Technology needed to send humans to the nearest star


It’s nearly that time of year again, when the dreamers, futurists, forward thinkers and sci-fi buffs — OK, let’s call them what they are, geeks like me — descend upon Houston.

And why will there be this conclave of geekdom in September? Because they want to send humans to the nearest star. This is no small feat considering the nearest star is about 25 trillion miles away.

With the fastest spacecraft humans have ever built it would still take about 28,000 years to get there. We’re going to need better rockets, I think.

Anyway a group led by former astronaut Mae Jemison, known as the 100-Year Starship Program, is working to identify the technologies needed for such an audacious journey.

For example, could a human society exist for multiple generations on a confined spacecraft traveling through space, or would cryogenics need to be perfected before a long-term journey?

The idea of interstellar human travel has gained further credence during the last decade because, for the first time in human history, scientists have begun to find Earth-sized planets around other stars.

It is one thing, of course, to glimpse shadows of these planets on their stars. It is quite another to fly humans to them. But I wish my fellow geeks well.

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