NASA has a huge plan for this century, and will make big steps in the search for alien life. The main idea is to develop a spacecraft which can travel at 10 percent of the speed of light, which would travel to Alpha Centauri, explore the star system, and look for possible signs of life. This will mark the 100th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, as the journey is set to start in 2069.
NASA wants to explore Alpha Centauri
This is probably the most ambitious project ever pulled out by NASA. It doesn’t have a name, and all the technology necessary to build the spacecraft hasn’t been invented yet. In fact, this mission has been presented as a concept during this year’s American Geophysical Union by Anthony Freeman from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
As it’s easy to understand, the mission is not really easy. Fortunately, there’s plenty of time until 2069, and NASA will probably find the means to develop the necessary technology by then. The Alpha Centauri mission will be broken down in six phases. At first, the spacecraft will accelerate and reach out of our Solar System.
The agency needs a lot of sophisticated technology which hasn’t been invented yet
Then, it will go on a cruise until it reaches Proxima Centauri, the system’s closest star, and will reduce the speed to be able to get close to it. Afterwards, the spacecraft will adjust its trajectory accordingly, so that it will be able to approach the star. The next step is the acquisition of information, and then the trip back home.
The purpose of the mission is to collect whatever information was not already available from Earth. A trip to Alpha Centauri would take 40 years, even if it the closest star system to our own. Also, this will be the first interstellar expedition.
NASA has explored the technology necessary to reach the destination, and discovered that they need a new spacecraft, faster than anything that was ever built. The shuttle that currently holds the title of the fastest spacecraft, the Helios probes, would take 18,000 years to reach Alpha Centauri.
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