How Much Time to Reach the Nearest Star?
Assume we wanted to build a spacecraft using todayís technology, how long would it take to reach the nearest star?
The closest star to Earth, besides our Sun, is Alpha Centauri, and it is actually a star system rather than just a single star. This is because Alpha Centauri has at least three known stars; and unfortunately, Alpha Centauri has no known planets. Alpha Centauri is averages approximately 4.37 light years away from Earth. The closest of these three stars is about 4.24 light years away from Earth, so that is the distance necessary for any spacecraft to travel to reach the nearest star.
Next, we need to determine the fastest spacecraft to determine how fast a spaceship can travel.
As of now, the two fastest spacecrafts are the Helios 1 and 2 probes that traveled almost 253,000 kilometers per hour. Keep in mind that this speed is the fastest that these spacecrafts have traveled and not the fastest that they could have traveled. Letís assume for arguments sake that the fastest spacecraft that could be built could travel at 350,000 kilometers per hour. It could be slightly higher or lower, but the order of magnitude would be about the same.
Also keep in mind that the fastest manned spacecraft was Apollo 10, and it only reached the speed of almost 40,000 kilometers per hour.
To travel 4.24 light years at 350,000 km/h, it would take a spaceship approximately 13,080 years to reach the nearest star. If we wanted a manned mission to the nearest star, it would probably travel 4.24 light years at about 40,000 km/h. This would take approximately 114,500 years to reach the nearest star. Unfortunately, I donít think any spacecraft could support human life for that long of period of time.
As a result, I donít think it is practically feasible to travel to the nearest star with the current level of technology and at least not in our lifetimes. We can only hope that mankind will invent much better and faster means of transportation in the near futureÖ at least in the next 114,500 or so years.
by Phil for Humanity