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About life as an info-tech - arguing (preaching?) about what tickles my mind. I like Internet Protocol (IP). Which version? Never mind. But I run on IP. Yes, I do ~/`~/`~/` on IP!
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Regular guy? Maybe. Was lucky enough to go places on foot, riding, driving, sailing, flying and even dreaming. I do tricks connecting tech-devices and teaching device users - that gave me the wherewithal to go places in Africa, Arabia, Europe, America and want to go to Asia, then into space to Mars (dream on, dreamer) ! Childhood pass time was always in a mechanical workshop fixing something - so i tinker a lot. I like meeting and knowing people.

Monday, May 02, 2005

ONLY 4,200 years

Decades ago, Venansio Senoga, a veteran radio personality on Uganda's airwaves nurtured my astronomical interests through a weekly broadcast sponsored by Sembule Steel Mills Ltd. I wish that program gets airtime again. It could be the beginning of Uganda's space program.

As NASA shifted dates for the resumption of shuttle missions, my attention switched to reading a bit more about my heavenly interests, and while engaged thus, wondered how fast and accurate space travel could get. Even if man has not yet landed on our nearest planetary neighbour, that should not be a reason to stop pondering a journey further afield - to the nearest star.

Proxima Centauri landing? No. Just a fly-by suffices. NASA's space ships travel at a heavenly 7.8 km per second. At that speed, it would take 160,000 years to reach Proxima Centauri, the nearest star. The fastest man-made object, the Helios 2 has a speed of 70.2 km per second, which reduces the journey to 18,000 years. Still bad. For purposes of comparison, the speed of sound in air is about 340 metres per second only and the speed of light in a vacuum is about 300,000 km per second.

However, scientists are working on a gadget that will dash at 300 km per second, trimming the Proxima Centauri journey to a spooky 4,200 years ONLY - firmly beyond the current lifespan of both man and machine. Heavens!

6 Comments:

Anonymous nzeFrank said...

Spacecraft speeds improving 21 km per sec (75,600 km per hour) - but note, this is unmanned.

CNN reports:
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft roared into space January 19 2006 Thursday afternoon bound for the planet Pluto. The spacecraft is the fastest ever launched, according to NASA.

New Horizons lifted off atop a Lockheed Martin Atlas V rocket at 2 p.m. ET from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to begin a 10-year, 3 billion-mile mission.

New Horizons will reach a speed of about 47,000 mph (75,600 kph), more than 10 times faster than a speeding bullet. According to The Physics Factbook, a bullet from a large-caliber rifle travels at about 1,500 meters or 5,000 (1,500 meters) feet per second -- about 3,400 mph (5,400 kph).

It took Apollo 11 three days to reach the moon in 1969. New Horizons will fly by it in about nine hours and reach Jupiter in a little more than a year, the space agency said.

If all goes as planned, it will then execute a "gravity assist" maneuver, slingshotting around Jupiter to pick up speed.

The maneuver will increase New Horizons' speed to 21 kilometers per second -- 47,000 mph, NASA said.

From there it will travel nine more years in more or less a straight line to Pluto.

The probe, about the size of a baby grand piano, will capture the first up-close imagery of Pluto, its moons and a region of the outer solar system called the Kuiper Belt.

Hhhhm! Some journey.

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