Blog

Oct 1, 2012

Debunking Conventional Rocket Interstellar Travel Once And For All

Posted by in categories: education, engineering, physics, policy, space

Previous Post in this Debunking Series.

Why is it necessary to debunk bad or unrealistic technologies? If don’t we live in a dream world idealized by theoretical engineering that has no hope of ever becoming financially feasible. What a waste of money, human resources and talent. I’d rather we know now upfront and channel our energies to finding feasible engineering and financial solutions. Wouldn’t you?

We did the math required to figure out how much fuel one would require just to reach 0.1c and then cost at that velocity until you reach Alpha Centauri and reverse thrust to orbit the star.

Table 1: Conventional Rocket Fuel Costs to travel to Alpha Centauri at 0.1c
Maximum Velocity (km/s)

1980’s cost ($/lb)

Proportion by Weight

Amount (lb)

Cost (in 1980 $)

Apollo Fuel Mass

11.2

5,625,000

$20,250,000.00

Alpha Centauri Liquid H2

0.1c or 29,970 km/s

$3.60

82.46%

6.60E+13

$237,473,684,210,526

LOX

$0.08

17.54%

1.40E+13

$1,122,807,017,544

Total

8.00E+13

$238,596,491,228,070

Note: 1) Fuel mass required to reach 0.1c or 29,970 km/s is twice 5,625,000*(29,979/11.2)^2,
once to accelerate 0.1c on leaving Earth and a second time to decelerate at mid
journey to arrive at zero km/s
2) 8.00E+13 lbs converts into 36,287,389,600 metric tons

This analysis assumes that your payload is the about the same size as the Apollo 11 command, service and lunar modules with a combined mass of 46.7 metric tons. That gives you an idea of how impractically small 100 tons is for an interstellar flight.

The total cost of a conventional rocket interstellar trip is on the order of $238,596 billion! Even if we said that the costs are over estimated by 1,000x it would still costs $238 billion!

It is so unrealistic that if you search the internet the parties who say such a trip never discuss how much it will cost. The parties who say it cannot be will also point out the mass of fuel required.

I don’t need to say more. Debunked.

The next in this Debunking Series.

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Benjamin T Solomon is the author & principal investigator of the 12-year study into the theoretical & technological feasibility of gravitation modification, titled An Introduction to Gravity Modification, to achieve interstellar travel in our lifetimes. For more information visit iSETI LLC, Interstellar Space Exploration Technology Initiative.

Solomon is inviting all serious participants to his LinkedIn Group Interstellar Travel & Gravity Modification.

2

Comments — comments are now closed.

  • Tom Kerwick on October 2, 2012 3:31 am

    Agreed. Easily debunked. Though I don’t recall anyone suggesting use of a conventional rocket for such. A cost analysis on a nuclear powered alternative might be interesting…

  • Benjamin T. Solomon on October 2, 2012 4:54 am

    Tom Kerwick. Thanks, but that was before your time.

    I’ll walk through why each technology should be debunked, and why not if that could be the case. All in due time.

    Looking ahead, after all this debunking, the question I’m getting to is, what is next? That is where I’m heading. There is always a logical reason to what I’m doing.