’s Star by the year 2100!
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