Interstellar Flight

Interstellar Flight

2014, Science  -   85 Comments
Ratings: 8.15/10 from 195 users.

Alpha Centauri is a three-star solar system 4.37 light years from Earth, the nearest neighbors of our Sun. A planet has recently been detected in the system, which raises the questions of when and how we will make our first efforts to reach this planet, or some other (relatively) nearby planet, to expand the horizons of the human race. Interstellar Flight takes us through current theories of just how we are hypothesizing doing so.

To date, 3841 planets in the near regions of our galaxy have been identified as potential settlement options, about 1100 of which are confirmed. Most are Jupiter and Neptune-sized planets that orbit close to their corresponding stars. Estimates on the number of Earth-sized planets that could possibly support life in our galaxy fall around nine billion.

The film then turns to the actual distance between us and Alpha Centauri, which is daunting. Historically, our rocketry and space travel technology has centered on chemical propellants, a hindrance that will have to be cast aside and replaced if we are to have any hope of traveling the immense distances to other star systems.

An example of this wildly inefficient propulsion method is given in the form of the amount of fuel required by NASA's space shuttles to reach the 25,000 kilometers per hour necessary to escape Earth's gravitational pull - which measures out to fifteen times the weight of the shuttle otherwise. Needless to say, no craft could possibly carry enough fuel to reach another star if it was propelled by fuel so inefficient.

A number of proposed spacecraft designs with alternative propulsion methods that have came and went since the 1970's are cycled through before landing on what is currently the most desired fuel type - antimatter. The engines hypothesized here would supposedly need only 1/10000 of a gram of antimatter to take a spacecraft with all the necessary cargo to Alpha Centauri.

The hurdles with this form of propulsion lie in the scarcity of, and difficulty in obtaining, it. Other than in incredibly trace amounts, it is not known to be found anywhere outside of black holes - which sets the stage for the possibility that if we ever want to get where we really would like to go, we'll need to go to one of the most feared places in all of physics first.

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6 years ago

Have not passed the van allen belts yet.

Michael Franicevic
8 years ago

Heat rises.A bubble floats on the air. Fluff moves up and down with the air currents.
The definition of gravity doesn't seem like it gets to most people's thinking capacity centres of their brain.
If two people are fighting and wrestling each other back and forward, then the current thinking on escaping the Earths gravitational pull results in more effort required by one person. Yet if one person takes a side-step and puts the other off balance, then they have the other beat.
Should we not be thinking side-ways instead of purely about less weight and more thrust?

8 years ago

Its quite likely the first voyages will be caught up by later human missions using more advanced propulsion maybe even warp drive or arrive only to find it long since colonised by humans and they themselves now an anachronism and historical curiosity. That said not an issue thats likely to concern anyone reading this in their lifetimes.

8 years ago

Lets forget fuel logistically if interstellar traveling is indeed, by the time human exit the spacecraft human will look like our version of how a Martian with proportionally large head, a tiny core with noodle limbs. Living in space with prolonged inactivity and less intake of nutrition with the brain being to most active of our body! This will be a one way trip regardless of survivability. If human survive the trip, what about life support such as meat, protein, veggies and other subsistence crucial to human life???

Byron Rocke
8 years ago

For those who claim it will cost too much, remember money is just IOU paper with no real economic value. It's only use is to represent valuable resources. The planet has enough resources left for the real invaluable asset, human capital to use its ingenuity to create the means to colonize space. Even if we lower the population of earth to a sustainable carrying capacity (naturally through mass starvation, wars and climate change. Although I'm naively optimistic and hopeful that we can choose population controls via education and limiting reproduction) we will still have to leave the planet and colonize outer space. The statistical probability that we will be hit by another extinction asteroid is not a matter of if but when. There is way too much sky to monitor all the civilization ending asteroids in our solar system as well you can't just blow them out of the sky, without making multiple projectiles that still end civilization. Hawking's is 100% correct, we have to leave earth if we want our species to continue. We need this insurance otherwise it will be all for nothing. This should be humanity's top priority. Putting our eggs in several baskets so we ensure the basic survival of our species.

8 years ago

In order to space travel we need to come as one and stop spending money on weaponry to kill one another. We need to learn peace and treat one another as one of our own brother and sister. Racism, greed, ignorance has to come to a complete stop. We must do what is right! Stop drilling holes into earth for oil and putting earth threatening fumes in our oxygen. More windmills and less dams for energy, more solar power.if we all as one can careless about materialistic things and greed we can build starships every unknown years and send humans out on space travel. But how the world is now we are far from it and its very sad to say. Hopefully within the next century we will come to our senses and come as one. Mars to come and interstellar

John Sweevo
8 years ago

Oh boy, this really sucks, not the "film" but the reaction it has caused.

You guys really need to get a grip, eg get out more

the cost of doing this for a start is big and you got to kid on God you dont know a thing about physics, OK just joking guys

Have a happy New Year ^^
"whisper" all conspirators put the caps together and you get a secret message

Gigi Bardel
8 years ago

we are going to kill ourselfs.
maybe our grand children will be more wise.

Gigi Bardel
8 years ago

we need to reset ourselfs before we are going to reach anywere.
we need to become a truly inteligent and human race

8 years ago

If there is a habitable planet, then it is probably inhabited (Murphys law, if something can go wrong, it will). So when we go there, if those aliens are anything like us, they are not gonna want to share their resources with us. So we should be ready for a fight, pack a few nuclear bombs on that spacecraft.

Arjan den Hollander.
8 years ago

Economics need to be revised before any of this. . . The Earth its past performance and future potential to generate new species should be recognized as representing a value beyond any measure or calculation, surpassing all economic considerations. A mother of and sanctuary for life. . . This can only be done if industry and resource economy is relocated to space and lifeless "local" celestial bodies. . . In this environment we can explore all of our most perverse of natures without any threat of extinction. . . That can ultimately lead to split populations by doctrine, from there diversification and evolution can start doing its magic once again. . . And seed the Galaxy. :)

8 years ago

All these space cadet need grant money to feed their wives and family too...lmfao!

8 years ago

I won't want to leave earth at all, I wonder how many stupid people would? Maybe there are some truth to space men of Area 51, by the time human arrive there we might look just like those alleged space travelers in our history book/stone with a big head because all their limbs turn to noodle arms and legs due to lag of exercise in zero gravity. Who in their right mind would want to go on a one way trip if they ever make it there? Lets not talk about interstellar travels, who would like to migrate to our own moon and live like rats in tubes?

8 years ago

At least, this has got people thinking of where we are and what we're doing to the planet we inhabit. Let's spend more on getting it right, here on earth. We could make this a place people would not want to leave.

Simon Manohar
8 years ago

Anyway, who is paying for all this research and space travel ? Do we need all this at all ? Shouldn't we be spending all the money on re-stabilizing the destroyed nature ?

8 years ago

so is it a good doc or not?

Kansas Devil
8 years ago

All it takes is a trigger event. There's no telling what humans will do to create one. Ir might be social, financial, technological, or military, or political. Or, we human could just sit here at home and slowly go extinct...a more likely event.

phill jurkski
8 years ago

People who want to live in Star Trek world are those at the present want to believe in good terrorist/bad terrorist.But where will that lead to.

8 years ago

A good short documentary regarding what is necessary for interstellar space travel. With that said, I am absolutely skeptical regarding the time frame (several decades) mentioned before humanity will achieve this ability. I have watched 45 years pass since humanity landed on the moon, and we would be hard pressed to do it successfully again. We will be lucky if we can put humans on Mars and safely return them to earth in the next several decades, let alone Alpha Centauri.
The awful truth is the likelihood that humanity will 'ever' achieve interstellar travel is extremely improbable. (technology, energy requirements aside) Perhaps we should concentrate on removing our cancer like attitude here on earth first, if we wish to achieve such lofty dreams.
P.S: The only chance for interstellar travel will require a thousand fold increase in intelligence, and I shouldn't need remind anyone just how slow evolution really is. (that is why we call them aliens, because they are not human)

8 years ago

A nicely-paced, thoughtful exploration of our ever-increasing need to find an alternate home, and the formidable odds against success. Still, we've beaten the odds before. If humanity is capable of one thing, it's hope against hope.

8 years ago

There could be beings out there already on there way here to refuge earth. Its goingto be pretty near to impossible even with a super starship the dangers are going to be astronomical in open space what about space cities seems more feasible to me!!!

8 years ago

Well i'm not gonna call richard branson that's for sure.

~Oliver B Koslik Esq
8 years ago

I'm on board for anything that lets me gtfo this "god" forsaken rock.


8 years ago

This isn't a documentary, its a one man home-production.

8 years ago

If we can't even live among people with a different skin color from us, what makes us think that we are ready to live among aliens who are even more biologically different from us.

If we are not ready for alien encounters, it would probably end up with us destroying them or them destroying us. Either way, I am glad that we have not mastered the technology for interstellar flight yet.

desktop joe
8 years ago

Bit of a preach and the relevance of 'that movie' was little more than eye candy and bore little true bearing to the narrative. However it was nice to see some of the earlier speculative ponderings of scientists on how we are going to actually get there and in such wonderful definition, great job on the cgi. Now I still can't get my head around the time factors involved. I think without an actual warping of space it just doesn't seem practicable to go out there and for all intents and purposes never see home or your nearest and dearest again. Of course I'd love to journey out to the stars but if it's less than light speed forget it. I'll wait until the technologies caught up with our imaginations.

8 years ago

i love this.

8 years ago

I'm not anti-matter, per se, but if I were, I'd be worth a lot!

Airvaulting for Girls
8 years ago

High production values throughout. The graphics, esp., are very well done. Even if some or most of the info is very familiar to many of you, this one is well worth a watch, imo. My only (slight) quibble is that the flat narration comes off just a little like some sort of vocal-hybrid of Boris Karloff and Charlton Heston, minus the accent.