I came across these over the past pre days and thought they were interesting.
I thought that this was an interesting article about alternative propulsion systems “VASIMR ENGINE: THE FUTURE OF SPACE TRAVEL“. The VASIMR (Variable Specific Impulse Magneto plasma Rocket) engine is being developed by the Ad Astra Rocket Company.
The VASIMR uses electromagnetic propulsion. It is only usable in the vacuum of space, so it will not be applicable to launching space craft. A neutral gas is heated to a high temperature in the engine. A magnetic field focuses the resulting exhaust providing the thrust.
While these engines bring the promise of long lifetimes, they also require significant electrical power for generation of the magnetic field. These may have a place on future space vehicles, but there are still many obstacles in the way of deployment.
While we are no where near ready to launch a colonization effort, thought has been given to how we should proceed. The article “A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO PLANET COLONIZATION” gives a good high level outline as to what will be needed.
I thought that it was significant that an estimated 20,000-40,000 people will be needed to establish a sustainable colony. To me this says that a true colony will take decades to establish once the effort finally begins.
In our solar system the only viable locations would be Mars, or perhaps the moons of Jupiter or Neptune (they talk about having about 50 locations in mind).
Certainly we have all heard referenced to antimatter in episodes of Star Trek. Hbar Technologies plans to bring antimatter propulsion out of science fiction and put it to use. They will be using Kickstarted to raise $200,000 to fund the next stage of their development effort. The concept was originally developed for NASA, but was dropped because of budget constraints.
The scientists involved in the project firmly believe that their design is feasible. They believe that their antimatter propulsion system could accelerate a space craft up to 1-% of the speed of light in only a year. While this is not going to open up passenger excursion to nearby stars, it would enable long-term exploration missions to be planned.
Read more in the article “Antimatter Starship Scheme Coming to Kickstarter“.