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Will We Ever Visit Other Stars?

by Kenny Hoeschen

This video from Michael Stevens at Vsauce explores whether humans will ever have the ability to travel to other stars. Stevens begins suggesting we download the Hayden Planetarium’s Digital Universe to see just how far our closest neighboring stars are from Earth. Voyager 1 is traveling at about 38,000 mph and the fastest manmade object, the Helios 2 solar probe, reached 157,000 mph. Even at that speed, reaching our nearest neighboring star, Proxima Centauri, which is about 4.24 light years from Earth, would take 19,000 years.

Of course, we’ll develop the ability to travel faster in the future. Plus, wormholes and Alcubierre drives may, theoretically, allow us to travel across the universe faster than we could travel directly. Stevens also discusses the “wait calculation” which is the timing considerations required so that we don’t launch a spacecraft that ends up being “lapped” in the future before it reaches its destination. We must also solve the problems associated with deep space travel, including radiation and life support systems.

Stevens then looks at the chances of humans surviving long enough, given the chances of a large meteor impact. The 2008 Joint Propulsion Conference concluded it was “improbable” that humans would ever explore beyond our solar system.

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