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The Future of Space Exploration

  1. Nov 6, 2017 #1


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    As many theories and hypotheses that there are about a secure, reliable and effective future space exploration and colonisation that there are, I would like to dedicate this thread to the discussion of this topic.

    Some of the suggestions are:

    Von Neumann probes are an effective strategy for colonisation. It could be possible to make them from nanotechnology. The special ability (and only ability) of this probe is that it 'reproduces' into more of there bots. It receives its material from bodies it touches.

    The unviability of effective fuel is the biggest problem of exploration, because with the current chemical fuel that we have it would take decades to only get to the edge of our solar system. This is way beyond a lifetime of a human being.

    The most promising 'fuel' idea that we have now is nuclear or atomic fuel, which would work by nuclear fission or fusion. There also is a possibility of laser propulsion.

    So, as I said, I would like to hear your views on future propulsion and space colonisation/exploration strategies and possibilities.

    Thank you.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 7, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 7, 2017 #2
    NASA is working on some kind of plasma propulsion. In theory it wouldn't lift the spaceship off Earth's gravity, it would be used as a "cruise" engine according to NASA.
    Here is a good video from California university:

    Other than the magnetoplasma rocket I'm thinking about the Warpdrive, if you choose to believe in it (which I do) this is a great theory. It "bends" the space time so it propells it self through space faster than the speed of light. Here is a video about it:

    I hope this helps. Best regards Carl.
  4. Nov 7, 2017 #3
    I'm waiting for asteroid mining to become a possibility. Once there's an economic incentive, there will be no shortage of firms scrambling to come up with new technology to get there on the cheap and mine more effectively. Hopefully, this will all be intertwined with colonization efforts on the Moon and Mars. The economic growth will be incredible and lust for profit and glory will inspire incredible technological progress.
  5. Nov 7, 2017 #4
    The migration of mankind of Earth took 60,000 years. What's the problem with some additional centuries or even millennia for the rest of the solar system?
  6. Nov 7, 2017 #5


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    Thread closed temporarily for Moderation...
  7. Nov 7, 2017 #6


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    Okay, there are a few problems with this thread start that caused it to be closed temporarily for Moderation.

    First, speculation is generally not allowed in the technical forums at the PF. Scientific discussions need to be based on the mainstream scientific literature, with peer-reviewed journal articles as the basic standard for discussion. So posting videos without the mainstream papers backing them up is problematic. It is hard for the Mentors to take the time to try to check such videos to verify that they discuss mainstream concepts without introducing confusing inflammatory/incorrect statements just to make the videos more popular.

    Second, it is hard to have a discussion about potential new technologies that do not exist yet without some amount of speculation. The best way again to deal with that is to post links to mainstream articles and discuss points in those articles. We have had good discussions about Alcubierre drives at the PF in the past for example, but they always were backed up by real science, and not just flashy Sci-Fi type videos with a mix of facts and fantasy...

    Finally, we would like to try to allow this discussion, but we do need to make it clear that posting fantasy or speculation will not be allowed in this discussion in the technical PF forums.

    I hope that makes sense, and we ask for your cooperation in trying to make this thread a useful survey of potential future interplanetary (or farther) propulsion schemes. I know I have my favorite candidate, but I need to find a good paper to link to before adding it to the thread... :smile:

    Thread is re-opened for now.
  8. Nov 7, 2017 #7

    stefan r

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    Rocket launch
    Non-rocket launch

    There are a few articles in the Journal of the British Planetary society by Paul Birch written in the early 80s about orbital rings. (part I, part II, part III). JBPS was peer reviewed so it might pass moderator standards. Most opinions I have read place orbital rings as the ideal future method of access to space from planets. Getting them into place is the challenge.

    Project Rho's website is mainly about science fiction but their main focus is getting science back into fiction. The Delta-v maps are made with the vis-avis equation and are excellent. The few delta-v's I checked looked correct. It may be hard to find one paper listing all the launch delta-v's in the solar system.

    If we talking about the distant future of colonization Freeman Dyson's 1960 article should be included. He was writing about SETI but it is also clearly a suggestion for any "advanced" civilization. Dyson sphere is not a means of propulsion but it does cover the source of a lot of energy that can be used for propulsion.

    Why include that limit? It took humans 40,000 years to travel from Somalia to Argentina the first time. Life in space is the big hurdle. Carl Sagan had a full chapter in his book comet dedicated to living in the Oort cloud. If you have functional colonies in the Kuiper belt there is not much preventing spread around the milky way.
  9. Nov 8, 2017 #8
    Oh ok, thank you for telling me. I'm very new to this site.
  10. Nov 8, 2017 #9


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    Yes, this is a very interesting way.
    I also believe this could be the thing in maybe ~150-200 years looking at the current development rate...
    I like this one. This would be very effective for the future and, I think, much easier.

    Asteroid mining could be extremely useful for collection of materials and elements which might not be very abundant on Earth, which would be, as you mentioned, huge economical growth. Yes, once the first people have successfully imported very valuable resources from other bodies others would wish to follow and, therefore will promote even more the development in the field of interplanetary transportation, communication and development.

    The scientific and technological development, in my opinion, has incredibly grown in the past few centuries (interesting article by the way), and in the future it is likely to go:

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