Limitless Space Institute for Interstellar Travel by 2100

Limitless Space Institute is sponsoring student programs and giving away about $2 million every two years in grants for work towards enabling interstellar travel. They gave out nine grants. Limitless Space Institute is working with the Breakthrough Institute.

Limitless Space Institute is led by Sonny White. Sonny White and his team is also working on internal space propulsion projects. They have a partnership with DARPA and Texas A&M. They are looking at Casimir cavities. They are looking at a dynamic vacuum model where they look at atomic orbitals modeled as acoustic waves.

They are looking at using nanostructures to amplify casimir effects.

They provided more funds for Lubin’s laser array propulsion and many nuclear fusion propulsion concepts, advanced solar sail and two space drive proposals and a wormhole proposal.

SOURCES- SSI, Limitless Space Institute
Written by Brian Wang,

20 thoughts on “Limitless Space Institute for Interstellar Travel by 2100”

  1. Got the song and story title mixed up, thought they were both the same. You're right, Far Centaurus.

  2. You are saying "There's a song, too, 'Space is Dark"", not a story "Space is Dark" and a song too.

  3. His song is from 78, long after I first heard the story orally. Title too simple to find story easily. edit: just a song, not such a story.

  4. I'm not familiar with "Space is Dark", that Brett mentions, but the story I know is "Far Centaurus" by A. E. van Vogt, published in 1944.

  5. "Space is Dark"; There's a song, too. They take about a thousand years to reach the next star while in suspended animation, only to be greeted by the descendants of the people who arrived first, because FTL travel was invented a few years after they left.

    It's likely that the first manned interstellar trip won't leave, until it can leave fast enough that it's unlikely to be lapped. Because nobody wants to leave first and arrive second. But that won't require FTL, just waiting until you can launch at maybe 10% of lightspeed.

    I'm still hoping we'll find quark matter nuggets inside some of the asteroids. With that you can do complete conversion of mass to energy, at least until the nugget is used up.

  6. All we are doing when we send a starship to another star is sending information to that other star. Why not cut out the middleman and just send the information. A complex package of light that can convert any icy surface into a mechanism. Of course some would say that is impossible. Then I would say is an "IC" impossible.

  7. Least implausible nuclear powered rocket I've seen is nuclear salt-water rocket. Basically an aqueous solution you inject it into a chamber with a geometry that allows it to go critical. Can make it smaller than orion.

    At 90% enrichment in a 20% solution in water you can get a Ve of 4725 km/s according to one white paper. I would guess that's not very conservative but more of an upper bound that has significant engineering challenges.

    There's not really an upper limit to how much delta V you can get theoretically but you get linear improvement for exponental increase in fuel expenditure so it quickly becomes impractical at more than a few % light speed.

    As an example with a 100 ton payload and 4725 km/s exhaust velocity, this is the required amounts of 90% enriched HEU in metric tonnes; a naive back-of-the-envelop rocket equation that does not take into account staging or ablation:
    1% c 5,3E+01 MT
    2% c 1,5E+02
    3% c 3,4E+02 ~ all uranium mined in a year converted to 90% HEU
    4% c 7,0E+02
    5% c 1,4E+03
    6% c 2,6E+03
    7% c 5,0E+03
    8% c 9,6E+03 ~ all conventional uranium reserves as 90% HEU
    9% c 1,8E+04
    10% c 3,4E+04
    11% c 6,5E+04
    12% c 1,2E+05
    13% c 2,3E+05
    14% c 4,3E+05
    15% c 8,2E+05
    16% c 1,5E+06
    17% c 2,9E+06
    18% c 5,5E+06
    19% c 1,0E+07
    20% c 2,0E+07
    21% c 3,7E+07 ~ all uranium available available in worlds oceans at ~10x current price

  8. There is a story about that exact thing, 60s or before, but I just heard someone tell it, did not read. Tyson's version of Cosmos ended with large ships getting ready to go interstellar the *slow* way we can imagine, and he asked why not just stay here and live in them, rather than thinking of them as vehicles. A good question!

  9. It never makes sense to send a ship to another star if the journey takes more than 5 years. Even at light speed, you're not going to do much. If it takes 100 years to reach another star, there is that likelihood that someone invents a breakthrough plan to get there in a year or less. By that time there will be cities on the planet they were trying to reach.
    There are so many resources in our own solar system that it diminishes the return on reaching another star. Until we have warp drive, hyperspace, or similar, we should focus on our own zone.

  10. Why bother slowing down? Hit any potential planet at a percentage of light speed, and use mass spectrometry back on Earth to examine the wreckage. This way the probe wouldn't waste any mass with sensors.

  11. AND you could launch both before you have the deceleration system design fully worked out, transmitting that to them to build en route…

  12. Maybe the magnetic braking could also be used to collect interstellar hydrogen while slowing down the ship. It could be used by an onboard fusion drive to maneuver the starship around the target star when they arrive.

  13. If you are confident the thing will work, you can cut the lead time somewhat by launching the ship that will use it to decelerate so it will arrive at the destination only a short time after you expect the deceleration device to have arrived and set itself up.

    A little gutsy, to be sure …

  14. 4.2 light years to proxima centauri. 5% lightspeed cruising, plus a little more for accelerating/breaking means like 90 years to get your equipment in place, not including the mandatory 20+ years to design and build the thing. So just like a century to get ready, and then we can use the beamed propulsion to shave a few decades off all future trips.

  15. "Maybe magnetic breaking against stellar winds?"
    Also against the interstellar medium. If you are going fast enough for interstellar travel in less than millennia, you need to start your braking well outside the heliopause.

  16. Project orion drives to put the beamed propulsion at your destination first is one way I suppose

  17. Orion drives are supposed to be capable of several percent of the speed of light. I think about 5% is tops for nuclear fusion/fission using onboard fuel. 

    Beamed propulsion approaches can push a payload up to better than half the speed of light, but then you have to ask, how do you slow it down again? Maybe magnetic breaking against stellar winds?

  18. Not taking into account wormholes or other totally theoretical means, what the fastest speed scientists think they will be able to travel through space and by what means of travel?

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