Make It Already: NASA's Warp Drive Spaceship Concept

June 12, 2014


Note: Worthwhile larger version of the above pic HERE.

This is the Enterprise, NASA's concept for a warp-drive spaceship capable of interstellar travel. Interstellar means between stars. So this is a spaceship that could travel between stars. Impressive, but I only need a spaceship that can get me to the surface of the sun and back. "There is no coming back from the sun." *wink* I know.

It's not a fantasy sci-fi ship but a concept based on the equations of Dr. Harold White--lead at NASA's Eagleworks Advanced Propulsion Physics Laboratory--who also works in ion engines and plasma thrusters.

Dr. White--whose daily life is working in future propulsion solutions for interplanetary travel in the near future, like ion and plasma thrusters--developed new theoretical work that solved the problems of the Alcubierre Drive concept, a theory that allowed faster-than-light travel based on Einstein's field equations in general relativity, developed by theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre.

A spaceship equipped with a warp drive would allow faster-than-light travel by bending the space around it, making distances shorter. At the local level, however, the spaceship wouldn't be moving faster than light. Therefore, warp drive travel doesn't violate the first Einstein commandment: Thou shall not travel faster than light.

The feasibility of building a space-bending warp-drive aside, I don't care how we get out of this solar system to go explore other worlds, just as long as we do it. If you told me you could shoot me out of a cannon to Alpha Centauri I would already have my crash helmet on. The sad fact is, NASA will never receive the funding to build an interstellar spaceship. People don't care enough. NASA would be lucky to receive the funding to build a model OF A MODEL of this spaceship OUT OF POPSICLE STICKS. Now I'm depressed, somebody come cheer me up. "I'll send a clown." Cool, I'll send a thank-you note with anthrax.

Keep going for more shots.







Thanks to maiaolorin, Wilmersama and John A, who already filled out the paperwork to be astronauts on the first interstellar journey but I ripped up their applications so mine will be the only one in the pile when it comes time to pick the crew.

  • Snellville Bob

    Its great until you encounter a single stationary pebble while going warp 6.

  • Riz

    Dint dr white make megaman?

  • Looks like a "Dave"

    "Make It Already"
    Shouldn't that be, "Make It So!" as Captain Picard might say? ;)

  • Cortney A.

    Thanks for the new wallpaper.

  • Sarah

    At first I thought it was going to be an article I can take seriously, then the typical anti-technology debunking began.

  • I've always heard bending space was expensive.

  • pk421

    NASA needs to stop bitching about funding and open up a Kickstarter campaign

  • Benjamin Peters

    That would be awesome, except Congress has made it illegal for NASA to accept funds from donations or campaigns. They can only get their money from Congress. Sooo, good luck with that.

  • The Chadwick

    Gorgeous, just like the Enterprise XCV-330 mid 21st Century early warp vessel. Its thanks to Star Trek (for the most part) that scientist, physicist, engineers, and doctors do what they do when they strive to advance their field.

  • Levi Gridley

    We need this. If my wish to become a full conversion cyborg is ever to be realized humanity needs to get off its ass and into space. Interstellar adventure here I come!

  • zin

    At first I thought the concept was just fishing for support, but then I realized the toruses were part of the ship as opposed to a dock. At that moment, I was reacquainted with a feeling I had missed for a long time.


  • AS

    I think it is worth pointing out this NASA quote on the subject of their work in the (field) of warp technology.

    "the energy required and mass negativity is still many orders of magnitude greater than anything currently possible by human technology. "


  • The Chadwick

    Absolutely, but the fact that our theoretical and technological advancements keep accelerating, it won't be as far off as we first thought.

  • disqus_k2QxOV9H7Z

    Probably we won't send non-augmented humans to another star in this century, and there is the chance that there won't be many non-augmented humans in the next century. Probably our best chance at colonizing space is turning ourselves into machines first.

  • Konstantin

    That's absolutely true. But the amount of theoretical progress that's been made in the past two decades is enormous. There are still some questions with FTL warp, in particular that "mass neagativity" bit, but sub-light warp drives are essentially an engineering problem now. I wouldn't expect anything practical for a long, long while, but I'd be surprised if we don't see some experimental probes moseying along under warp in our life time.

  • AS

    But will we get to see the data from a warp probe? I don't know the details, is communication possible from an object inside a warp bubble?

  • Konstantin

    Electromagnetic radiation, including radio waves, pass through warp bubble without problems. If the warp bubble travels faster than light, there are some blind spots and other complications, but we aren't talking about these. With sub-light warp, you'd just need to adjust frequencies for red/blue shifts. All in all, sub-light warp is surprisingly mild. Almost all of the typical problems with warp drive, like shower of radiation on exit, don't manifest until you get close to light speed. Up to something like 0.1c could be entirely managed with technology we have. The only problem is getting enough energy into just the right place to get the thing going. We can produce that much energy, but not in a controlled way.

  • AS

    I was thinking there might be timing problems that caused the data to get garbled. I never thought about sub-light warp. Cool.

  • The Magnificent Newtboy

    Or entangled particle relays, it would be slow bit rate but instantaneous communication. I read an article recently that a group had managed to manipulate one of an entangled pair and observe the same change in the other. Pretty damn cool.

  • Konstantin

    You can't communicate via entangled pairs. There is a theorem on that. There was a recent article on improved quantum teleportation experiment, which uses entangled pairs. That's probably what you are thinking of. It's really cool, and you can do a lot with quantum teleportation that you can't with ordinary communication. But it's not instantaneous. You have to send some classical data along to make QT work. So it's still light-speed limited.

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