Start Your Engines

September 21, 2012

Rheanna Sand


Now THIS is the stuff that makes me excited to be a human being in the 21st century... new ways of getting from point A to point B, really frickin' fast.

The internet is abuzz with a recent assertion by Harold "Sonny" White of NASA's Johnson Space Center that warp drive may be achievable in our lifetime. Tweaks to the original 1994 design by Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre mean that instead of requiring an amount of mass-energy equivalent to the size of Jupiter, jumping to speeds 10 times the speed of light could be achieved with the mass-energy equivalent of the Voyager probe. More on the design of the warp-capable craft can be found in this article, and the video below does a good job of explaining the general concept of warp speed:



Scaling down from the interstellar to near-Earth orbit range, a company called Reaction Engines has designed what they call the SABRE Engine, which they propose could enable jets to easily travel at Mach 5 for extended periods. This means they could travel to and from the space station, or shuttle people around the world within hours. Again, another video to explain the concept:



Finally, "rocket man" Elon Musk apparently has big plans for the human race. Co-founder of Paypal and Telsa Motors, Musk is also known for creating the SpaceX project, which recently built the reuseable Dragon module to ship goods to and from the Space Station. He isn't stopping there, though - he is working on getting a private spacecraft to Mars in the next 10 to 15 years, building a new transit concept called the Hyperloop, and plans to build vertical take off jets that will revolutionize global air transport.


All awesome ideas... after all, while we sit on our hands regarding our changing climate and deteriorating environment, finding ways to get off this planet probably isn't a bad plan.



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