The First Starships

Of the various technologies reviewed in Chapter 6, light sailing seems to be the best current choice of systems to propel humanity's first starships. Ramjets are infeasible, antimatter is difficult to store and too expensive, and the socio-political problems inherent in nuclear-pulse propelled spacecraft may be insurmountable. Only the light sail remains.

As discussed by Ben Finney and Eric Jones, there are two basic approaches to interstellar expansion via light sail. In keeping with previous terrestrial folk migrations, humans might launch a series of relatively slow but comparatively inexpensive solar-sail starships, which might be called "slow boats" or "nomads." If large-scale and stable government funding is available, we might instead select to travel in more expensive but speedier "fast ships" propelled by the radiation pressure of a solar-powered laser, beaming energy from the inner solar system to the distant starship.

At intervals of 100,000 years or so, random stellar motions bring stars closer to the Sun than the 4.3 light-years separating us and the Alpha Centauri system. It is also possible that a subluminous star closer to us than the Centauri suns will be discovered. In the discussion that follows, however, it will be assumed that the destination for our first robotic and peopled starships will be Alpha Centauri.

Solar Panel Basics

Solar Panel Basics

Global warming is a huge problem which will significantly affect every country in the world. Many people all over the world are trying to do whatever they can to help combat the effects of global warming. One of the ways that people can fight global warming is to reduce their dependence on non-renewable energy sources like oil and petroleum based products.

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