top of page
  • Writer's pictureKirk

Warp Drive - Space Travel

I previously posted on Space Travel in the sense of what is space. That is, what exactly are we traveling through, which gets to the essence of the fabric of space itself:


In this post I want to speak to our limited ability to travel to distant objects. This post really speaks to the magnitude of space and our puny ability to travel within it. And, if you were a past Star Trek guy like me, how can you not at least mention the fictional "warp drive" used in the episodes to travel through the galaxies? If there are any Klingons or Romulans reading this post, please comment below.


So, let's start with where we are today. How fast can we travel through space? The fastest man made object to travel through space is the Parker Solar Probe. In September 2023 it recorded a record speed of nearly 400,000 mph relative to the sun (speed is only relative to other objects). How fast is that? Well the speed of light is nearly 671 million mph, so the fastest man made object travels at 0.06% the speed of light. To put that in perspective, if the Parker probe and a photon of light started from the starting blocks the same time and raced for 671 million miles, by the time the space probe reached the finish line the photon would have been waiting for nearly 70 days. (But I don't think the photon would wait around). Yeah, our efforts to travel fast are puny to date!


But what about a manned spacecraft? How fast have we achieved to date? Well, no improvements there since it was first established in 1969 with Apollo 10. Only a little under 25,000 mph. That's slow in space terms as it represents only 1/27,000 the speed of light!


It would take over 7 months to fly to Mars at that speed if we used the average distance between our planets at 140 million miles. To fly to the sun? Well, that's closer and we could fly a manned craft there in just over 5 months, but, of course, it would burn up before it ever made it.


What about the closest star other than our sun? Proxima Centauri? It would take over 18,000 years to send an unmanned probe like the Parker Space Probe, but 118,000 years for a manned craft. Light itself takes 4.37 years to make the journey so when you look at the star through a telescope you are actually seeing what it looked like over 4 years ago!


Yeah, space is huge and our attempts to traverse it our incredibly puny. So how did Captain Kirk do it? How did Scotty maintain warp 10 in this fictional engine on the Enterprise? Well, I'm not aware they ever explained that. It can only be inferred in the name of the warp drive engine. It was able to warp space.


Now warping space implies producing a large amount of gravitational waves. I've always assumed the warp drive engine produced so much gravity, it created a hypothetical worm hole that was somehow controlled and stable (not possible by any known technology). Or perhaps it simply shrinks space in front of the vessel while expanding it behind? We don't know, all we can infer is space was warped by these incredible engines.


The mystery of this warp drive died in 2005 when James Doohan (Scotty) passed away. I don't think he really had a lot of faith in those engines anyway. How many times did he report back to Captain Kirk, "she can't take it Captain!" But somehow those engines always did.


One thing is for sure, if man can never find a way to manipulate space by warping it or creating a controlled wormhole, it is unlikely we will boldly go where no man has gone before. At current technology, it would take about 700 million years for a manned flight to the nearest galaxy to our Milky Way. But, of course, if we could travel at near light speed it shortens it to only 25,000 years But at that speed, time is all but stopped for those on board. Remember, at light speed time has no meaning. A photon of light does not experience time!

14 views4 comments

Recent Posts

See All

The Line for Senior Citizens and Special Needs

Ok I know I just wrote about my difficulty coping with traveling with an old person recently: https://www.kirkstravelstories.com/post/traveling-with-an-old-person I talked about my reluctance to give

4 Kommentare

Mit 0 von 5 Sternen bewertet.
Noch keine Ratings

Rating hinzufügen
Roger Wells
Roger Wells
25. Jan.
Mit 5 von 5 Sternen bewertet.

Space, the final frontier that I will never be part of. It’s all Greek to me. 🤔🤔🤔🤔

Gefällt mir
Kirk
Kirk
25. Jan.
Antwort an

You’re traveling through space now in this big blue ball!

Gefällt mir

Mike Wells
Mike Wells
24. Jan.
Mit 5 von 5 Sternen bewertet.

This is the scientific side of you . Quite a reference back to Star Trek days and Scotty and Captain Kirk. Possibly you are reliving your childhood days. Beam me up Scotty

Gefällt mir
Kirk
Kirk
24. Jan.
Antwort an

I built a plastic model of the enterprise when I was about 9 or 10 years old. I got as a birthday gift. Only model I ever built.

Gefällt mir
bottom of page