Sunday, May 13, 2012

An Enterprise in 20 Years?

An engineer is saying that if we dedicate the resources, we could have our own starship in twenty years.

In Star Trek lore, the first Starship Enterprise will be built by the year 2245. But today, an engineer has proposed — and outlined in meticulous detail — building a full-sized, ion-powered version of the Enterprise complete with 1G of gravity on board, and says it could be done with current technology, within 20 years.

"We have the technological reach to build the first generation of the spaceship known as the USS Enterprise — so let's do it," writes the curator of the Build The Enterprise website, who goes by the name of BTE Dan.

This "Gen1" Enterprise could get to Mars in 90 days, to the moon in three, and "could hop from planet to planet dropping off robotic probes of all sorts en masse — rovers, special-built planes and satellites,” BTE Dan says.

I'd by lying if I said that this doesn't make me feel giddy. This guy isn't some dreamer, either. He actually is an engineer. He's got plans on the website for the ship including plans for funding the endeavor.

The importance of dreaming big cannot be understated. Dreams inspire us to achieve new heights, to strive for better things. They challenge us to be better than we are today. Without dreams we stagnate. NASA inspired so many people back in the 60s and 70s, but it has lost that these days. Just check out this recent Onion headline: "NASA Announces Plans to Put Man on Bus to Cleveland." How sad that it has fallen so far.

There are a lot of anti-science people out there and there's a lot of people out there who argue that "we shouldn't spend money on space stuff until we fix our problems down here." Guess what? There will always be problems here on Earth.

We are humans, imperfect constructs. We have messy feelings and emotions and an inability to perfectly reason. That's not going to go away. But dreaming big and aspiring to new heights will help us solve problems. Look at this list of technologies that came out of the space race. And that's just the start! It's hard to overestimate what the drive for space technology did for those of us stuck on terra firma. A new push for space will have the same effects. It will inspire new scientists in all sorts of fields.

Maybe this specific project isn't the answer. Or maybe it is. The sad fact is that there is far too little talk of space exploration. Check out his website, though. Check out NASA's website. Bug your Congressional representatives to fund more space exploration. Make your kids watch Star Trek. Inspire them.

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