(This article is in submission for the X Prize)
The purpose of this article is to re-focus the US space program entirely on human space exploration in the Department of Defense (DoD) and in the burgeoning private space industry and for Transformations to form a consortium of global corporations including BlueOrigin, Space X, Virgin Galactic, Boeing and General Electric with support from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and DoD.
The objective of the human space voyages would be to deploy known technologies to leverage extra-solar planetary resources in situ for interstellar migration, an idea first revealed completely by Sir Arthur C Clarke in A Space Odyssey 2010, the sequel to A Space Odyssey 2001 where the idea is first introduced.
While Clarke’s black monolith is a fictitious technical multi-use alien object – a repository of knowledge to transport closer to light speed, speciate (technical evolution of species to higher forms of intelligence) and terraform, I argue here that such an advanced technology is not necessary at this time to begin the work of experimenting with interstellar human migration.
Ben Finney, University of Hawai’i at Manoa anthropologist and a mentor of mine from many years ago, and Economic historian Eric Jones edited a book called Interstellar Migration and the Human Experience in 1986 about interstellar migration.
The book is largely predicated on mapping Finney’s scholarship, on Polynesia and Hawai’i about the migration of Asiatic peoples to islands in the vast uncharted Pacific Ocean on wooden hull boats before a compass was invented, to the possibility of interstellar migration.
The now-retired space shuttle’s orbital velocity is about 5 miles/sec (the alternative concept is the hyperplane or the National Aerospace Plane (NASP) for take-off, instead of launch, to the boundary between earth’s atmosphere and space). Light travels at 186,000 miles/sec.
On the face of it, though it may seem unsurmountable to accelerate the shuttle to a speed 18,600 times its current orbital velocity or 1/2 the speed of light, once outside the bounds of earth’s gravity it is feasible to do so by a series of impulse-boosts in open outer-space and leave the craft gliding effortlessly, by Newton’s Third Law of Motion (note that photons of light and packets of the electromagnetic spectrum leave a star at light speed and remain at that speed unless absorbed), on course to Gliese 581 g.
Propulsion technology approach:
1. Maximum scramjet boost while accessing the earth’s atmosphere, grazing it at the boundary of space to absorb air – accelerating with each earth or earth-moon orbit – similar to shot put/discus/hammer throws in the Olympic games.
All heat from the craft’s surface because of acceleration to cruise speed in the earth’s (or at any outer-planetary atmospheres) can be rapidly lost to outer-space in accordance with the zeroth law of thermodynamics.
2. Exit the earth-moon system.
(3. Be prepared to take advantage of outer planet atmospheres in the solar system as necessary similarly to leave the solar system at 1/2 the speed of light.)
4. Carry on-board shuttle thruster fuel for adjustment of coordinates as programmed for the on-board controls/communications system.
Suggested topology of our craft HIM 001 (tail number Human Interstellar Migration 001 symbolized by Buzz Aldrin’s photograph Earthrise and our corporate logo CE at the bottom of this proposal):
Initially, NASA X-43 A topology to minimize drag in the thick of the earth’s atmosphere is acceptable, but once at earth-space boundary the topology of HIM 001 develops/opens into a disc with multiple retractable scramjet engines to maximize atmospheric intake and acceleration by scramjet thrust. Backup shuttle fuel thrusters are also retractable and only engage in outer-space as necessary.