Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Project Icarus: an Interstellar Mission Timeline

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the to-boldly-go dept.

Sci-Fi 265

astroengine writes "What would the infrastructure supporting an interstellar mission look like? Considerations such as fuel sources, mining methods, interstellar spaceship construction activities and maintenance are being analyzed, all of which would be carried out before even reaching the ultimate interstellar goal. Project Icarus is currently unravelling the complexities of this operation and recently created a nifty animation of how one of the many fuel tanks may be recycled as communication relay pods en route to nearby stars."

cancel ×

265 comments

choice of words... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075038)

Project Icarus is currently unravelling

Oh well, at least you misspelled unraveling.

Am I the only one... (1)

CowardWithAName (679157) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075572)

... who remembers the Danny Boyle movie Sunshine [wikipedia.org] ?

I fear that the fate of Project Icarus has been preordained, and it's not very good...

Re:Am I the only one... (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075848)

Preordained, perhaps, by the namesake of the project, well before motion pictures were even conceived? Remember, that time he flew too close to the sun and his wings fell off and he crashed into the ocean? I mean, why on earth would you want to name your flight-related project that? It's like launching a new cruise ship and calling it the Titanic. Really? Are there not enough Greek heroes whose missions went off without a hitch of which to name these sorts of things after? Was Apollo the only one we could think of?

Re:Am I the only one... (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075980)

Nope, that movie was the first thing that popped into my head too (oddly enough I just watched it for the first time last week).

I do agree though - given that in legend Icarus fell to his death, it's not exactly a great choice of names :).

Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1, Insightful)

Jonah Hex (651948) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075066)

Unless the Human Race spreads to other worlds, systems, and galaxies, we are dead as a species. The Universe is littered with the remains of races who never escaped their home solar system.

Wild Speculation provided by: HEX

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1)

spaceplanesfan (2120596) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075118)

I am sure you will be called a space nut, and I am sure I will be called such too.
But yet, I agree that we need to explore the universe. Its is our only way to understand it.
I am not sure that we need to worry about our rock for now, rather we need to worry about preserving it.
So its not about an escape from the earth, its more about escape from the information cage we are in.
We are like ants, and know our ant house very well, but nothing beyond that.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075196)

We need to escape a lot to be able to survive space exploration as the human race. All the hate, jealousy, religion, economy, and politics will ruin anything in no time.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075224)

It may have been wild speculation but in fact I think these may be good predictions.

Firstly, the sun is eventually going to render the Earth uninhabitable so - assuming we survive that long - we'll have to leave.

Secondly, with the Universe being such a big place I'd wager my last penny on there being millions upon millions of intelligent species and so at least one that has died out confined to their planet.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075266)

The Sun running out of fuel in four billion years is not something to worry about.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075388)

Why not? Whether it expands to engulf the Earth, broils it or simply cools to the point where it's not giving out enough energy to sustain us we're still fucked. Proper fucked. The point is that it won't last forever.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (2)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075452)

Nothing lasts forever. Eventually there will be no more stars, do you worry about that too?

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (2)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076042)

That's a problem a bit farther out (quite a bit, as its theorized that most smaller red dwarf stars will have lifespans measured in TRILLIONS of solar-years - which is an odd unit of measurement on that time scale - by that time a Solar year will be about as completely arbitrary a measurement as we can imagine). I'm sure that EVENTUALLY it will be a problem for someone though. Maybe our descendants - maybe a different species.

Overall though, all successful life has an instinctual gravitation towards preservation of one's self and one's offspring. Without that drive we would die out. Even on an individual level it makes no sense as you could say why even live if we all are going to die anyways. In the end it doesn't matter - it's all about maximizing the time alive, regardless of the inevitability of death. Eventually we'll all be gone - everyone and everything - but you can bet that whatever species are still living in the final days, they'll fight for survival down to the very last minute. It's just how things work.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075496)

And we need to worry about it this century because ...? Shouldn't our species wait until we're a bit beyond rocket propulsion and have bothered to step foot on more than our moon before we start planning for exploring other star systems? And besides, it will be our machines, not us who does the space exploration. We're way too delicate and expensive to maintain on long space voyages. And the next star is a very long ways away (yes, 4 light years is a vast distance).

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (0)

Cold hard reality (1536175) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075506)

The human race is a few million years old, science and technology a few hundred years old. Why the hurry? Let's tackle the Sun dying out in a couple of billion years after we have some more experience. That leaves us another two billion years to test out newly-developed technology.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075856)

Just to nit-pick, technology has been around much longer than "a few hundred years". The first time some dude figured out that hitting an animal with a heavy stick was more effective than kicking it, the club became revolutionary "modern" technology. Of course, later, there was the revolutionary "pointy stick" invention that took its place beside the "heavy stick". In a few hundred years, it will be just as laughable that magnetic data storage was ever considered "modern".

That said, I agree entirely. On the "star death" frame of time, we're working our way up to being infants. Let's get stuff figured out enough to explore OUR solar system before shooting out toward others. And, most likely, if there are other "intelligent" species out there they're either millions of years more evolved or less evolved than we are.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (2)

avgjoe62 (558860) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075536)

Given that our species in its current form has only been around for something like 300,000 years, I am not going to worry about the sun burning out in five billion years, at least not when there are so many other ways - and a lot of those self-inflicted - we could all kick the proverbial bucket.

Face it, if we haven't figured out how to get out of the way of the sun burning up by the time it happens, we don't deserve to survive.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1)

ah.clem (147626) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075860)

Not wanting to appear to be a troll or anything, but what is your point? I do enjoy the notion of space travel, and I think we should try to be the best we can be, but really, what does it matter if it all goes to shit? Four billion years is quite a long time; I don't see anything in the species that indicates it will be around for a fraction of that. In less than a billion years, the sun will have increased it's output enough to boil all the water off the planet. Four billion years later (or so), it will most likely all be gone. I believe humans will be extinct long before the oceans boil.

Do a simple experiment; on your white board in your office, draw a line representing one billion years (MTBF for the earth); now above it, draw a dot that represents about 250,00-300,000 years (approximate time since archaic humans appeared on the scene). Now, look at the two lines (well, a line and a dot, really) and think about humans and how long a billion years is. Do you really believe that we won't destroy ourselves accidentally or on purpose long before the sun does?

The numbers are against us, all the way.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076072)

Actually, MTBF for Earth life is 50-150 MY and the last one was 65-66 Ma.

Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event (End Cretaceous or K-T extinction) – 65.5 Ma
Triassic–Jurassic extinction event (End Triassic) – 205 Ma
Permian–Triassic extinction event (End Permian) – 251 Ma
Late Devonian extinction – 360–375 Ma
Ordovician–Silurian extinction event (End Ordovician or O-S) – 440–450 Ma
End-Ediacaran extinction - 542 Ma

No, I don't think Humans have the ability to destroy the entire species, vertebrate life has evolved to be very resilient. Look at Crocodilia, they've survived massive climate change, mass extinction events and wild continental drifts, all without any technology.

Humans won't last forever, very few species have or do, but I don't have such hubris to think we will last forever or to think we can destroy ourselves.

I figure another 5-10,000 years before we've left this planet and 25-50,000 before humans are gone, for whatever reason.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075898)

Human evolution has lasted about 3-4 million years, do you really think it's going to continue for 4-5 billion?

I won't be proper fucked by something that happens in 4-5 billion years, nor will anyone or their descendants 300 generations in the future.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1)

camperslo (704715) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076180)

The real question is, what will your atoms be a part of? Or will you be energy?

Maybe someday I will travel to another star system as a beam of light, and shine on the solar cell of a childs' toy.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1)

wpi97 (901954) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075906)

There are plenty of other possible and even plausible events that can make the Earth uninhabitable or at least extremely uncomfortable: collision with an asteroid or a comet, eruption of a super-volcano, another ice age, a gamma ray burst, etc. And such an even can occur at any moment, so having all our eggs in one proverbial basket is a bad idea.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (2)

udoschuermann (158146) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076166)

It will be quite a bit less time than four billion years before life on Earth becomes increasingly uncomfortable: By the time that another 500 million years have passed the sun will be producing about 10% more heat, drastically reducing the availability of liquid water on Earth's surface.

Yes, 500 million years is a long time, it's about as long as fish have existed, and longer than plants on land. It's about 8 times longer than the dinosaurs have been extinct, but from the beginning of life on Earth to the end of it in about 500 million years, we're down to the final 10 or 15 percent of the remaining span of comfort.

Add to that the pressure of a dense population competing for natural resources, and the the impact of their waste on the environment, and I think we can either sit around and squabble for grub until the end of time, or export our exciting life style to another world before things get too crazy back here at home.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1)

INeededALogin (771371) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075354)

You clearly are the product of a deranged imagination. Everyone knows that the population of the whole universe is zero.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075490)

You clearly are the product of a deranged imagination. Everyone knows that the intelligent population of the whole universe is zero.

FTFY

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1)

INeededALogin (771371) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076070)

You clearly are the product of a deranged imagination. Everyone knows that the intelligent population of the whole universe is zero.

FTFY

You obviously don't know the quote.

"It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination."

-- Douglas Adams (Restaurant at the End of the Universe)

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075446)

Firstly, the sun is eventually going to render the Earth uninhabitable so - assuming we survive that long - we'll have to leave.

These are the words of someone who clearly has zero concept of the planet's past and future timelines, where we currently are in that timeline, and mankind's own history in relation to the planet's timeline.

Hint: An event that's expected to happen in 6 to 7 billion years isn't something we should worry about at all, especially when you consider that mankind has existed for 1 to 2 million years at most of the planet's 4.5 billion year history.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075226)

The universe is full of life forms living on planets that recognized how precious their planet is and chose a better social structure to allow continued survival within the bounds of reality.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (2)

djp928 (516044) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075342)

And then their stars became red giants, and they all died.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075518)

The universe is full of life forms living on planets that recognized how precious their planet is and chose a better social structure to allow continued survival within the bounds of reality.

And in a few tens of millions of years, these New Worlds and the creatures that stagnated upon them shall be ours to harvest, just as "the" New World was a scant 600 years ago.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1)

Cold hard reality (1536175) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075362)

Even if we do spread to other worlds, systems, and galaxies we're doomed as a species. Who cares if it happens in 4 billion or 100 billion years?

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (2)

DM9290 (797337) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075458)

I care. Because 100 billion years of life is better than 4 billion years of life.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1)

Cold hard reality (1536175) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075540)

How old are you?

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (2, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075594)

I care. Because 100 billion years of life is better than 4 billion years of life.

You aren't going to have either, though. Those billions of years of life are nothing more than a phantasm in the here and now. You will never, ever know whether we as a species will make it a hundred billion years, four billion years, or four thousand years. It might as well be a gazillion years, because you won't be around for a hundred. And nothing, nothing you do in your lifetime will make a difference to the longevity of the species as a whole, and how we face problems four billion years in the future.

Nice that you are thinking ahead, though. Fantasizing about the impossibly distant future is no different than fantasizing about becoming a superhero or the King of Westeros. It's a great way to ignore real-world, present day problems while puffing up your own ego by imagining that you are pondering the really weighty, long term problems.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076044)

And nothing, nothing you do in your lifetime will make a difference to the longevity of the species as a whole...

Absolutely true!!

That's why I don't really bother too much with disposing of things correctly (old computer, monitors and everything else go straight into the trash to be picked up in front of my house)....I don't drive slow, and while I don't have a gas guzzler anymore...I don't go out of my way to conserve gas, I drive like a bat outta hell 'cause it is fun.

I mean...a generation from now...what they hell, no one there is going to know who I was, or blame me for anything (debt, ecological, etc). And I'll be long dead, so, what do I care?

To paraphrase Jim Morrison, 'I'm gonna get my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames...'

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076116)

I'd rather dream big and fail than dream of nothing.

You mention that the dreamers are "ignoring the real-world, present day problems" but you fail to recognize that those problems are laughably irrelevant in the longer term as well.

So not only are you keeping your head resolutely down, but you're glorifying focusing on irrelevant trivia as if it were something meaningful.

Most of the "problems" of today will be completely irrelevant 100 years from now, and almost certainly NOT because of people who refused to dream, but because of people who looked out at the vastness and said, "Why not?"

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075596)

Even if we do spread to other worlds, systems, and galaxies we're doomed as a species. Who cares if it happens in 4 billion or 100 billion years?

Those born between the year 4 billion and the year 100 billion?

Their ancestors?

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1)

Cold hard reality (1536175) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075700)

Well, let's start worrying about it a billion years before it happens.

Worrying about it now is like a 20 second old fetus planning its retirement.

btw, in 4 billion years are descendants may well not be human. Are you sure you want them to live? Maybe they'll all be monsters.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075488)

"Unless the Human Race spreads to other worlds, systems, and galaxies, we are dead as a species."

Yep, we're pretty much just another virus.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075818)

Unless the Human Race spreads to other worlds, systems, and galaxies, we are dead as a species.

God, I am so sick of hearing that tired old cliche. Even putting aside the time scales we are talking here, there is absolutely no calamity, short of any earth-destroying asteroid (nothing even close to which has been encountered since MAYBE the strike that may have created the moon) or the sun going all Krypton on us (sure, in a few billion years) that is going to make the earth LESS survivable than any other planet or body in this solar system, and likely any other solar system for dozens of light years out (which are essentially unreachable by man).

If we had a Yucatan strike today, we would be much better off tunneling deep underground than trying to mount a ship to some Mars colony. Even a post-strike earth would still have water, supplies of oxygen, survivable atmospheric pressure, much more cosmic radiation protection, etc. compared to Mars. And it wouldn't require an extremely resource intensive journey to get underground. The earth of the only planet on which humans can survive for any length of time in a self-sufficient manner. Every other planet in the solar system is a death-trap (and there is no reason to suspect otherwise for any other solar system within reach--which currently includes no solar systems besides our own, BTW).

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076144)

Even if there was a Yucatan or Sudbery sized strike today, without tunneling, humans would survive and in a few generations pick up the pieces that remained.

I'm in Alaska, if something hit the Yucatan or deep ocean and balled things up, we still have food sources, fuel. It'd get colder for a while, more snow, glaciers advance, they've come and gone before while humans lived here.

Best chances for survival are going to be at the fringes of the globe, Alaska, Iceland, Lapland, Siberia, tip of South America, Reunion Islands, Russian Far East, Manchuria, Hokkaido, etc.

Re:Escape the Solar System, and Galaxy (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075914)

Unless the Human Race spreads to other worlds, systems, and galaxies, we are dead as a species.

We are dead as a species.
FTFY - Heat death FTW

To go (1)

aetherian (2006940) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075068)

Hopefully this will encourage people/organizations/other to put effort into space exploration, as there hasn't seemed to be much going on as of recent, but for the occasional happening.

Icarus? (5, Insightful)

Quato (132194) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075072)

I question naming the project Icarus... maybe you don't want to pick a guy who fell to his death for trying to fly too high.
I mean, isn't Icarus associated with failed ambitions?

Re:Icarus? (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075316)

it is a prophetic name...

"it will never get off the ground Orville" - Wilbur

this time i really think it wont fly

Re:Icarus? (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075392)

Depends. As I understand it in Greece Icarus is the hero figure because he didn't play it safe. I guess it all depends on your point of view.

Re:Icarus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075962)

Pretty much. Even Stargate (universe) used it as a project name for a planet that eventually exploded.
Also the series in general, sadly.

Icarus? (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075076)

I suppose they are planning on a really close flyby to the star

Oh good grief... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075084)

We have nothing even close to what's required. Ever. Get over it. There was no such thing even in the full swing of the Space Age. Nothing much has changed since then. The first one who says "computers" will have to show how a 747 fueled with iPods can get anywhere.

If that's too subtle for you, we have no materials and no energy sources for this. Throw away your Star Trek DVDs and engage your fucking brains.

Re:Oh good grief... (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075156)

It could potentially be done very, very slowly, with nuclear reactors and ion engines.

I agree, though, that it is not particularly likely any time within the next hundred years.

Re:Oh good grief... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075974)

Sure, if you can build a spacecraft that can survive the 100,000 year journey, no problem. Alternately, you could build a propulsion system that could get to at least a substantial fraction of the speed of light. Only now you also have to invent a magic construction material that will allow it to withstand the incredible force of micrometeorite collisions at that speed (think of it as constantly hitting bombs several times more powerful than any nuke, head-on).

Re:Oh good grief... (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076212)

No one knows exactly how sparsely these micrometeors are distributed, so the vehicle might not hit any of them at all. And depending on their size, they might not be all that powerful either (hitting a single molecule or atom will not hurt you even if you're going 1/2 the speed of light). In any case, it's better to try.

Re:Oh good grief... (5, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075200)

1000 years ago: "Harrumpf! The world is flat! Sail on towards your oblivion, fools!"
100 years ago: "Harrump! If got meant for men to fly, he'd have given us wings!"
75 years ago: "Harrumpf! Faster than the speed of sound? Never!"
~50 years ago: "Harrumpf! There's no way we can get to the moon!"
40 years ago: "Harrumpf! Home computing? I think not!"
30 years ago: "Harrumpf! Who needs more than 64K?"
20 years ago: "Harrumpf! What good is this 'internet' thing for?"

ACs: shitting on everyone's ideas for 1000 years.

Re:Oh good grief... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075402)

People knew the Earth was round 1000 years ago. Each of your points was addressed with the REAL, ACTUAL, EXISTING technology of the time. What you Space Nutters keep drooling over CAN NOT, *EVER*, be accomplished by anything that is even remotely technologically feasible. Get over it. Human flight was done in a few years because it was possible, sometimes with late 19th century technology.

You Space Nutters don't appreciate (that's smart talk for "understand") the sheer scale of what you're proposing, and how utterly weak our technology actually is. We're good at making bits. We can store sounds and movies. Big whoop.

Re:Oh good grief... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075628)

What Space Nutters sound like to me are the people who thought we'd get to the Moon by tying a lot of geese together. Totally inadequate. And in 500 years people will look back at the utterly unrealistic fantasy-based visions of a few white nerds and have a good laugh, while riding their horses to work.

Re:Oh good grief... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075678)

And in 500 years people will look back at the utterly unrealistic fantasy-based visions of a few white nerds and have a good laugh, while riding their horses to work.

Don't worry, QA. You'll have been dead for at least 400 years by that point.

Re:Oh good grief... (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075414)

1000 years ago: "Harrumpf! The world is flat! Sail on towards your oblivion, fools!"

That was closer to about 2200 years ago: Aristotle argued the world was round in about 350 BCE, and Eratosthenes had attempted to measure it sometime in the 3rd century BCE.

The reason the naysayers thought Christopher Columbus was a bit of an idiot was not that they thought the world was flat, but because they thought it was about 2.5 times as large as Columbus claimed it was (which was in fact true). The primary reason Columbus didn't end up starving to death somewhere in the middle of the ocean was because he got lucky and found land.

The whole "flat Earth" story was made up by Washington Irving in an attempt to make Columbus appear more heroic rather than the smart sailor but complete and utter bastard that most of the primary sources suggest.

Re:Oh good grief... (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075946)

Aristotle argued the world was round in about 350 BCE, and Eratosthenes had attempted to measure it sometime in the 3rd century BCE.

Yes, and the Romans built great works of engineering [wikipedia.org] that were abandoned a thousand years later. The fact that ancient Greeks knew the earth was round does not imply medieval Europeans knew it. Sure, a few scholars did, but it was a counter-intuitive fact that went against all logic.

Of course, the king of Spain did have "technical" consultants that knew the classic Greek writings, so they knew about the theory of the round earth, but it probably had the same credibility as that of evolution in present day Texas.

As for the question of the size of the earth and the longitude of east Asia, that involves the problem of calculating longitude, a problem that didn't have a solution until the late 1700s [wikipedia.org]

So, I will give Columbus credit for this: he was the only person in his era that had such a firm conviction on the roundness of earth that he was willing to bet his own life on it. He may have got the size of the earth wrong, but he might have also assumed that some islands should exist along the way so he would not starve.

Re:Oh good grief... (1)

Cold hard reality (1536175) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075442)

108 years ago: first aircraft made of wood and cloth, driven by propellers
67 years ago: jet fighters
57 years ago: subsonic jet airliners made of aluminum
35 years ago: supersonic jet airliners
20 years ago: bigger, better subsonic jet airliners
10 years ago: bigger, better subsonic jet airliners
now: bigger, better subsonic jet airliners made of composites

Eventually the exponential growth in technology slows, and we are left with incremental improvements. Don't let Moore's law blind you, it only holds for semiconductors, and not for long there either.

Yes, oh good grief is the right response (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075502)

Good grief, what makes you think we know, now, that future tech will never find a way to get to the stars in any reasonable time with a reasonable energy cost?

Good grief, use current tech limits to whine that chemical rockets can't do the trick.

Good grief, whine that current physics knowledge won't allow faster than light travel or even communication.

Good grief, whine that we know everything today and will never ever come up with any new ideas. Wormholes? Science fiction without the science. Too afraid to come up with any alternatives because we already know there aren't any. 107 years ago saw the first controlled (barely) powered (barely) flight (barely). You'd have stopped there even though we have thousands of years ahead of us that will make the last 107 look as slow as those 107 made the prior 107 years look.

People like you would never have even kept a lightning strike fire going "because we don't know how to start one ourselves".

Never would have tinkered with Newcomen's engine to make it better, never would have dreamed of putting it on rails or in a boat, because 5 psi isn't good enough and it burns too much wood and we will never know how to make better metals or find better fuels.

Never would have investigated the speed of light in ether, never would have wondered why it showed no variation, never would have wondered where radiation came from, never would have wondered about anything.

On and on, whiners like you are left in the dust by those who dream. What a dreary world you live in.

Re:Oh good grief... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075550)

Didn't a group design an interplanetary/interstellar spacecraft back in the 60's (Below). Its only real drawbacks are that it requires the construction of a rather large spacecraft in orbit (100,000 Tons or larger) which would be rather expensive, it uses nuclear bombs as propulsion (politically problematic but possibly advantageous as a method of using up old bomb stockpiles) and can only go ~3% light speed. However with an international effort it would be economically feasible. Based on 60s tech it could make it to Alpha Centauri in ~44 years, upgraded with modern technologies such as carbon fiber, new alloys, and better nuclear weapons tech it might be able to cut that down to ~30 Years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orion_(nuclear_propulsion)

So they named it Project Icarus... (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075120)

because the idea is for it to:

obtain an eventual cruise velocity of 36,000km/s or 12% of light speed from over 700kN of thrust, burning at a specific impulse of 1 million seconds, reaching its destination in approximately 50 years

and then plunge into the destination star, destroying itself?

Re:So they named it Project Icarus... (1)

spaceplanesfan (2120596) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075366)

More likely zoom past it.
That project sure is unrealistic, but there is remote plausible situation in which it will work.
Image that another star has ~95% earth like planet. If it finds it, we can really send a group of peoples one way there using similar ship.
While its hard to decelerate from 0.10C, we could decelerate just the small capsule with humans inside.
Of course like I said that is very very hard, because we need a way to keep these humans alive for about 50 years.
(and let them reproduce). For that we will need a lot of food and oxygen.
(water isn't a problem because it can be recycled).

Re:So they named it Project Icarus... (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075548)

What's wrong with keeping them as embryos until the said system is reached at the desired decelerated velocity?

Re:So they named it Project Icarus... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075952)

well, that solves some problems but raises others:

namely that without a system for educating the embryos they's be several kinds of useless once the got there, and the engineering required for putting together an autonomous education system would be an ethical minefield (imagine the sorts of trouble you could get into for raising a score of babies with beta software to ferret out the bugs).

atmosphere infactdead, replaced with atmostfear.us (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075128)

so, once one lie is 'infactated', the rest becomes just more errant fatal history.

disarm. tell the truth. the sky is not ours to toy with after all?

you call this 'weather'? what with real history racing up to correct itself, while the holycostal life0ciders continually attempt to rewrite it. fortunately, there's still only one version of the truth, & it's usually not a long story, or a confusing multiple choice fear raising event.

disarmament is taking place based on the pure intentions of the majority of the planet's chosen to be depopulated, population. as the biblical fiction based chosen ones have only one ability, which is destruction for personal gain, they just don't fit in with all the new life extending stuff that's we're being advised to ignore. life likes to continue, advance etc... deception & death appear to have similar ambitions. with malestromous monday on the horizon, wouldn't this be a great time to investigate the genuine native elders social & political leadership initiative, which includes genuine history as put forth in the teepeeleaks etchings. the natives still have no words in their language to describe the events following their 'discovery' by us, way back when. they do advise that it's happening again.

Re:atmosphere infactdead, replaced with atmostfear (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075658)

Please get help, and get on some better medication. We've been watching you go downhill for years now. Schizophrenia is a hell of a disease, and untreated, it can lead to you becoming a danger to yourself and others.

Daedalus it is. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075148)

Maybe we should go for project Daedalus.

Let's REALLY plan ahead (3, Funny)

serutan (259622) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075242)

Let's assume full deceleration at the target star has been achieved ... By that time, near-Earth telescopes would be sufficiently advanced to verify and inform the Icarus computers ...

... that the pre-warp technology museum on Starbase 235 is prepared to receive it in docking bay 19.

Re:Let's REALLY plan ahead (0)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075782)

There is no such thing as warp. We will never travel faster than the speed of light.
Sub-light speed travel is the only option. Get over it.

Re:Let's REALLY plan ahead (2)

Xupa (1313669) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076014)

There is no such thing as warp. We will never travel faster than the speed of light.

A material that allows evergy to only pass one way seems like it would defy some sort of law of physics.

still not strong enough for the space elevator tether... so meh

going from XP to Win7 will be a nightmare and we all know it. It might just be easier to switch to linux desktops.

Srsly, science. Just give up. Focus on things Charlie says is possible, like computerized contact lenses. Or alien cloning.

What we're headed for is a smartphone like device hooked up to a pair of eyeglasses via bluetooth (or whatever) that have a heads up display in them. Eventually the phone will go away and be part of the glasses... then eventually the glasses will go away and be replaced by contacts. It's only a matter of time.

I want future aliens to come, find our database and raise me from the dead... so I'm all for this.

Re:Let's REALLY plan ahead (2)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076092)

You can't say that FTL travel is impossible until we learn everything about physics.

It violates what we currently understand of physics.

Aww (1)

Chaonici (1913646) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075246)

I saw "Project Icarus: an Interstallar Mission Timeline" and thought we were finally going to research a way to dial the ninth chevron. Alas, disappointed yet again.

i don't see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075336)

the point in the timeline where after generations, the crew gradually forgets about their mission,
divides into castes, and has a civil war...until the ship has arrived at its destination and is
on the brink of destruction, and a lone plucky teenager and sidekick discover the original
mission and saves everyone

Re:i don't see (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075514)

What is the story to which you're alluding to? The only science-fiction work I know of where the people of a generational starship forget the mission and start infighting is Gene Wolfe's The Book of the Long Sun [amazon.com] . What other books have such a plot?

Re:i don't see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075788)

Wall-E.

They have to fight the AI of the ship.

Isn't this covered by Stargate Universe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075358)

Of course, it is ending with tonight's episode.

duh, look at the requirements first? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075370)

Considerations such as fuel sources, mining methods, interstellar spaceship construction activities and maintenance are being analyzed, all of which would be carried out before even reaching the ultimate interstellar goal.

Let's think about what this statement is really saying, and then slap our heads with a "Gee, Beav! Y'think?" I know that when I decide to walk across a huge desert that I wouldn't consider little trifles like food or water beforehand...

Silly. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075418)

Just use an interstellar ramjets and cold sleep. At least until we make contact with the Outsiders and get hyperdrive technology.
And if you see something that looks like a pair of sock puppets do not trust it.

Re:Silly. (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075454)

Embryos in liquid nitrogen with a lot of radiation shielding, artificial wombs, robots to raise them when they get there.

Like Hogan's Voyage from Yesteryear

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embryo_space_colonization [wikipedia.org]

Re:Silly. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075758)

Actually Larry Niven's Known Space.

Re:Silly. (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075866)

Niven did it too huh?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyage_from_Yesteryear [wikipedia.org] - theres Hogan's, it was a neat read back then.

Re:Silly. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076178)

Interstellar niven did interstellar ram jets and cold sleep back in the 60s or I think. He started known space with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_of_Ptavvs [wikipedia.org] in 66.
Don't know when he had ships with Embryos on them. But Clark did that with the short story Songs of Distant Earth published in 1958.

and away we go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075424)

The ability to manufacture and create new technologies is pivotal in the success of interstellar travel. The people need to be able to continuously develop new methods of improving the experience. The problem is a finite design is released while newer methods are being developed back on earth. This results in a severe limitation of the capabilities of the mission. The pre-existing infrastructure will require n+x redundancy.

This mission needs the ability to seek out new materials. I would start with creating deep space manufacturing and materials stations and then build the interstellar travelers in space. Food will be required to be grown and harvested while in space. Most likely this will initially require a plant-based diet for those on board. Water generation is always a concern but hydrogen and oxygen are available from various sources.

Peta-bytes in reading material and other ways for people to be active will be paramount in the missions success. I would also give a years worth of time for people to acclimate to the new way of living. The change will be drastic.

Once all of this is achieved then several theoretical experiments can commence. By this point in time a great distance from earth will be reached and very drastic experimentation, harnessing black-hole energy as an example. This point will finally allow humans to begin to get out of this current primitive level of existence and begin to enjoy the myriad of wonders that await us all.

Early adopter problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075470)

The main problem with going on the first journey is that you are bound to picked up on the way there by a faster ship sent years later, crewed by people more advanced than yourself. Which means your whole journey was rather pointless, you could have done it all in a simulator. I think most societies must perfect virtual reality before they leave their own solar systems. So then why go anywhere, you can be anywhere and do anything right at home.

Re:Early adopter problem (1)

silverspell (1556765) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076156)

The main problem with going on the first journey is that you are bound to picked up on the way there by a faster ship sent years later, crewed by people more advanced than yourself.

This is the premise of A.E. Van Vogt's story "Far Centaurus", which I learned about via Barnard’s Star and the ‘Wait Equation’ [centauri-dreams.org] , an article/blogpost on the same topic on the Tau Zero Foundation site.

No Thanks! (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075544)

These guys probably thought, with society's short attention span, they'd waited long enough to fool everyone! But I just watched Die Another Day [imdb.com] last night, so I know exactly what Project Icarus is! These guys are North Korean plants!

However, if they're willing to give me some quality time with Rosamund Pike [imdb.com] ... I'll gladly turn a blind eye to their machinations.

Crew? (1)

Vrallis (33290) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075574)

One major project 'section' I notice missing from their site is the crew. They cover the goal of reaching a star within a human lifetime, but I didn't see anything about it being multi-generation. Sending out a bunch of 20 year olds on a 50 year mission seems to leave little time for serious research at the destination planet, assuming they all even live that long.

I'm all for making some attempts at interstellar travel, but it almost has to be designed with a sustaining colony in mind. That means enough crew that, after accounting for typical numbers of deaths, birth defects, etc, can produce a genetically viable long-term colony.

There are a few problems though that human society has to get past, particularly from the typical American view-point:

- One-way trip; we are sending the entire crew to their deaths, whether they procreate or not, never to return to earth.
- Planned breeding. With a small population the exact pairings must be planned out in advance to prevent genetic problems. IVF or even the old turkey baster may be sufficient to get around the social aspects of actual intercourse. This will also likely mean multiple children by different fathers.
- Forced careers/labor. With each generation--particularly if the are born and raised into adulthood while still on board a ship--most will need to fill certain highly skilled roles. I can imagine this would harken back to older times where parents passed on their specific skills to their children.

There is also the issue of what if they arrive at the target planet and discover it really isn't habitable? There probably need to be contingency plans to make the trip to the next possible candidate. This is something that they could be actively looking for during the trip itself.

After a colony is established and a couple generations (with very large families) then the majority of the above can go away and begin to turn into a typical human society.

Re:Crew? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075716)

There is also the issue of what if they arrive at the target planet and discover it really isn't habitable? There probably need to be contingency plans to make the trip to the next possible candidate. This is something that they could be actively looking for during the trip itself.

That's why you're better off building fully self contained permanently habitable stationary colonies every couple months along the path. As a bonus, you'll probably end up with something like a trillion times earths surface area as permanently habitable stations. On the down side that is going to take a heck of a lot of material. It'll take a lot longer, but the rewards are greater.

Its a very American perspective to try to get their first, once, and just as a stunt. Much better to settle colonies all along the way.

Why spread the dysfunction? (1)

Syncerus (213609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075616)

Seriously, folks, why are we so eager to spread our dysfunction? Until we can manage the basics of sanity here on Earth, we have no business spreading to the stars. I'm not even talking about an idealised society of some kind; I'm just suggesting basic stability, justice and social order. Two thirds of the globe live in grinding misery,most of which is entirely preventable. I'd even go so far as to say that 85% of human misery is self-inflicted; the remainder is inherent in the human condition.

By any reasonable metric, social science has fallen abjectly behind "hard" science. In my view, this is because of the primacy of subjectivism and relativism in the humanities, but I'm certainly open to other explanations. I'm not opposed to space travel, even interstellar travel, which is almost entirely wishful thinking by the innumerate, I just think we should put our own house in order before we trash our neighbour's place.

Re:Why spread the dysfunction? (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075968)

Dysfunction? Seriously, speak for (and get over) yourself. Sure, there are plenty of dysmal things in our history but there is greatness too, and there are men and women everywhere, poor or well-off, who are striving to be better than they are. This dream of travelling to the stars is part of that.

On the other hand, some say that we need to spread out beyond Earth because we are so dysfunctional, and now have the capacity to destroy ourselves.

Re:Why spread the dysfunction? (1)

Cheeko (165493) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076114)

Additionally many have postulated that it would take going to the stars to truely put humanity in perspective and allow us to co-exist. There will always be political infighting, but going to the stars will make many of the things we squabble over seem rather minor in comparison. Additionally any generational craft like this would likely have to be a cross national mission, which has the potential to foster a more unified humanity as it progresses.

Re:Why spread the dysfunction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36076176)

I knew there would be a self hater sooner or later. OMG, the human race is so evil, so broken, ewww. Why don't you step off the planet for awhile?

Exploration leads to scientific advancements which lead to a better quality of life for everyone. I also sincerely doubt your numbers are anywhere near realistic. Two thirds of the globe live in grinding misery? I don't think you know what misery is.

You believe both that we are such awesome beings that we can affect the universe in a negative way while at the same time so dysfunctional that we can't even mange to run our own planet.

As for those who do not believe we will ever achieve interstellar travel, though out history, before the technology to do so was discovered, there are always those who say something is impossible. Sailing around the world, flying, going to the moon, going to Mars, always someone has said these things are impossible. Don't tell me we will never be able to do something unless you know every discovery we will ever make.

Za'ha'doom (2)

rlp (11898) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075672)

Icarus might want to avoid it. Just sayin' ...

I think we are already doing this... (1)

davevr (29843) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075676)

Considering you need:
  • * sufficient population to have genetic diversity
  • * sustainable food and water for the entire trip
  • * source of materials for clothing, tools, habitat repair, etc.
  • * a source of gravity close to 1g so that life as we know it can function
  • * a protective shield that can withstand intense radiation, meteor strikes, etc.
  • * an energy source that can power the whole thing for thousands of years

I think the smallest possible intersteller vessel is probably an Earth-like planet in orbit around a Sol-like star. So now the question is, where are going??
- davevr

Re:I think we are already doing this... (1)

callmebill (1917294) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076206)

"Sufficient population blah diversity"... Send a wide variety of sperm sample and some ladies with big hips.

not manned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36075766)

to everyone commenting about human concerns with such a mission, RTFA/site. The purpose is a thought experiment to design a mission to send an unmanned probe to nearby stars, in the same vein as a similar inquiry almost 40 years ago, Project Daedalus. There is really nothing "nerd nutty" here, but instead an interesting discussion about a very achievable goal.

Why name it... (2)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075810)

...after the guy responsible for the first pilot-error accident?

Exceeded the rated service ceiling of his aircraft, inducing a thermal environment that caused primary structural debonding, and left a parabolic trail of wax, feathers and Greek obscenities into the Sea of Crete...

rj

It Depends on How You Define Mission (1)

anorlunda (311253) | more than 3 years ago | (#36075956)

I recall hearing about a fun concept. It would use a solar sail only 2 molecules in thickness and a single chip payload weighing only a gram or two. It would be accelerated by laser to 0.25 to reach Proxima Centauri in about 17 years and beam close-up pictures home. No need to decelerate.

Does that qualify as an interstellar mission?

Not with Unity! (0)

wfstanle (1188751) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076130)

Unbuntu will never hit that target if they continue to push that Unity stuff down the throat of their user base. I'm a Unbuntu user and would like it if they gave a choice at upgrade time. Unity could be a choice (even the default choice) but they make it hard to install a different desktop. You have to jump through all sorts of hoops to get other than Unity.

Mea culpa! (1)

wfstanle (1188751) | more than 3 years ago | (#36076188)

Oops! I read the summary, logged it and went to the wrong article. Mea culpa!

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...