Interstellar Space Arks – Humanity’s Exodus From Earth


Earlier this year professor Stephen
Hawking warned the human race that unless we found a way to colonize
another planet in the next hundred years or so we would face the very real threat
of extinction. He said that with climate change, overdue asteroid strikes,
epidemics and population growth our own planet is becoming increasingly
precarious. The idea of a brave band of people leaving Earth to start a new life
elsewhere in a galaxy isn’t new rocket pioneer Robert Goddard described an
interstellar ark in 1918 and 10 years later his Russian counterpart Konstantin Tsiolkovsky known as the father of astronautic Theory wrote about and
Noah’s Ark that would fly in space for thousands of years but there are a stack
of seemingly insurmountable problems to building a ship like that. With the
exception of the Moon and Mars we still don’t know where it might go and it’s
likely that the construction process would involve the kind of international
teamwork that seems almost impossible in today’s political environment. But those
issues aside what are the main problems facing the crew of a space Ark the first
is how to keep it moving where will its engines get their energy from in the
1950s Project Orion not to be confused with NASA’s Orion space program explored the idea of powering a vehicle by detonating atomic bombs at its rear the
explosions would be so powerful that they would take place outside of craft
because they destroyed if it took place inside. Model test flights began flown in
1959 and were relatively successful. The Project Orion concept was taken further
by the British interplanetary society who started Project Daedalus in 1973 but
it wasn’t strictly a space Ark concept instead the aim was to send an unmanned spacecraft to a nearby star within a human lifetime. The target was Barnard’s star 5.9 light-years away to be reached during a 50-year flight. Since 1998
Pennsylvania State University has continued the Orion based experiments.
Dr. Robert Enzmann proposed the Enzmann starship in
1964, it will be fueled by a frozen sphere of deuterium a million tons in
weight with a cylinder more than 500 metres long attached behind. It the
deuterium would power a set of nuclear fusion rockets with 390 metre living
compartments capable of containing more than 200 people. Whilst the propulsion
is still in the research the next problem is reliability. With no one in the
emptiness of space able to help and turning back not being an option an
interstellar vehicle would have to be incredibly reliable because the crew
would have to make any repairs with what they had on board or die in the attempt.
Any vehicle carrying the future of humanity to a new destiny would need to
be almost infallible but there’s an even bigger problem keeping the crew healthy
happy and focused. Anthropologist John Moore suggested in 2002 a crew of around
160 would be enough to offer sufficient biological diversity to secure the
future of a human race beyond Earth but Cameron M. Smith calculated in 2013 but
if accidents and disease are taken into consideration several thousand people
might be needed aboard the one-way flight. Regardless of how many there are
they’re all going to face issues no one has ever faced before that’s true of
whether the space Ark is a sleeper ship with everyone on board in suspended
animation or a living ship with the crew awake and working. They will know that
going home is not an option and wherever they end up will have to be come home.
They’ll experience a different type of social development from what happens
here on earth and no one can say how that might turn out spare a thought for
the crew of a generation ship. Those who leave earth know they will die before
the journey is over but the generations born during the flight won’t have a home
planet and they will live with the knowledge that they are only there
make life better for people coming in the future there is also over horrifying
concept of advances in technology meaning that a better faster ark is
launched after the first one and reaches its target planet sooner so that the
first crew having spent 200 years in flight arrived to find a human colony
which has been there for a hundred years or so. The question of how to keep the
peace is also a difficult one the crew would have to become a self policing
community how could that be enforced. Moore argued but family units have been
more successful than military units in colonization’s of the past citing the
example of the Polynesians who sent young couples off in boats to find in
new islands where their children would be born effectively on a new world. There
have been a number of human experiments which have yielded various results in
2016 NASA completed a year-long isolation experiment involving three men
and three women who were locked in a 36 foot diameter dome. NASA said the results proved but a mission to Mars and was achievable in human terms whilst the
participants reported that boredom was the biggest enemy and their advice to
others was to bring lots of books. But that was for just one year and on earth
and with the participants knowing that it was just a test that could be ended
in an emergency. The real thing would bring psychological issues which would
have to be planned for well in advance with people that can get along with each
other the last thing you need is people wanting to kill each other by the
journey’s end or before. There’s also yet another issue if all goes well there is
no epidemic or some other form of disease problem and the space Ark is
completely reliable and the crew remain focused on their mission there’s the
additional possibility of human evolution continuing and taking an
unexpected turn. Perhaps a long time after leaving earth
the people who arrived on the new earth will be nothing like as at all, so if
that’s the case would the human race really have survived.
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