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Star Trekkin' to Alpha Centauri

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posted on Mar, 31 2015 @ 07:54 AM
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ELF:

msnwllc.com...

the below is a post on the NASA advanced concepts forum


ELF

Now if you REALLY want something cutting edge then look at the 'Electrode-less Lorentz Force thrusters'. This new thruster was only first built in 2009 still has a lot of work needed. It works by sending out pulsed plasmoids, coherent self rotating doughnuts of plasma, like smoke rings. Because they are self contained the plasmoids don't have the wide divergence problems or plasma-nozzle detachment losses inherent in HALL or VASIMIR in which some of the thrust is wasted as it spreads at an angle off the desired axis. Combined with lower collision and ionization losses inside (which simultaneously lead to extremely long life and low waste heat) give the thruster extremely high overall efficiency of >85%. And ISP is also expected to be in the 5k range using Xenon with much better ability to move into lighter propellents due to the high efficiency. The thrusters mass:power ratio is expected to be half that of HALL primarily because of a lighter and simpler Power processing unit inherent is pulsed firing, and the thrust density is excellent as well because the device is a narrow tube half the diameter of an the best HALL. Their are even future plans to mix neutral unionized gas into the plasmoid which would be entrained with it and accelerated without any ionization energy cost, this would basically eliminate the last barrier to utilization of low atomic mass propellents as we no longer lose lose efficiency to ionization. Scaling up the MW level also looks to be possible.


adsabs.harvard.edu...


The Electrodeless Lorentz Force (ELF) thruster is a novel plasma thruster under development at MSNW and the University of Washington which utilizes Rotating Magnetic Field (RMF) current drive technology to ionize a neutral gas and drive an azimuthal current to form a Field Reversed Configuration (FRC) plasmoid in a diverging magnetic field. The magnetic gradient imparts a net force to the FRC which is ejected from the thruster at high velocity. ELF has been shown to operate from 10 - 100 kW, with an exhaust velocity of 15 - 40 km/s. The ELF thruster is expected to have an extremely large range of efficient power levels, high thrust density, high specific power, long lifetime, and the ability to utilize virtually any type of propellant. Thruster design and operation, novel diagnostics, and a discussion of experimental results detailing the key physical phenomena within the thruster and exhaust plume will be presented.


the ELF thruster can basically use any fuel and is very scalable. all the way into the megawatt range.




posted on Mar, 31 2015 @ 08:06 AM
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and look at this one: (this one should get the aircraft forum guys spazzing)

msnwllc.com...


The ELF thruster, funded by the Department of Defense, utilizes Rotating Magnetic Field (RMF) and pulsed-inductive technologies that promise radical advances in space propulsion. The ELF creates, forms, and accelerates field-reversed plasma toroids to high velocity. It has demonstrated the ability to efficiently utilize complex propellants such as Martian Air, Liquid Water, and Hydrazine .

The ELF enables a broad range of high-power propulsion missions. Fundamentally, this technology has significantly greater thrust and power densities than any realizable propulsion technology. The ability to operate on in situ propellants will enable very eccentric orbit propulsion, re-fuelable orbital transfer vehicles, deep space return missions, and even direct drag makeup for extremely low orbits. At current power levels, this thruster technology minimizes system mass, size, and cost, while increasing overall mission flexibility. Finally, extending this technology to higher densities and powers that have been demonstrated in the laboratory, there are mission applications in high-altitude, air-breathing, hypersonic flight and beamed-energy upper stage propulsion that are not feasible with traditional technologies. Please see technical publications below for a complete description of experiments, thruster specifications, and results.


The ELF Thruster. J. Slough, D. Kirtley, and T. Weber. International Electric Propulsion Conference 2009-265 (2009).
Preliminary Performance Measurements of the Air-Breathing ELF Thruster. J. Slough, D. Kirtley, and T. Weber. Joint Army Navy NASA Air Force Conference, Orlando Florida (2008).
edit on 31-3-2015 by stormbringer1701 because: (no reason given)

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posted on Mar, 31 2015 @ 09:23 AM
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nextbigfuture.com...

ELF thrusters have now been tested at 10 MW according to another article. thats fully one hundred times more power than in the first cite 2 posts above. so that could be an incredible increase in speed. without putting the (85%) efficiency into it 40KM/s times 100 = 4,000 KM/s. It's probably not anywhere near that fast because such things probably don't translate into a directly proportional increase... at any rate i think that explains the high altitude, air breathing, hypersonic flight remark though.
edit on 31-3-2015 by stormbringer1701 because: decimal problem. oops!

edit on 31-3-2015 by stormbringer1701 because: (no reason given)


this is an ion thruster that can work effectively in the atmosphere and that means it's within in the earth's gravity well. that is supposed to be impossible for ion drives.
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posted on Mar, 31 2015 @ 10:02 AM
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my mistake. i don't need the first elf related post edited after all.
edit on 31-3-2015 by stormbringer1701 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 31 2015 @ 11:45 AM
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a reply to: dismanrc

I have all the plans for the unit we built, I'd love to build a more complex multiphase unit as that was the solution to the vibration and consistent directed force problems. Although the original prototype generated about 77% of it's force in one direction, there were force artifacts, the other ~30% (~3% other and imbalanced) that came off at perpendicular angles (analogue force direction +/- 1 to 110 degrees of center).

Cheers - Dave



posted on Mar, 31 2015 @ 03:32 PM
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originally posted by: VoidHawk
What about a giant accelerater? Something like Cern but on a bigger scale and built in space. Theoretically it ought to be able to launch something at near light speed?

Dont know how they'd get back though


The problem is even at a constant rate of rotation the object is subject to a change in velocity which would great unbelievable g-force affects (think about the g-force simulators they put pilots in). The accelerator would have to be huge, on the scale of the earths orbit around the sun so that probe wasn't ripped apart by a hundred g's, if you wanted to get the probe up to a decent velocity. There would unlikely be the mass of materials in the entire earth to construct it.



posted on Mar, 31 2015 @ 04:07 PM
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originally posted by: highfromphoenix
Nonsense.

It's all theory and by the time it's (if) put into practice we'll all be dead.

At the "realistic" goals we have set it will take a man over a year to reach Mars.

We can dream but reality is real.


Technological growth is exponential.

We'll be traveling to nearby solar systems in the next 10 years.



posted on Mar, 31 2015 @ 04:21 PM
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originally posted by: stormbringer1701
nextbigfuture.com...

ELF thrusters have now been tested at 10 MW according to another article. thats fully one hundred times more power than in the first cite 2 posts above. so that could be an incredible increase in speed. without putting the (85%) efficiency into it 40KM/s times 100 = 4,000 KM/s. It's probably not anywhere near that fast because such things probably don't translate into a directly proportional increase... at any rate i think that explains the high altitude, air breathing, hypersonic flight remark though.

this is an ion thruster that can work effectively in the atmosphere and that means it's within in the earth's gravity well. that is supposed to be impossible for ion drives.


Wouldn't you run into an issue with mid space collisions if you're moving too quickly? The faster you move the greater the force when a small rock hits your probe as it's traveling through space and that could destroy the whole thing.



posted on Mar, 31 2015 @ 06:51 PM
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originally posted by: ObsidianEclipse

originally posted by: VoidHawk
What about a giant accelerater? Something like Cern but on a bigger scale and built in space. Theoretically it ought to be able to launch something at near light speed?

Dont know how they'd get back though


The problem is even at a constant rate of rotation the object is subject to a change in velocity which would great unbelievable g-force affects (think about the g-force simulators they put pilots in). The accelerator would have to be huge, on the scale of the earths orbit around the sun so that probe wasn't ripped apart by a hundred g's, if you wanted to get the probe up to a decent velocity. There would unlikely be the mass of materials in the entire earth to construct it.


When I had that thought I was thinking of an accelerater like cern, but linear, rather like a giant electronic rifle. Hadn't really given it that much thought when I wrote that, and your comments about g-forces are still valid in my linear version.

Assuming a person were accelerating at the maximum g-force that a human can withstand, I wonder how long it would take to reach half light speed, anyone know?



posted on Mar, 31 2015 @ 09:25 PM
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originally posted by: TrueBrit
a reply to: JadeStar

Why would you discount the possibilities presented by the space warping drive you mentioned? No, it is not well understood right now, but you must appreciate that ploughing more research money exclusively into that sort of research NOW would see propulsion systems created in fifty years time, that could potentially make that journey in a little more than two handfuls of years, or better.

Not only that, but if the systems are sophisticated enough, we could even MAN the mission! Yes, there are hurdles to overcome, but nothing worth getting done, was ever achieved by going about it half cocked!


I did not discount it entirely. You'll see that I mentioned it but also stated that it is not a near-term technology. Experiments to test if it can be one are right at the level where it's hard to detect signal from noise. Even if tomorrow NASA, Dr. White and all confirmed it we'd still be VERY far away from being able to build a warp drive based on it.

The work being done at NASA is to warp drives is as Edison and Tesla's work was to iPhones.

So don't think 50 years. Think more like 150 or perhaps more unless there were a major breakthrough (perhaps super intelligent AI will figure it all out for us but that's speculative).


The purpose of this post was to focus on what we could do right now with present day technology because the danger in saying, "well let's just wait for warp drives" is that you never end up doing anything.

This has been the case with human spaceflight. Every few years there is a new target. First it was going to be Mars, then back to the moon, then Mars again, then the Moon again, then an asteroid....

smh...

It makes it hard to plan to do anything because you know, a better way to do it might come along so why do anything right now?

It's called the "ready, aim aim" conundrum and we deal with it in astronomy all the time: "If only we had a bigger telescope... you know, why don't we wait until we do to really look into this problem....." meanwhile it is often teams who innovate on more modest instruments who make interesting discoveries.

For example: In 1996 the first planets circling other stars were -not- found using the brand new 10 meter Keck telescopes which were completed in that year in Hawaii. Nor were they found when Europe's Very Large Telescope was completed in 1998 in Chile.

They were found using new optics and electronics on a 2 meter telescope completed in 1958 at what was then a 58 year old Haute-Provence Observatory in France and on a 3 meter telescope completed in 1959 at what was then a 108 year old Lick Observatory in California.

So the point is there is a lot of innovation that can occur in non-warp space travel.

For all we know, we may never have a warp dive. But that does not mean we still can not plan to explore at least the nearest stars.

And to tie it all together, the guy in the world who discovered the most planets at that 108 year old observatory in California doesn't want us to sit around twiddling our thumbs waiting for some future technology to appear either.....Space.com: Nearby Earth-Sized Alien Planet Could Spur Interstellar Exploration


Future space telescopes — could search for signs of life on promising worlds that may neighbor Alpha Centauri Bb, said veteran planet hunter Geoff Marcy of the University of California, Berkeley.

"Those missions can not only image planets in the habitable zone but take spectra of them, to assess the chemical composition of the atmosphere of the planet," Marcy told SPACE.com via email. "There is a prospect, with planets around Alpha Cen B, to search for bio-signatures in the atmosphere of any planets in the habitable zone."

Interstellar exploring

That would be exciting enough. But Marcy and some of his colleagues hold out hope that humanity will get a much closer look at the Alpha Centauri system someday — and they think now is a good time to get the ball rolling.

"There is now great impetus to send a probe with a camera to Alpha Cen to study the three stars there (including Proxima Centauri) and to study the planets and moons there," Marcy said. "What a rich opportunity for NASA and ESA, working with all nations on Earth, to send a probe to Alpha Centauri, galvanizing interest from people of all ages around the world."

Such a mission is not practical with today's spacecraft, which would take tens of thousands of years to travel the 25 trillion miles (40 trillion kilometers) to Alpha Centauri. So researchers will have to come up with new, superfast propulsion systems — perhaps nuclear rockets, antimatter fusion drives or another such advanced technology in the early stages of development today.

Marcy thinks the world should aim to launch a robotic spacecraft toward Alpha Centauri by the year 2100.

"The president of the United States, after his election in November, should lead a vigorous new NASA program," he said. "We should study the prospective propulsion methods that can launch a probe to Alpha Cen before the century is out, returning data back safely to Earth."

The time may be right to start laying the groundwork for such an ambitious mission. The world is buzzing about Alpha Centauri Bb, a planet found in a star system familiar to many people from countless sci-fi novels, TV shows and films.

"Knowing that these distant horizons exist will inspire generations of explorers," said Natalie Batalha, deputy leader of the Kepler science team at NASA Ames.

"Why climb the mountain? Because it exists," she told SPACE.com. "That's the human spirit, and it brings with it infinite possibilities — for practical things like technology that improves the human condition and the reality of interstellar exploration but also for lofty things like evolution and global cooperation and who knows — maybe even knowledge of other life in the universe. One can dream."



So yeah, warp drives, wormholes, hyperspace and all of that is fine but there is no reason why we should weight to develop, find or utilize them before exploring our nearby neighboring star systems.

By focusing on things which may or may not only be the stuff of sci-fi the point is often missed that we have the technology to do interstellar travel right now and have had it since the 1950s.

It may not be "Warp Factor 9" but it's a start.



posted on Mar, 31 2015 @ 09:34 PM
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originally posted by: Aazadan


Wouldn't you run into an issue with mid space collisions if you're moving too quickly? The faster you move the greater the force when a small rock hits your probe as it's traveling through space and that could destroy the whole thing.


the vast majority of potential impactors are 10 microns or less in size. at that size at 92 percent c (a tad above the ten percent C ships we are discussing) you would statistically run into one of those per square meter on the front cross section of the ship per day of travel. these produce a kinetic energy similar to a high powered rifle bullet. sand grain sized impactors are very much rarer. and those bigger than that are even rarer the bigger they get. in other words you could get to alpha centauri without hitting on good throwing sized rock. but if you did hit one it would be like an atomic bomb. but that presumes you cannot do anything about running into such rocks. there is no reason to presume that. stop it.


edit on 31-3-2015 by stormbringer1701 because: (no reason given)

edit on 31-3-2015 by stormbringer1701 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 31 2015 @ 09:46 PM
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I saw estimates for the lifespan of Voyager's RTGs. the low end is 2020 in which case the voyager program will last 43 years. the high end is 2025; in which case the voyager program will have lasted 48 years.

Do those time spans seem familiar? That is about the time a ten percent C probe to Alpha Centauri would take plus a few years of observations on location there.



posted on Mar, 31 2015 @ 10:46 PM
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originally posted by: VoidHawk

Assuming a person were accelerating at the maximum g-force that a human can withstand, I wonder how long it would take to reach half light speed, anyone know?


Not sure if a person could endure 2G for an extended time but I doubt they'd fail to survive it
I estimate around 88 days to achieve 1/2C at constant 2G acceleration but 1G would be more practical in terms of the physical and mental health of the occupants at the cost of taking twice as long.



posted on Apr, 1 2015 @ 12:09 AM
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at one g it would take a little over three months to reach .25 c and about 6 months to reach .5 c.


in MKS units 1 G acceleration is 9.8 meters per second.

Distance = (1/2)acceleration X Time squared.

you can move the variables and terms in this equation around by performing appropriate mathematical operations.

from project rho a few related data points with regard to acceleration times and time dilation:




Here are some typical results with a starship accelerating at one gravity.
T Proper time elapsed t Terra time elapsed d Distance v Final velocity γ Gamma
1 year 1.19 years 0.56 lyrs 0.77c 1.58
2 3.75 2.90 0.97 3.99
5 83.7 82.7 0.99993 86.2
8 1,840 1,839 0.9999998 1,895
12 113,243 113,242 0.99999999996 116,641


www.projectrho.com...

can't unscrew that table because it has code embedded in it.



posted on Apr, 1 2015 @ 03:13 AM
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www.spacesafetymagazine.com...

Article titled: interstellar travel fact is fiction is fact.



posted on Apr, 1 2015 @ 03:53 AM
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a reply to: JadeStar

See, that's the exact opposite of how I feel about these things.

Manned space flight, getting human beings from a) to b) is they key to the future in my opinion, and we need to start to fashion that key as soon as possible, rather than putting it in the basement of our minds. We should be building space probes, but we should pay equal attention and pour MASSIVE portions of the available resources, into projects which will bring forward, ever forward, the time when those technologies which might see human eyes scan the contents of a new solar system, from the cockpit of a spacecraft, might come into production.



posted on Apr, 1 2015 @ 03:59 AM
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I'll just drop this here:

en.wikipedia.org...




Negative bare mass of the electron
The mass contributed to the total mass of the electron by the cloud of virtual photons, by Einstein's second law, is positive, so the bare mass of the electron is necessarily less than its observed mass. Since the virtual photons have energies greater than twice the electron mass, so they can make the electron-positron pairs needed for charge renormalization, then the bare mass of the source electron must be negative.[24][25][26]




You need negative mass to make a warp drive you say? can't find the worm in a worm hole? incidently the negative mass is calculated with a factor of C^4 rather than C^2. it's big. really really big. like jupiter mass big. In fact; it's so honkingly big that the aperture geometry need not be smaller than the ship itself like it must be in alcubierre's metric and later Van den Broeck's modified alcubierre metric got even sillier in this regard.


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posted on Apr, 1 2015 @ 04:27 AM
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There really isn't any guarantee that we could uncover the bare mass of a lepton but i guess it might be possible. one thing that springs to mind is a bizarre idea i originally saw on a star trek episode. it was so bizarre and annoying that i went looking for it and i found a footnote that showed that the writers had had some physicist or cosmologist feeding them ideas. because that footnote led to a real peer reviewed article on the same whackadoodle idea that was bothering me for its astonishing improbability.

The idea was this: if you energy beam spam the event horizon of a black hole the event horizon will temporarily disappear exposing the insides and (at least hypothetically) allow passage. This was actually a valid scientific proposal instead of trek babble.

The upshot is maybe you could do something similar to an unsuspecting lepton.

alternately; the properties of elementary particles have been addressed as separate entities in quantum teleportation experiments. not like needed yet but if that can be done; why not the bare mass?
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posted on Apr, 1 2015 @ 06:00 AM
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Ad Astra's V200 VASIMR engine news: First the bad news. other unofficial sources have said that the hoped for test on board the ISS has been either cancelled or slipped back again. that's the bad news though i have seen nothing official on that.

but the good news is Ad Astra got NASA funding for the next ten years to continue to improve the design. with that in mind VASIMR is redesignated from V200 to model nomenclature V200-SS for steady state. the immediate new test regime will see longer test runs going on up to 100 hours of continuous runs. with ten years of funding i bet we will see improved prototypes like i was talking about earlier. probably MOAR thrust!

www.parabolicarc.com...


so by the way did the elf thruster guys and the fusion rocket guys! (those are the same people BTW: MSNW LLC of Redmond, Washington.
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posted on Apr, 1 2015 @ 05:19 PM
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originally posted by: stormbringer1701
the vast majority of potential impactors are 10 microns or less in size. at that size at 92 percent c (a tad above the ten percent C ships we are discussing) you would statistically run into one of those per square meter on the front cross section of the ship per day of travel. these produce a kinetic energy similar to a high powered rifle bullet. sand grain sized impactors are very much rarer. and those bigger than that are even rarer the bigger they get. in other words you could get to alpha centauri without hitting on good throwing sized rock. but if you did hit one it would be like an atomic bomb. but that presumes you cannot do anything about running into such rocks. there is no reason to presume that. stop it.



They get rarer, but how much rarer? The longer the mission goes the greater the chance of an impact and the more wear you get on the probe due to accumulated smaller impacts. Using your example, at 92% c you would get 1 per square meter per day, so 10% c would roughly be 1 per square meter per 9 days. A 60 year mission would be nearly 22,000 days so that's 2400 impacts. How much rarer are sand sized particles? 50x as rare? That's 48 of those impacts. What about a throwing sized rock? Would we have a 1/3 chance of impact during the mission? That's a 33% failure rate. Better send more probes in that case for redundancy. Two probes gets us to a 10% failure rate, three probes to 3%, four probes to 1%. How many would we need to build and send?

I'm not saying that we shouldn't do it but you have to look at cost effectiveness at some point as long as NASA is being as constrained in their budget as they are. For the price of a mission to Alpha Centauri maybe we could get a mission to every planet in the solar system or one of those big budget items NASA wants to put up in space, or some good work done on a space elevator.




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