Last time we took a close look at LIGO’s world-changing detection of gravitational waves. Part II of our series takes a look at one of the possible applications for aerospace engineering, a possibility right out of science fiction.

Warp-speed, Mr. Sulu

As the news of gravitational-waves spread across the globe, the dust had hardly settled before questions of potential future applications began to arise. For astrophysicists and science fiction enthusiasts alike, the potential for human space exploration seemed to be more within reach.

Anyone interested in human space exploration can tell you that two of the biggest roadblocks preventing us from traveling to distant planets or systems is fuel and time. To travel to the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy (our closest neighbor) it would take 25,000 years to arrive if you could travel at the speed of light–which comes with significant challenges. Generally, scientists believe that faster-than-light travel isn’t possible because as an object moves faster, its mass increases and therefore the amount of energy required to propel it also increases (adding the mass of the fuel to the total mass). It would be impossible to carry enough fuel to keep a craft accelerating towards its destination. Even if light-speed isn’t the desired goal, the amount of time it would take to travel to a distant galaxy would be greater than a human life-span and would require unrealistic quantities of fuel.

But what if instead of propelling a craft through space, it were possible to bend the fabric, causing it to expand and contract in such a way that an object can travel without ever actually having to move? That is the idea behind the warp drive. Warp drives have long been a staple of science fiction novels, boldly propelling the likes of Captain Kirk along his many adventures, and for just as long they have been thought to be scientifically impossible. But the observation of gravitational waves and the knowledge that spacetime can actually bend and contract means that it might not be as far-fetched as many people used to think.

What that means for aerospace engineers is that there is a whole new realm of possibilities when it comes to human space exploration. And while it is certainly probable that we will not be visiting distant galaxies in our lifetimes, the work and research that can be achieved now may be the building blocks of a brand new future, one in which humanity lives amongst the stars.

Your Aerospace Future

As someone working in the field of aerospace engineering, the idea that you could contribute to such a future is one of the most exciting prospects we can imagine. That’s why it is so important to have all of the training and skills that you need to do your job, and do it well. If you are too busy worrying about deadlines or office logistics, that is time you aren’t spending on your projects. TSTI is here to help your teams achieve optimal performance. We offer both on-site and online aerospace engineering courses designed to help you complete your tasks efficiently. You shouldn’t have to worry about struggling to execute projects on time and on budget, or get stuck on conceptualizing. Contact TSTI today, and let us help you get back on track to the stars.