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Mark Millis on the possibilities of interstellar travel
July 3, 2010
Neil Armstrong wants us to go back to the Moon. Buzz Aldrin, his Apollo 11 crewmate, wants us to leapfrog on to Mars. But Dr Marc Millis wants us to go a bit further - a hundred million times further, to be exact.
He says the trek to other worlds is arduous but unless we start now to develop a form of technology which lets humans to travel light years in a lifetime, we will be squandering the greatest challenge to humankind yet.
The technological windfall to humanity of space travel is huge. The 1,969 moonshot gave us everything from Teflon to tennis shoes. As the scientific community's most vociferous advocate for research into interstellar flight, Millis has set up a new scientific foundation to explore how we could cross the mind-boggling abyss.
The Tau Zero Foundation
From the inspirations of science fiction through the realities of humanity's first deep space probes, the technical aspects of interstellar flight are examined. Focusing first on spacecraft engines, other issues like reliability, communication, navigation, and eventually human life support are also on the docket. The Tau Zero Foundation works on the seemingly simple solar sails through the seemingly impossible faster-than-light travel.
As profoundly important as it would be to give humanity access to another habitable planet, the implications are complex. There are many deep questions about our place in the Universe left to ponder. What effect would such a quest have on society today? What if other intelligent life is discovered? What have we learned from our prior extensions into new realms? Is science fiction more than just entertainment?