Universe Today Podcast

Episode 629: Should We Fly to Another Star Soon? Or Wait for Better Technology to Come Along?

February 21st, 2020  •  10 mins 1 sec  •  Download (9.18 MB)  •  Link with Timestamp

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It’s hard to really wrap your mind around the vast distances between stars. The fastest spacecraft ever launched into an interstellar trajectory right now is Voyager 1. If it was directed at the nearest star, it would take tens of thousands of years to make the journey across the interstellar gulf.

Even so, groups like Breakthrough Starshot and Icarus Interstellar are working on plans right now to try and send spacecraft to other stars, ideally within our lifetimes.

But we can see how quickly technology is advancing all around us, from materials science to high energy physics, not to mention reusable rockets.

It seems reasonable to ask, should we invest in an interstellar mission now, or wait a few decades or even centuries for better technology to come along which could make the trip much shorter?