The Warp drive, Science fiction near completion.

A time-laps view from the ISS.

A time-lapse view from the ISS.

James Allen

Impulse plasmas, high-speed space flight, warp fields, quantum vacuums and low-thrust torsion pendulums. Think I’m quoting star wars? You’re wrong.

These are words and phrases from a publicly released document from NASA’s Johnson Space Centre published in December of last year (2011), one of the first of such documents to mention NASA’s “Eagleworks” laboratory, which focuses on the study of space travel and what has become to be the birth of the “warp drive”.

The document clearly states the laboratory’s intention to develop and test propulsion technologies that will enable human exploration of our extended solar system within the next 50 years. This new form of propulsion would involve the same physics found in the force that is responsible for the on-going expansion of the cosmos.

Our generation was always lost to the possibility of exploration, born too late to experience the thrill of mapping the undiscovered corners of Earth and too early to experience the mass open commercial space race… or are we?

The physics behind the new propulsion engine. Don't worry, I don't understand it either.

The technology pushed forward in this document suggests that man may set foot on another planet within this century, and while that man may not be me, and it most likely won’t be you, witnessing such an event is enough to humble even those who take no interest in exospheric adventures, no-one is immune to the grin that grows on your face while revisiting the first moon landing footage, and another huge step for mankind is well overdue.

With the American government slashing their space exploration budget to help deal with the loss of their AAA credit rating, all eyes are now on private space firms for the future of our skyward endeavours. Just this month, the Dragon spacecraft, which was made, designed and built entirely by the private firm SpaceX became the first commercially built spaceship to dock with and resupply the International space station, which may not sound game-changing, however it has fundamental implications for those who relish the fact that it has made space exploration just one step closer to reality.

Personally, This announcement of high-speed propulsion testing makes me feel over the moon (pun entirely intended).  This could be the big break that our gravity-stricken race has been waiting for, a real chance of moving from one rock to the other.

In memorandum, Sir Patrick Moore.


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