One Way Interstellar Space Crews

Would you go on an one way interstellar trip to Alpha Centauri? ( Or Proxima if planets were found there? )

The question was put out to the public about one way trips to Mars recently, but interstellar travel is an entirely different animal due to the infinitely longer distances and travel times involved.

But according to Paul Gilster on the Centauri Dreams web site, filling a crew roster might not be a problem:

If you were offered a chance to make an interstellar journey, would you take it? How about a garden-variety trip to low-Earth orbit? I’m often asked questions like this when I make presentations to the public, and I have no hesitation in saying no. Though I’m no longer doing any flight instructing, I used to love flying airplanes, but getting into a rocket and being propelled anywhere is not for me. To each his own: I’m fascinated with deep space and hope many humans go there, and you can count on me to write about their missions and robotic ones as well while keeping my office right here on Earth.

The point is, the percentage of people who actually go out and take the incredible journeys and fly the dangerous missions is vanishingly low. But throughout history, there have always been a few intrepid souls who were willing to get into the canoes or the caravels or the biplanes and open up new territories and technologies. Thank God we have the Neil Armstrongs and Sergei Krikalyovs of this world. And somewhere in England there are the relatives of some young 18th Century adventurer who signed up as a cabin boy and wound up living out his life in Australia. People like this drive the species forward and put into action the yearning for exploration I suspect we all share.

I’ve told this story before, but in the past few weeks a high percentage of the people coming to this site are coming for the first time, so I’ll tell it again. Robert Forward was the scientist who more than any other argued that we study methods for reaching the stars, saying that it could be done without violating the laws of physics and would therefore one day occur. Forward’s son Bob told me what happened one night at dinner when he asked his father whether he would get on a starship if it landed nearby and he was asked to go out and explore the universe, with the proviso that he could never come back. Forward’s response was instantaneous: “Of course!”

To which his wife Martha could only reply: “What about us? You mean you would just leave your family and disappear into the universe?” That made Forward pensive for only a moment as he replied, “You have to understand. This is what I have dreamed about all my life.”

To be fair, if an Earth-type world was ever found at Alpha Centauri, the chances of ever traveling there would be extremely low. It’s just plain cheaper to build super-telescopes to zoom in and literally “scope-out” any kind of life forms and biospheres there. No environmental issues, no contamination and no astronauts need apply.

The only way a planet at Alpha Centauri will be touched by human beings is like in James Cameron’s ‘Avatar.’ An “unobtainium” element with extraordinary abilities would have to be found that would make the time, effort and investments cost-effective to exploit.

As in Solar System exploitation, the reasons to explore extra-solar worlds would have to involve a strong economic element. Even personal freedoms comes in at a distant second.

Deck Hands for a Four Decade Journey

3 responses

  1. I’d sooner stake my claim on an Earth made new, that is, free of elitists and their dumb-downed slaves that only get in the way of my ongoing pursuit of an early retirement. Oh… guess what? There IS going to be an earth made new! I guess I’m lucky after all! Not much has changed, eh, Marine? 😆

    How are ya? Long time, no see. It’s almost time to see if 2012 is going to be the year I’ve been prophesying it’s going to be. But, seriously, if indeed there were no other recourse, I’d opt for a no-return space voyage. If this were the only outcome for history, imagine what an Earth ruled by elitists would be like. No, traveling or even dying in space or on another world would likely be preferable to the living hell that this planet would be under the new world order oligarchy… though I likely wouldn’t survive the FEMA-sponsored ‘Holiday Inn’ apartment I’d receive for actions unbecoming a NWO serf/slave.

    Anyway, maybe see you again, later, around the block!

  2. HW you ol’ criminal, how are ya? I’m semi-retired now, taking care of the wife at home and all since she’s on the mend now. Yeah, I still like science stuff and this 2012 stuff remains to be seen yet. But I’ll go on a one way trip to AC if given a chance!

  3. Oh, you know me… I’m rolling right along!

    How about you and that damned weather you’re having? Hope you didn’t get too much of that hurricane. Sounded like it hit pretty close to home, for you.

    Since I haven’t considered Earth ‘home’ for about 30 years, now, I could easily ‘relocate’ on some interstellar junket… and believe I will, hopefully, soon. Either way, what difference does it make? Main thing is, there won’t be any HAARP enthusiasts or elitists along for the ride! (Yeah, I believe some of that is involved! )

    Enjoy your “semi” retirement, 😉 there, Daddy-O. Salutations to the wife and the rest of the 2059-er’s!

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