Interstellar X-Prize

My man Paul Gilster of Centauri Dreams posts about Peter Diamandis who proposes an Interstellar X-Prize to help kick-start possible technologies applicable for a flyby of Alpha Centauri:

A future X Prize, Diamandis opines, might be focused on a colonizing mission to Mars. Or it might involve transforming energy into matter (here he recalls Star Trek’s transporters). Maybe we can take the prize notion to outrageous limits and suggest an interstellar component. Heck, we’ll even offer a head-start. In a recent post on his systemic site, exoplanet hunter Greg Laughlin offered an interesting comment on Alpha Centauri, one worth keeping in mind for would be prize designers:

We’re fortunate that we’ve arrived on the scene as a technological society right at the moment when a stellar system as interesting as Alpha Cen is in the very near vicinity. During the last interglacial period, Alpha Cen did not rank among the brightest stars in the sky. A hundred thousand years from now, the Alpha Cen stars will no longer be among our very nearest stellar neighbors, and in a million years, they will have long since faded from naked-eye visibility. At the moment, though, Alpha Centauri is drawing nearer at 25 km/sec, a clip similar to the Earth’s orbital velocity around the Sun. It’s as if we’re on the free trial period of an interstellar mission…

A free trial period is usually enough to quicken the pulse of consumers. So why not use it to tantalize potential prize donors with the prospect of a truly long-term, outlandishly expensive prize, one designed to spur efforts to put a man-made payload with the capability of returning scientific data into the Centauri system? The data returned could well prove less significant than the breakthroughs achieved to make the journey.

How about a prize of a couple of billion bucks? Gold of course. I could picture someone like Branson, Musk or even Google again putting up a prize.

It has to be something large like that to make it worth someone’s time, research for technologies alone needed for interstellar unmanned flyby would cost as much as Bu$hco’s return to the Moon and Mars charade.

Maybe private industry can bring the cost down and there would be several spin-offs ( advanced nanotech, quantum computing, real AI ), but in the end, the prize has to entice.

I propose a Buckyball nanotech package shot out of a linear accelerator from the Moon, or Phobos toward the Sun in a “sundiver/fry” manuever for a serious gravity assist. Once that was done, nanobots can deploy, or “spin” like a spider a light-sail/web a couple of hundred square miles in area to catch a laserbeam from the Moon or Phobos again as it passes by.

It should get 0.3c easily.

Forty years to Alpha Centauri? No problem.

Centauri Flyby: The Ultimate X Prize?


4 responses

  1. Of course in the end, the way we eventually get to Alpha Centauri, or any star for that matter will be totally different from what musings we propose nowadays.

    When Verne and Wells were writing their fiction, their interplanetary vessels were reinforced artillery shells shot out of immense cannons because that technology was preeminent between the end of the American Civil War and the beginning of WWI. Rocketry was primitive at best during that period.

    Rockets for interplanetary flight weren’t seriously discussed until Tsiolkovsky and Bernal proposed the theory during the late 19th, early 20th Centuries.

    Which influenced Robert Goddard’s experiments, and in turn influenced the Nazi Von Braun.

    The rest is history.

  2. The X Prize should begin to stimulate projects like Gravity Control, because it’s important! NASA’s lies must be revealed soon! This OIL DEFENDING agency with it’s pointless space program must come to an end! And it’s not only NASA. ESA, JAXA, ROSKOSMOS and others are all a big network of liers 😡

    I strongly believe that on Mars exist inteligent life. And I also belive that there is oxygen and atmosphere like our own. Blue sky, plants, water, anything what’s needed for supporting life.

  3. Good point Lubo, NASA and the others have always been tied to their respective militaries and the monsterous military-industrial complex.

    The oil industries and their puppet governments for over 100 years have used fossil fuels as a means of controlling societies. They knew if the technologies that Tesla, Carr, Hutchinson and others invented were ever developed, the control they have enjoyed for so long would be lost to them.

    Maybe we are approaching a cusp in history and things will change, for better or worse.

    And that is the only certain thing, change.

    1. Weeeee, what a quick and easy sotiouln.

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