Challenges Of The Remaining Frontier

Challenges Of The Final Frontier

Grant ImaharaCrunch Community Contributor

Grant Imahara is a collaborator and spokesperson for Mouser Electronics. Along with his roles on Mythbusters and Battlebots, he’s the inventor behind many robotic characters, together with the Star Wars prequel-period R2-D2, Craig Ferguson’s robotic sidekick Geoff Peterson on The Late Late Present, and the rhythmic arms on the Energizer Bunny.

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Like many youngsters in my era, I grew up with Star Trek. I’d watch the unique collection in re-runs after which the Subsequent Era in school. I discovered their tackle area exploration fascinating and questioned if we might ever be capable of discover the galaxy like Captain Kirk. In actuality, area is likely one of the harshest environments that we as people can face. Since we’re used to our oxygen-wealthy, photo voltaic-powered, radiation-shielded, one-g Earth, with a view to discover the chilly vacuum of outer area, we’d like an incredible quantity of ingenuity and willpower.

Let’s check out a few of the issues we face with precise manned area journey and see how film and TV makers solved them in comparison with actual life.


Area particles is an issue the Worldwide Area Station (ISS), shuttles and satellites have needed to cope with on multiple event. NASA has methods and procedures in place to guard each astronaut crews and costly unmanned missions from the identical destiny that the ISS and the Tiangong Area Station confronted within the movie Gravity.

However what about touring in area? Think about touring at excessive velocities by way of area and continuously being concerned that a fist-sized rock will punch via your hull, decimating your craft and endangering your crew? In fact, the Enterprise has a deflector array to keep away from these deep area collisions. Till we study to grasp gravitons, we’d like highly effective sensors to look forward and punctiliously plot programs to keep away from collisions.

Challenges Of The Final Frontier

Orion area capsule with ISS (Supply: NASA)


What if one thing hits your craft and also you’re stranded hundreds of thousands of miles from house? Normal radio transmissions from Mars might take as much as 21 minutes to succeed in Earth, and one other 21 minutes for the response. That’s a comparatively very long time to attend for a sign.

Within the Star Trek universe, they ship their lengthy-distance messages at quicker-than-mild speeds by way of Starfleet’s subspace communications array. However till we develop such a know-how, we’re caught with an extended-delay dialog. And a fair longer await assist to reach.


One other drawback that weighs closely on astronauts’ minds is gravity, or the shortage thereof. Astronauts aboard the ISS must be aware of the risks posed to their well being in a zero-g setting. Whereas dwelling on Earth, the thought of gravity is as pure as respiration. Our muscle tissues develop sufficient power to maintain us cellular. With out gravity, our unused muscle mass start to atrophy.

Floating round in area could also be a enjoyable expertise for astronauts, however with out common train, the return to regular gravity might show very disagreeable bodily. So how would vacationers from Earth survive a 5-yr mission by way of area with out the good thing about the substitute gravity current within the Enterprise?

One answer is synthetic gravity by way of centripetal pressure. Seen in Stanley Kubrik’s 2001: A Area Odyssey, and probably equally skilled by you at a carnival, a spinning ring causes an impact just like gravity because of the rotation and inertia, besides that as an alternative of pulling towards the middle of mass, it pushes outward. That is just like the centripetal pressure noticed when spinning a bucket filled with water on a string. Water stays within the bucket even when the bucket is upside-down.

Challenges Of The Final Frontier

Supply: NASA


Maybe the best problem of all is overcoming the velocity restrict of matter and knowledge within the universe as set by Einstein’s Principle of Particular Relativity. The Enterprise will get round this rule through the use of the explosive response of matter and anti-matter, targeted by means of dilithium crystals to energy its warp core. This core generates a “warp” subject in spacetime, making a subspace bubble across the ship that permits it to journey at quicker-than-mild speeds.

However in our world, together with quicker-than-mild (FTL) journey by means of area, not solely are there unimaginable power issues, however there’s additionally a set of unwanted effects. Shifting at nice speeds or shifting away from gravitational plenty causes a unusual impact on time to observers as explored within the current movie Interstellar.

Due to this, shifting at FTL speeds would trigger time to decelerate for the traveler, relative to those that are Earthbound. An hour could possibly be years with sufficient velocity. Whereas that is thrilling information for time-journey followers, it’s not so nice for the buddies and households of the vacationers.

These and lots of extra challenges are standing in the best way of our exploring the cosmos. The gorgeous factor about Star Trek and so many different science-fiction worlds is that they encourage us to beat them.

An entire era of engineers, scientists and astrophysicists record Star Trek as the rationale for his or her chosen fields, and with their assist, it’s inevitable that humanity will quickly see itself touring by way of the cosmos, in search of out new life and new civilizations, boldly going the place nobody has gone earlier than.

Featured Picture: Grant Imahara