Interstellar Transportation and Communications

Interstellar Transportation and Communications

Almost everyone has ridden in levicars, hypergravs, or tube trains, but less than one percent of Earth’s people have traveled in the airless void of interplanetary space. Consequently most pioneers ask the same questions about space travel. How is it done, how long will it take, how safe is it, and how comfortable will I be during the trip? Pioneers also want to know how they will communicate with their family and friends on Earth after arriving on their new planet. This section on interstellar transportation and communications attempts to briefly answer each of these common questions.

By any measure of our Earthly experience, the stars lie incomprehensibly distant. Comparing a trip from New York to Peking with a trip to our sun’s nearest stellar neighbor, Alpha Centauri, is like comparing a distance of three centimeters to a trip halfway around the Earth! To travel such distances requires great speeds and large amounts of energy. Such speeds and energy levels alter concepts of space and time as we commonly perceive them on Earth, so calculating how long a trip between the stars will take becomes a very complex problem.