NASA team unveils future of space travel known as photonic propulsion

NASA team unveils future of space travel known as photonic propulsion

Getting to Mars is a dream which  NASA may be approaching sooner than many may think.

As of now, it would take just about six months for a man mission to reach the Red planet. However, researchers at NASA are developing a new laser propulsion system that may shorten that trip to just about three days. The system would use lasers to propel a large sail. It would not use the photons from the Sun’s rays, but instead, “Earth-based lasers,” this all according to ScienceAlert.

Philip Lubin, Researcher at the University of California in Santa Barbara said in a video on laser propulsion and his NASA Innovative Advanced Concept (NIAC made the discovery), “There are recent advances which take this from science fiction to science reality. There is no known reason why we can’t do this. There is a roadmap which you can look at in our paper to relativistic flight. The system is completely scalable modularly, built to any size you want from a tiny one to a gigantic one.”

In the video, Lubin says how the propulsion technology wouldn’t instantly be used for a Mars mission because it would need to be tested first. Instead, it would be more likely used in a ultra-thin spacecraft, decked out with, “integrated optical communications, optical systems and sensors combined with directed energy propulsion.”

“We have to radically rethink our strategy or give up our dreams of reaching the stars, or wait for technology that does not exist. While we all dream of human spaceflight to the stars in a way romanticized in books and movies, it is not within our power to do so, nor it is clear that this is the path we should choose,” said Lubin in a paper discussing technology and its advancements.

NASA has in fact approved Lubin and his team’s work and is even in the process of providing them with a grant to begin to bring their research to life.

Lubin finished with, “We could propel a 100 kilogram robotic craft to Mars in a few days. If you want to push something like shuttle class, it takes you roughly in order of month to get there. Within 25 year light of Earth, there are actually quite a few potential exoplanets and habitable things to visit – that may be habitable. We don’t know of course. There are many targets to choose from. The closest is Alpha Centauri, which is about four light years away.”

The odds for trips to far away planets and galaxies are the best they’ve ever been, and this discovery makes them much greater.