A presentation by NASA’s Dr. Harold White, head of the Advanced Propulsion Lab in November updated us on the possibility of reaching warp speeds in our lifetime.
You can view the presentation below:
So why is this so important, and how does it relate to ecological science?
Not including the wild advancements this would bring for space discovery, warp drive has a very real affect on fuel and fuel conservation. Currently, it takes roughly 2 million litres of fuel to launch a shuttle into space. Even SpaceX and their Falcon 9 rocket use close to that amount in fuel, though they provide similar services at a cheaper cost.
The current model of warp drive is known as the Alcubbierre Drive. It states that a spacecraft would need a mass of energy the size of Jupiter to achieve warp speeds. Since this is 100% unattainable using today’s technology, that equation needs to be worked on. Dr. White believes he can bring the mass of energy necessary down to the size of the Voyager 9 probe — a much more feasible possibility.
This is what a warp drive spaceship might look like:
Warp drives, in theory, do not function the same as a standard rocket. Traveling to Alpha Centauri and back using a traditional space shuttle would be impossible. Warp drives literally bend space around the ship, creating a type of “bubble” through which the craft travels at faster-than-light speeds. This eliminates the need for exorbitant amounts of fuel, and allows astronauts to travel further than ever before.
Flying to Mars at its closest position to Earth would only take 22 days, for example, compared to the 150 – 200 days it now takes us. Establishing a colony on Mars, as is the desire of many government agencies and private companies, would be much more likely using a warp drive, versus a traditional engine. Although NASA has been successfully experimenting with xenon rockets, they pale in comparison to a warp drive-capable spacecraft.
Here’s to the invention of warp drives in our lifetime.
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