1.00E+03 1.00E+04 1.00E+05 1.00E+06 1.00E+07 1.00E+08 1.00E+09 Total Travel Time (minutes)

Figure 1.6. One-way distance and travel time in Earth time.

systems of Dr Gorshkov, the nearest star falls at the 250 year travel time. The 7 nearest stars to our Solar System are within 10 light-years. That is another order of magnitude greater travel time. In terms of reaching the nearest galaxy, Andromeda, the time is 22 million Earth years. So, for the present we cannot even reach our nearby stars' neighborhoods, much less the nearest galaxy. We are confined to our Solar System, and in the future we may be able to reach only our nearest neighbor star. Unless travel at greater that the speed of light is possible, we are as isolated as a culture in a petri dish. Note, however, that these time are for Earth-based observers, not for the crew of the spacecraft. Relativistic speeds create a sharp difference between these two times; see Chapter 9.


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