Author Topic: When will we have Spacecraft like that of, Futurama, or StarWars/Trek?  (Read 8919 times)

Offline Astrosurf

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Hey there, I was wondering, when are we most likely going to have spaceships like that of Futurama, or Starwars, or Star trek? ???
I'm talking about a spaceship that can take off SSTO go inter planetary within a couple days, or hours?
I'm guessing obviously not anytime soon, probably either by the year 3000, or 2500-2600 ::)
feel free to comment
 I just want to Know if those kind of ships will ever become realistic
« Last Edit: 05/05/2014 01:32 AM by Astrosurf »

Offline cuddihy

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Depends on whether or not we ever master control of inertia, mass, or gravity by human-scale energy. Paul March (posts here under handle StarDrive) did a fascinating ppt ten years ago or so that actually dissected in detail the physical requirements of "real space ships" like we all think should exist, specifically propulsion requirements.

Satisfyingly "proves" that any vessel that requires expelling mass like a conventional rocket can never produce the effects Sci-Fi dreams of. While, on the other hand, it's relatively easy in a propellant-less or 'recycled' propellant system. That's what led him initially to Woodward mach effects I believe. But the propellant / propulsion stuff stands on its own I believe.

Offline AlanSE

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Unfortunately for the aspiring space cowboys, our future in space will be more about fixed infrastructure, as opposed to single ships.  Think railroads, as opposed to the do-anything Star Trek ships.

Interplanetary travel within days is somewhat absurd.  Not particularly relativistic, but the marginal effort to decrease from months to days is massive, and there's no benefit other than the trip time.  Still, if we're allowing for a hyper-abundant future, it's not impossible.  You could employ an electromagnetic accelerator in cislunar space which accelerates the craft, and then in Mars orbit another one is ready to stop it.

If you want an alternative, extraordinarily dense matter could do the same thing.  Say we compressed the moon to a black hole, or degenerate matter (or much smaller masses, I can go into the parameter selection).  In this scenario, the space ship passes right within the maximum tolerable tidal forces.  Gravitational potential is huge, it fires its rockets, gains a huge Oberth effect, and makes an extremely fast voyage.  It it caught by passing by a similar thing in Mars orbit.

This is doubtfully possible given what we know about black holes (due to the energy and risk of creating one).  However, we can't dismiss an undiscovered extremely dense matter state.  It couldn't be a neutron star exactly, since gravity isn't strong enough, but something else might be possible.

These methods could be repeated without limit as far as we can tell.  Reusable launch vehicles and launch assist systems could similarly connect Earth with space.  But their viability comes down to launch rate.  Sure, you could own shares in the company that runs the system.  Maybe you could even own the title to a single ship within this system, but this is only a false sense of independence.

One of the reasons people like space is a bygone romanticism from the American frontier days.  In the actual future, independence will have a cost, and few people will be willing to pay it.  The story of our lives today is globalization, and this might evolve into solar system-ization one day.

Our mental images have been slow to reflect the most likely reality, but that's how history has always been.

Offline IRobot

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Interplanetary travel within days is somewhat absurd.  Not particularly relativistic, but the marginal effort to decrease from months to days is massive, and there's no benefit other than the trip time.  Still, if we're allowing for a hyper-abundant future, it's not impossible. 
Not really. A fusion drive could easily allow a trip to Mars in one week. Although it does not make much sense to shorten it so much for Mars, it sure makes sense to shorten it to Jupiter, Saturn or asteroids.

Offline R7

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Hey there, I was wondering, when are we most likely going to have spaceships like that of Futurama, or Starwars, or Star trek? ???

Breakthrough physics required and it is rather impossible to predict when (if ever) such breakthroughs happen. Time and again some pompous scientists/engineers have declared that now we know all there is to know and then shortly after something new was discovered. Fingers crossed the trend continues :)
AD·ASTRA·ASTRORVM·GRATIA

Offline Nilof

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I suggest taking a look at http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/appmissiontable.php for some numbers. These are round trip times in the first table.

As you can see, shortening from 2 months round trip to 12 days round trip increases the delta-v requirements by a factor of ~20x, for a ~5x reduction in trip time. Fighting orbital mechanics doesn't come cheap. If your Isp is in the 5000s range that's a 1.6 million-fold increase in mass ratio. ;D If you increase your Isp to the 50 000s range you're still increasing your mass ratio from ~1.11(11% of spacecraft mass is propellant) to ~9.2(820% of spacecraft mass is propellant), so the increase in actual fuel/energy use is massive.

All the numbers in that table assume that you are picking the optimal launch window near opposition, which happens roughly once every two years for Mars. I think that high delta-v ships will eventually exist, but their function will probably be more geared towards enabling travel outside of launch windows for emergencies than towards reducing trip times near opposition for regular travel.
« Last Edit: 05/05/2014 11:25 AM by Nilof »
For a variable Isp spacecraft running at constant power and constant acceleration, the mass ratio is linear in delta-v.   Δv = ve0(MR-1). Or equivalently: Δv = vef PMF. Also, this is energy-optimal for a fixed delta-v and mass ratio.

Offline KelvinZero

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Interplanetary travel within days is somewhat absurd.  Not particularly relativistic, but the marginal effort to decrease from months to days is massive, and there's no benefit other than the trip time.  Still, if we're allowing for a hyper-abundant future, it's not impossible. 
Not really. A fusion drive could easily allow a trip to Mars in one week. Although it does not make much sense to shorten it so much for Mars, it sure makes sense to shorten it to Jupiter, Saturn or asteroids.
That one week if possible would still only refer to launch windows every couple of years or so, so still nothing like the casual travel depicted in sci-fi.

I read a sci-fi recently where a character travelled out to a kuiper belt object, and they used pretty much the same sort of thing that is discussed for interstellar travel, some sort of project-orion like thing exploiting vast numbers of nuclear explosions. You could run cities for years on that energy. centuries! You could do it but what could justify it? Even the most far flung objects would only be a few hours away by email.

Jupiter's orbital period is about 12 years so I guess for some sort of cycler one leg of the trip would be about a quarter that: 3 years. It could be a town-sized university as well so if there were a constant stream of colonists they could get their degree on the way out.

Colonists to further objects probably simply won't come from earth but from other colonies. I actually find such a future more interesting anyway. Otherwise you are just repeating a period of around the turn of the century where the earth is becoming pretty small at least in our perception of it. The future will be large. There will still be places perhaps in the moons of gas giants or the asteroid belts where a person may potentially travel between several worlds in their lifetime.
« Last Edit: 05/05/2014 11:36 AM by KelvinZero »

Offline RonM

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Hey there, I was wondering, when are we most likely going to have spaceships like that of Futurama, or Starwars, or Star trek? ???

I really enjoy those shows, but they are more fiction than science. Their versions of space travel  is a plot device to get you from one exotic place to another. It's no more realistic than magic and dragons in fantasy stories.

Quote
I'm talking about a spaceship that can take off SSTO go inter planetary within a couple days, or hours?

First, someone needs to build a SSTO that can actually make it to orbit with a usable payload. That's going to be some tricky engineering. There won't be a capability left to leave LEO. Well, maybe if you refuel in orbit, but you have to get to orbit first.
 
Quote
I'm guessing obviously not anytime soon, probably either by the year 3000, or 2500-2600 ::)
feel free to comment
 I just want to Know if those kind of ships will ever become realistic

It would take a breakthrough in physics to come even close to sci-fi spaceships. That could happen tomorrow, 1000 years from now, or never. We may not be smart enough to figure it out or the universe doesn't allow that sort of thing.

Offline Astrosurf

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obviously with fusion  we could do something, but Im interested in the  idea of stasis, even if it may be very unrealistic, the only downside is that by the time you get back everyone you know is either dead or very old

what about a super orion drive that's powered by fusion bombs? how fast would something like that get us?

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Jim Woodward's and Sonny White's work might lead us to something close. Of course their work is highly controversial. My stance is that we need something like this, if we ever want to colonize other planets in the solar system. Elon Musk (and others here) believes that conventional engines can make it happen, but I have my doubts. We will need even more of a breakthrough (also within the scope of work of Sonny and Jim), if we want to go beyond our solar system(warp drives and wormholes).
I would not hold my breath, but there is at least some hope that it could work.

Offline cro-magnon gramps

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When my Grandfather was born, 1892, Hot Air Balloons and Dirigibles were the cats meow of flight... then 11 years later, Powered Flight took off, literally. 13 years later, as a young man, he witnessed the Bi-plane era beginning....
My Dad was born in 1918, near the end of the Bi-plane era, and at 21 was amazed to see single wing fighters over head at Dunkirk... of course they had black crosses on the wings and were trying to kill him... when he turned 26 the Jet Era had begun and we had conquered the Speed of Sound...
I was born in 1948, when Jets were the king of the air... air transport cost was dropping, as was the time to travel between A to B, or C... then when I turned 10 the Space age had begun... and at 21, we had landed couple of men on the Moon... Science Fiction, in my Grandfather's day...
When my son was born, 1983, the Space Shuttle was off the drawing board, and the ISS was a gleam in someone's eye, now as a young man he has witnessed the ISS commissioning, and the advances in Planetary Robotic Space Craft, and Exploration...
In 2003 my Grandson was born, and at the beginning of the New Space Age... what wonders he will witness in his life are still to unfold...
   I say this to point out, that in 111 years, of human "progress" we have come so far... and to suggest that we are limited is to belittle the ingenuity of our brains and the tech we have developed... more so the tech, is powered by our brains which is the creative force... orbital mechanics will eventually fall to straight line travel, (Impulse drive Mr Chekov) as did propeller driven aircraft to jets, and rockets.... when, is a WAG, but it will happen... Humanity's reach is only limited by the generation that came before... whether it is 2000 BC or 2000 AD... Give the kids the freedom to create and dream, anything is possible...
   my predictions:
        Impulse drive by the end of this century, and Star Drives by the end of the next... Galactic Drives when we need them... why? because I was born in the middle of an impossible century... one that perhaps shouldn't have happened, but did...
        Make it so, Grand Children...
"Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but it has not solved one yet." Maya Angelou
 Tony Benn: "Hope is the fuel of progress and fear is the prison in which you put yourself."

Offline the_other_Doug

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The problem with the logic process of "We went from the Wright Brothers to walking on the Moon in 66 years, so we should go from walking on the Moon to interstellar travel in only another 100 years at most" is that the basic underpinnings of powered flight existed in physics 150 years ago, it was only developing the engineering skills to take advantage of it that kept us from flying until 1903.  And the very rapid advances since then were all engineering advances (i.e., how to build things better, materials research, etc.).  No new physics needed to be discovered.

To have Star Wars-type vehicles, we need extremely new physics.  We need to invalidate current physics and replace it with physics that allow the science fictional types of propulsion and other technologies required for an Enterprise or a Millennium Falcon to be feasible.  After we discover such new physics (which may *never* happen), then we need to figure out how to use it from an engineering standpoint to make those kinds of technologies viable.

So, as was previously stated -- it could be 100 years, it could be 1,000 years, and it very well could be *never* that these kinds of technologies happen.  It may be that there is no "new physics" to be discovered, and those things that seem impossible right now truly are impossible.  I'll always hope, but I leaven that hope with a certain realism.

-Doug (with my shied, not yet upon it)
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline cordwainer

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The most technologically plausible and cost-effective way would be something like a Lofstrom or some other kind of launch loop technology wedded to a Skylon like craft for SSTO. After that you would grab some sort of Winglee like MagSail/MagBeam propulsion system for fast interplanetary travel. While most studies show Mini-Magnetopsheric  propulsion would require large sails to provide decent thrust one could develop something like a magnetoshell linear accelerator to launch vehicles at relatively high velocity. After that the weak sail could be used to accelerat/decelerate and change course very slowly or you could used something like Jordin Kare's SailBeam boosted MagSail concept for even higher acceleration. Both methods could use a smaller more dense M2P2 sail to produce greater efficiency than using solar wind alone. Such systems would be enormously costly but once built they would be cheaper to maintain than conventional rocket systems.

You could also go with Laser beam powered propulsion concepts like Jordin Kare's Heat Exchanger rocket. Such a system might allow you to fly to LEO, refuel and then proceed onto interplanetary destinations using the same vehicle and propulsion system. Such a system could use Solar Thermal propulsion to supplement acceleration in areas outside of a propulsion laser's beaming range. Such a system would require enormous quantities of fuel to produce "casual" interplanetary travel and the propulsion lasers would require much larger power densities than MagBeam accelerators but would be less complex. Of course you would have to accept the risk of riding atop a laser directed at a heat exchanger filled with highly volatile liquid hydrogen. If the heat exchangers containment fails it could have bad consequences. Of course the same could be said for SailBeam as well but getting holes punched into the magsail generator might not be as serious as getting hit by those same projectiles in the ships main fuselage. You just make the generator housing robust enough to act as a reaction plate in case the generator's power system fails and have lifeboats on hand. 

Offline cuddihy

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The problem with the logic process of "We went from the Wright Brothers to walking on the Moon in 66 years, so we should go from walking on the Moon to interstellar travel in only another 100 years at most" is that the basic underpinnings of powered flight existed in physics 150 years ago, it was only developing the engineering skills to take advantage of it that kept us from flying until 1903.  And the very rapid advances since then were all engineering advances (i.e., how to build things better, materials research, etc.).  No new physics needed to be discovered.
Fair points, but . . .
Quote
To have Star Wars-type vehicles, we need extremely new physics.  We need to invalidate current physics and replace it with physics that allow the science fictional types of propulsion and other technologies required for an Enterprise or a Millennium Falcon to be feasible.
This is not necessarily true. See the Mach effect / Woodward effect, which does not invalidate any existing or settled physics, just adds to current physics a theory of inertia & gravinertial tranduction. So far there's been no identified contradiction with settled physics except the 'thermodynamics- conservation of momentum' objection, which is actually a straw man based on the assumption that you are not allowed to draw a conditions box including the observable universe...
Quote
  After we discover such new physics (which may *never* happen), then we need to figure out how to use it from an engineering standpoint to make those kinds of technologies viable.

So, as was previously stated -- it could be 100 years, it could be 1,000 years, and it very well could be *never* that these kinds of technologies happen.  It may be that there is no "new physics" to be discovered, and those things that seem impossible right now truly are impossible.  I'll always hope, but I leaven that hope with a certain realism.

-Doug (with my shield, not yet upon it)
Fixed your tag line, Spartaaan.

Offline TomH

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This is one case where appeals to history just don't work, because they cannot change the laws of physics. We may discover some additional things about physics, but we are not going to change the laws of physics that exist. Fusion is not going to take us into hyper-drive or warp speed. The faster an object goes, the greater its mass increases, therefore the more energy required to increase its velocity. It's a snowball effect like you cannot imagine. As velocity approaches c (light speed) mass increases on an immense logarithmic scale. Following the inflationary period, it became impossible for v of any mass to exceed c. Maybe someday we will understand how the period of inflation worked, but even if we do, it is infinitely doubtful that we could recreate the conditions that existed between the moment of the Big Bang and the end of inflation. We surely will not change the existing laws of physics within our own universe and return to the laws which existed during inflation.

As far as advanced concepts, warp drive is actually possible. There's just one problem. The amount of energy it takes to warp space-time significantly is immense. A small warp drive that could power a small warp ship for a couple of seconds would require as much energy as our sun has and will put out in its entire 10 billion year lifespan. I have to tell ya, nobody ain't never gonna (a triple negative is the same as a regular negative) build an anti-matter containment field that big. Wormholes, Slip Stream Drive...theoretically possible. Creating or opening them...makes building fusion reactors look as easy as dropping a log on a fire to release some heat. This stuff is infinitely more complex than the aerodynamics of a balloon or a Wright Flyer. We may make some gains as we understand how the Higgs boson gives mass to other sub-atomic particles that have no mass without the Higgs. Some space farer may learn some amazing things someday when he flies into a black hole. Thing is, no matter where he goes, he won't be coming back to tell us what he learned. Hawking says (in essence) that knowledge is not destroyed in a black hole for this reason. In an infinite multiverse, there logically has to be another universe that is identical to ours with the one exception that knowledge in it is not destroyed in black holes like it is in our own. Thus the knowledge lost in black holes in our universe is preserved in some other universe of the multiverse. (Get it?) So the knowledge may be saved elsewhere, but not here!!!

Lesson to take from Wright Brothers: Bernoulli's Principle is nothing compared with Quantum Mechanics and Cosmological Physics. Us solving this stuff is like a cow figuring out how to build a miniaturized fusion bomb.

Offline KelvinZero

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   I say this to point out, that in 111 years, of human "progress" we have come so far... and to suggest that we are limited is to belittle the ingenuity of our brains and the tech we have developed... more so the tech, is powered by our brains which is the creative force... orbital mechanics will eventually fall to straight line travel, (Impulse drive Mr Chekov) as did propeller driven aircraft to jets, and rockets.... when, is a WAG, but it will happen... Humanity's reach is only limited by the generation that came before... whether it is 2000 BC or 2000 AD... Give the kids the freedom to create and dream, anything is possible...
   my predictions:
        Impulse drive by the end of this century, and Star Drives by the end of the next... Galactic Drives when we need them... why? because I was born in the middle of an impossible century... one that perhaps shouldn't have happened, but did...
        Make it so, Grand Children...

IMO the future we will have will actually be more interesting than star trek. There are about six hundred worlds in the asteroid belt with diameter greater than 50km (thats about 3000 times the volume of manhattan each, taken by multiplying square area times tallest building) and about 100,000 in the outer solar system.

Maybe some will be Oneill-like. I personally expect most of humanity will forget why it once considered the ability to stand on the 25% of one planet that was not ocean was ever so important and most of these worlds will be in zero gravity. Internal volumes could be as alien and beautiful as the floating mountains of Pandora.

I think creating new or old species will become an art just like the CG creatures we create today. If we can't genetically engineer them we may just use the techniques appearing now to 3d-print organs to print whatever shape bone and musculature we like.

I have a big gripe with much popular sci-fi on tv that stops people thinking about how strange the likely technologies will make the future. Sure these other things may come along too, but AI and self reproducing machines are almost certain, and far more significant than a propulsion that reduces the solar system to just another location you can travel around in a tourist bus.

(correcting myself though: As I think cordwainer suggests there may be alternatives to expending vast amounts of energy, there may be a way to just reuse it again and again)
« Last Edit: 05/06/2014 03:23 AM by KelvinZero »

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Lesson to take from Wright Brothers: Bernoulli's Principle is nothing compared with Quantum Mechanics and Cosmological Physics. Us solving this stuff is like a cow figuring out how to build a miniaturized fusion bomb.
In this context, I have been wondering about the ability of us enhancing humans genetically to be smart enough to solve these questions. The Chinese have a large project to crack the genetic code of intelligence. Alternatively, we could use computers to do the same, if we can make them smart enough.

Offline scienceguy

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What about using a VASIMR engine, but getting the propellant from the interstellar medium a la Bussard ramjet?
« Last Edit: 05/06/2014 03:46 AM by scienceguy »
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Online Lar

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I don't see how this topic isn't just a big omnibus with seats for every single neat SF idea related to travel. We just had one of these under "personal spacecraft" too.

You can try to convince me differently via PM.  Locked.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

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