Space-travel adventure movies and novels may be fascinating, but they are not very realistic. Traveling through space poses many hazards to humans beyond equipment failures. There is also the danger of radiation exposure when a person leaves Earth’s protective atmosphere and magnetic field. And perhaps the most significant of all is the issue of time.
Travel to the Moon will take days. Traveling to Mars will take months. A space-travel adventure to any planet outside of our solar system would take multiple lifetimes. Astronomers have toyed with the idea of traveling to a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, which is the closest star to us. That planet, Proxima Centauri b, is 42 light-years from Earth. Unless someone could find a way to travel through a wormhole, if such a thing exists, it would take 6,300 years to make the journey with present technology.
We are considering the present technology to be the speed of the Parker Solar Probe launched in 2018, which is 430,000 miles (690,000 km) per hour, or about .064 percent of light speed. According to Astronomer Dr. Hugh Ross, the laws of physics would limit the top speed of a spaceship to about one percent of light speed, but we are far from achieving that. Also, a factor to consider would be a way to slow down on approaching the destination to avoid going right past it or crashing into it.
So, if we sent out a space-travel adventure crew to Proxima Centauri b, it would take many generations to arrive. That means people would have to reproduce many times on the way. Factors to be considered would have to include having enough crew members and genetic diversity to have a healthy crew on arrival at the destination. Using computer modeling, scientists have determined that the minimum team required would be 49 males and 49 females. Ninety-eight crew members would need a large ship. In addition, there would have to be facilities for recreation and to grow food.
The vast majority of the travelers on this spacecraft would never see Earth or the destination planet. Exposure of many generations to the radiation of outer space could cause physical or mental deformities that we can’t imagine. What if this small community just couldn’t get along together in cramped quarters? Avoiding a mutiny or rebellion would be a significant challenge. Keeping hundreds of generations focused on the same mission would be impossible. Putting the crew into a cryogenic state for thousands of years to avoid the multi-generation problem does not seem to be realistic. (Remember the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey?”)
Producing food and recycling water would be essential for such a space-travel adventure. However, taking and preserving all equipment and materials needed for the crew to survive in a hostile environment on arrival at the alien planet would be impossible to plan or predict.
We may enjoy science fiction such as “Star Trek,” “Star Wars,” or “Lost in Space,” but none of them are even remotely realistic. God has given us a beautiful planet with everything we need to survive and thrive. What we must do is take care of it. That means using resources wisely, protecting the environment, and protecting the animals that share the planet with us. Stewardship of God’s gifts was a command from the beginning. (See Genesis 2:15.)
— Roland Earnst © 2021