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The three engines we need to conquer the solar system and the stars

We need to colonize other worlds as soon as possible so that humanity can survive any extinction event on Earth. But, as experts point out and no matter how hard Elon Musk tries, colonizing Mars will be extremely difficult with current chemical engine technology. Beyond the red planet, it will be impossible. We have to increase the speed of our spaceships, as this fantastic video shows:

The video explains the three engines we need to colonize the Moon, Mars, other planets in the solar system and worlds in other star systems, such as Proxima Centauri, in different time frames, both for their execution and for the duration of the trip.

The limits of known physics

The first is the nuclear fission propulsion engine, which will allow us to cut travel times to Mars from eight to just three months . The theory to manufacture these motors is more than well known and we have the necessary technology to manufacture them. Starting them up is just a matter of allocating the budget (which is not extraordinary), designing the project and executing it. 

Both the Pentagon and NASA are working on these systems right now. China is also frantically working on an ion engine linked to a nuclear generator capable of reaching 50 megawatts of power and beyond. Even so, these engines with nuclear fission technology would still be too slow, taking more than two years to reach Saturn , one of the systems with moons that could host human colonies.

Fusion engines would allow us to reach Mars in just 30 days or less. These systems are somewhat further away than fission engines. Although the theory is proven by our current understanding of physics, the technology to build them is still under development. The good news is that there are universities and companies that are already actively working on making them a reality in less than two decades.

Finally, there are the “breakthrough” engines, those that defy the laws of known physics and could take us to other stars — like Proxima Centauri — in a matter of months. It's the lifelong dream of Dr. Harold "Sonny" White , a former NASA Eagleworks Advanced Propulsion Group engineer (who is also the video's narrator). According to White - who you can see explaining all this in the conference below - the only way to get to travel to other stars is by using an engine with a propulsive technology that we cannot imagine right now because we do not have the necessary knowledge.

White's team now works for DARPA, the Pentagon's research arm, exploring new propellants. From that work came the detection of the first curvature bubble that demonstrates in a practical way that this faster-than-light travel technology is possible, although for now it is far from becoming a real spacecraft.

limitless imagination

White is from the Limitless Space Institute (LSI), the non-profit institution that produced the video (made by Swedish digital artist Erik Wernquist, author of electrifying short films like Wanderers and Crashing Into Saturn). LSI's mission is "to inspire and educate the next generation to travel beyond our solar system and support research and development of necessary technologies." Their ultimate goal, they say, is to launch a manned mission to Proxima Centauri before the end of this century , something reminiscent of what John F. Kennedy proposed to the US Congress in 1961 but on a different scale.

LSI's mission is incredibly ambitious. Just like the Apollo project. As Kennedy said in the famous speech above at Rice University, they had to go to the Moon and back using technology that didn't exist — like integrated circuits — and materials that were unthinkable at the time. But they did.

Benefits on Earth

The activity of the LSI, financing projects in different universities and paying for the training of future engineers with brilliant minds, will have benefits beyond this possible "breakthrough" that will revolutionize humanity. It's partly a labor of faith, as Kennedy also said when explaining the investment every American should make, 50 cents a week or $4.6 adjusted for inflation. There are no guarantees that the projects funded by the LSI will be successful just as there were no guarantees when the US decided to put a human on the Moon before the end of the 1960s.

The US did not know what benefits that investment that the Americans were going to make for the Apollo project would bring. As was later shown, Apollo brought about an unprecedented technological boom that the United States is still experiencing, with achievements resulting in multibillion-dollar industries, from microprocessors to mobile phones to new materials or unimaginable medical advances in technology . epoch. LSI knows that by supporting the research and development of advanced technologies that may seem like science fiction right now, unthinkable things will be achieved regardless of whether one of the studies they fund results in an engine capable of taking us to Proxima Centauri in a little less six months. 

Ultimately, no matter what happens, we will all win.

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