Space travel is one of the most important technologies we’re working on. Since we realized we could travel to other planets, we’ve been working on a way to do it, and in a few years it might finally happen. With the team preparing to go to Mars next decade, scientists have been working on ways to help them get there faster. They might finally come up with a way to do that in the form of laser propulsion to take humans to Mars in one month.
Despite most interstellar journeys being as long as to be measured in light years, we’re still struggling to get space crafts to move faster than three percent of that. This is really a tough situation, as the biggest impediment that stands between us and space exploration is travel time.
So of course, scientists have been working on devising faster ways of interstellar travel, and we might have a few options. After a couple of years ago we’ve heard about a Futurama-like travel method, which works by moving the space around the spacecraft instead of the space craft actually moving, scientists have come up with at least two better ways of space transportation while that one is still being investigated.
The first one is the hardest to achieve because of limited resources and large amount of space it would occupy. Instead of relying on the extremely heavy rocket fuel to propel the rocket, this technique would instead require thousands of tons of equipment in the form of basically the rings from the large hadron collider.
It might be difficult to set up and extremely expensive to build, but the technique would certainly be among the quickest, as it is only limited by the speed of light. A recent experiment called “the impossible EM Drive” actually succeeded this once, but NASA still considers it an experimental anomaly.
This method, on the other hand, is a bit slower, but it is definitely much more applicable. According to NASA scientist Philip Lubin, there is no reason why this technique shouldn’t work. What it does is basically to propel the space craft through space by using lasers.
By equipping the space craft with a very large and reflective sail, photons could be fired in the form of lasers at the sail, giving it a little bit of extra momentum with every particle of light that hits it. This would be an extremely efficient mode of transportation, able to take humans to Mars in a space craft in a fifth of the time we currently get there – in one month, humans would be on Mars – and to take a 100 kg robot there in just three days.
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