To boldly go where no man has gone before

A few years back I had the opportunity to listen to a presentation by the project manager for the second Mars rover missions launched in 2004, Prof. G. Scott Hubbard. It was an inspiring speech about an impressive engineering achievement; one of the rovers is still operational after more than eight years in an extreme environment. (Unfortunately I had to pinch myself from time to time to stay awake during the speech. It was at 8 PM after a dinner and I was suffering from a nine hour jetlag.) The only thing I was a bit disappointed about (except my own attention deficit) was the vision for the missions: “follow the water”. I thought it was a bit lame. I would have hoped for something like “a permanent settlement on Mars in 2040”.

I was therefore very happy when my son pointed me to a truly visionary Nasa lab, the Eagleworks Laboratories. Their mission is to:

“Pursue propulsion technologies necessary to enable human exploration of the solar system over the next 50 years, and enabling interstellar spaceflight by the end of the century.” [1]

Yes, it says “interstellar”. Two propulsion technologies worked on are the Quantum Vacuum Plasma Thruster and the Warp Drive [2], designations one would rather expect to find in a Peter F Hamilton book than in a serious science lab. The Warp Drive is envisioned to reach “FTL” (which is an abreviation out of a Peter F Hamilton book) by manipulating the space-time in front of and behind the drive, presumably thereby making the journey shorter.

I would like to extend my gratitude to NASA and the Eagleworks Labs for boosting my belief in humanity and its unlimited possibilities. As it says in the Brand New Heavies song:

You are the universe
And there ain’t nothin’ you can’t do
If you conceive it, you can achieve it

Set the throttle at warp 10 – next stop Alpha Centauri!

Links

[1] Eagleworks Laboratories: Advanced Propulsion Physics Research.

[2] The Warp Drive Could Become Science Fact.

[3] Warp Field Mechanics 101.

[4] You Are the Universe, Brand New Heavies. (Spotify link)

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