A Problem with Space Travel

As the distance a spaceship travels through space increases, so do the odds that it will collide with debris in its path – such as interstellar dust, micrometeorites, asteroids, dark matter, dark stars, etc.

If you are traveling at super high-speed, through uncharted territory, there is no way to know what is out there.

Even if it is charted territory, debris is always flying through – sometimes at incredibly high speeds. Especially when you near solar systems, or in denser areas.

It should be possible to say that after a certain distance the odds are 100% that a spaceship will experience a fatal collision.

As a result, only short range space travel is probably safe enough to be feasible unless some kind of shield technology is invented that can withstand the  blasts that result from collisions with even tiny things at such high

My guess is that if advanced interstellar civilizations exist, they do not travel linearly through space because it is just too dangerous. They must have a way to “tunnel” – either by using or creating wormholes, or some other means of teleportation, or hyperdimensional travel.

In speaking about this, my friend Josh, suggested the following:

Yeah- and here’s another aspect to that problem.

Assume you are using a near light speed drive to go from star to star.

Any detection system you are using (radar, etc) will only extend slightly in front of the ship- because it is only moving slightly faster than you are- and the faster you go, the less
time you have to detect and deal with obstacles or objects.

If you are moving slowly- perhaps a generation ship or a “frozen cargo” scenario- you could use radar connected to an autopilot- but you still need something to protect you from micrometeorites and interstellar dust- maybe a big electrostatic shield extending far in front of the ship that will attract and deflect such objects (most meteroids are ferromagnetic, so they respond well to electromagnetic fields…)

You really need a rapid response detection system…

Social tagging: > > >

5 Responses to A Problem with Space Travel

  1. jiqiwa says:

    before car was invented, people must have wondered similiar things when they imaged a super fast vehicle: how will it deal with other super fast vehicles, roaming horses, slow-moving carriages? well, we invented highways.
    I think space travel will be the same, if you are in an uncharted territory, you have to be careful, slow, if you are on space high ways, the traffic control system will take care of you — probably using some kind of “travelling space reserve system”, like the semaphore I just coded.

  2. One solution would be to develop “drift maps” which plot and predict the trajectory of objects in space. These could be built using whatever contemporary, extra-solar detection technology exists at the time. It would be alot like weather and cloud predictions in aviation. The more charted regions of space would obviously be the safest to travel, while the “darker” regions might prohibit safe near-light speed travel.

  3. daniel moore says:

    you could use a wide laser beam to detect for any obstructions in the beam. therefore, by working out where abouts the obstruction is you should be able to calculate the size, place and path of the object, providing the beam is wider than the craft and parallel. but, this would only be accurate depending on the speed you are travelling.

  4. Martin says:

    Has anyone ever thought about “magnetic” propulsion?
    If two magnets of oposite polarity push eachother away, isn’t there a way to electronically enhance and activate two magnets to “push off” and create a propulsion system?
    No noise, no exhaust, no polution! Sound familiar?

  5. andrew connolly gilchrist says:

    the best idea here is the magntic propulsion, the problem is though what about the other obstacles in space. gas clouds, what if there was a meteorite storm,you would need some kind of sheild radar system that can detect whats happening further in space and you again whould have to be able to react in time