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Space & Astronomy

Asteroids could be converted in to starships

April 29, 2018 | Comment icon 21 comments



Could an asteroid be turned in to an interstellar spacecraft ? Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Researchers have put forward the idea of hollowing out an asteroid and using it to travel between the stars.
It might sound like something out of an Arthur C. Clarke novel, but the idea of using asteroids as frameworks for multi-generational interstellar ships could actually have some merit.

Known as the Evolving Asteroid Starship, the concept was devised by the TU Delft Starship Team - a group of students and researchers who share a passion for interstellar spaceflight.

Given the amount of time such a journey could take, long-term sustainability would be crucial.

"We need self-sustaining and evolvable space technology capable of enduring the many decades needed to journey from our Solar System to another," said team founder Angelo Vermeulen.
"As part of that, we are looking at the kind of regenerative life support system pioneered by the ESA-led MELiSSA (Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative) program."

The team has also suggested that the ship would need to act almost like a living organism.

"A starship therefore also needs to be capable of evolving," said Vermeulen.

"After all, returning to earth to tackle problems, as we saw during the subsequent missions towards the moon, is out of the question. The ship needs to be able to behave like a living organism that uses raw materials available in space, such as asteroids."

"These can be exploited for fuel and building materials, for example."

Source: Inquisitr.com | Comments (21)



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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #12 Posted by cyclopes500 4 years ago
They talk about mining an asteroid being difficult because of the low gravity. Why not chuck a giant fine mesh trawling net over the body and then support it using 3D printed props. What goes up won't go through the net.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Torchwood 4 years ago
  My criticism was not aimed at the Science, with which I have no issue, but at the Journalism ;)
Comment icon #14 Posted by schroedingerscat 4 years ago
Waspie Dwarf and Torchwood both have valid points.  Many brilliant ideas languish on dusty shelves for years, awaiting the development of supporting technologies which are necessary to further development of the original brilliant idea.  When, however, people dust of an old idea, and pass it off as original, with no nod to past visionaries, I have a problem.  In addition to this discussion, there is the laser launch system, originally postulated by A. N. Pirri and R. F. Weiss at Avco Everett in the early 1970's.  In the 1980's Leik Myrabo began work along these same lines, with no mention by M... [More]
Comment icon #15 Posted by quiXilver 4 years ago
We already live on a self sustaining organic space ship.
Comment icon #16 Posted by schroedingerscat 4 years ago
True, but this one only takes us in circles.
Comment icon #17 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 4 years ago
Remember that this is not a peer-reviewed scientific paper we are talking about, in which case not referencing the earlier work would be considered plagiarism. In deed the article in the original post is from a news site and not a science site and is not the words of the scientists making the proposal. This is a proposal to do more research on the life support system needed for such an asteroid based starship, it is not an essay on the history of generational starships. Every time there is a proposal for a new factory using mass production should it include a reference to Henry Ford? I underst... [More]
Comment icon #18 Posted by psyche101 4 years ago
Regardless of who's idea it was, its a fascinating concept. I'd agree Waspie  we would all be winners in the long run if the concept proves viable. It sure would be quite some generations on board. I wonder what potential targets might be proposed? Or what speeds could be achieved. 
Comment icon #19 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 4 years ago
I don't think we have enough information yet to even begin thinking about potential targets, but that is changing rapidly.
Comment icon #20 Posted by schroedingerscat 4 years ago
Epsilon Eridini, a very young K class star with a long lifespan, which appears to still be in the final stages of planetary formation.  If we get there soon enough (say, within the next 10 million years), we might be able to build a world custom tailored to our needs.  At just over 10 light years distance, it is also relatively close.  If we can produce a pulsed fusion engine, which is still a big 'if', we might attain 10% c, bringing travel time to this target to less than 120 years, and with advances in human longevity, the youngest expedition members might actually live to see both Earth, a... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by quiXilver 4 years ago
Not at all.  The Earth ellipses around the Sun, while the Sun circumnavigates our galactic center... which also spirals through the universe. We travel in multiple spiraling archs, not in a circle.


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