Greg Matloff Q&A On Sails and Interstellar Flight
posted by admin on March 25, 2013
In a new series of Q&A we’ll be reaching out to Icarus Interstellar consultants to gain their perspective on tough problems associated with interstellar flight. In this second Q&A we ask Dr Gregory Matloff questions relating to interstellar probes and sail propulsion.
Dr. Greg Matloff, FBIS, is a leading expert in possibilities for interstellar propulsion and is a tenured astronomy professor with the physics department of New York City College of Technology, CUNY, a consultant with NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, a Hayden Associate of the American Museum of Natural History and a Corresponding Member of the International Academy of Astronautics. He co-authored with Les Johnson of NASA and C Bangs Living Off the Land in Space (2007) and has authored Deep-Space Probes (2000 and 2005). As well as authoring More Telescope Power (2002), Telescope Power (1993), The Urban Astronomer (1991), he co-authored with Eugene Mallove The Starflight Handbook (1989). His papers on interstellar travel, the search for extraterrestrial artifacts, and methods of protecting Earth from asteroid impacts have been published in JBIS, Acta Astronautica, Spaceflight, Journal of Astronautical Sciences, and Mercury. His popular articles have appeared in many publications, including Analog. In 1998, he won a $5000 prize in the international essay contest on ETI sponsored by the National Institute for Discovery Science.
Q. Which technique, if any, do you favor as the first likely propulsion technology for interstellar flight, and why?
A. Based on current technology and the fact that sails have been trusted in space and can be scaled, I suspect that some form of sailcraft will power the first interstellar trip.
Q. What will it take for us to launch an interstellar mission by 2100?
A. I expect that for missions beyond 550-1,000 AU, we need an expanded space infrastructure.
Q. Why has much of your work gravitated toward sails?
A. Because in my opinion only the sail has a good chance of realization in the foreseeable future.
Q. Can we bypass colonization of the moon, mars and asteroids or is this a critical step in the path toward becoming an interstellar species?
A. The Moon and Mars are sideshows. But moving and mining near-Earth asteroids is a requirement. With such mined materials we can construct habitats that can serve as prototype world ships.
Q. Are you supportive of more speculative research in the realms of warp drives and wormholes, or are they a distraction?
I always favor research because breakthroughs are unpredictable. My money is on applying ZPE to inertia modification rather than warps and worm holes.
For more dialogue on interstellar flight, sign up for Starship Congress, our space exploration conference with a focus on interstellar flight, to be held in Dallas Texas this August.