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I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to Sci-Fi.  I love movies such as The Empire Strikes Back and Stargate, and... NASA Physicist Unveils Warp Speed Spacecraft Design

I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to Sci-Fi.  I love movies such as The Empire Strikes Back and Stargate, and as a kid I really enjoyed escaping reality by watching TV series like Star Trek.  To me, the idea of traveling to distant stars or planets via wormholes or using a spacecraft, still gives me a sense of wonder.  Maybe someday we will accomplish these feats and it won’t just be in the minds of people like George Lucas and Gene Roddenberry.

Could this be the concept design for our future FTL spacecraft?

Could this be the concept design for our future FTL spacecraft?

If it is going to happen, then I suppose mankind’s best efforts would come out of NASA.  Faster than light (FTL) travel, may not be so far off in the future after all.  NASA’s Harold White has been working over the last four years to develop a warp drive, which will allow a spacecraft to travel at speeds faster than light.  White’s team has been working on a warp drive that would transcend space and shorten the distance between two points.  This would allow the craft to break the speed of light and would be a spaceship with no speed limit whatsoever.

White currently heads up NASA’s Advanced Propulsion Team.  He spoke about the concept of an FTL starship at a conference last year. His project has reached a new level of interest this week however, when he unveiled images of what the craft may look like.  The images were created by artist Mark Rademaker, who has based them upon White’s designs. They show a technologically detailed spacecraft, which took more than 1,600 hours to complete.

Matthew Jeffries' 1965 sketch of the Enterprise from Star Trek

Matthew Jeffries’ sketch of the Enterprise from Star Trek

Last November in Phoenix, US at the SpaceVision 2013 Space Conference, White discussed his design, the concepts, and the progress that’s been made in warp-drive development. The idea of a “space warp,” is a loophole in the theory of general relativity, which would allow for colossal distances to be travelled quickly, thereby reducing the travel time from thousands of years to just days.

During his speech, White described space warps as distant galaxies, which can bend light around them. The idea works on a principle of bending space in front of and behind a spacecraft. This would theoretically allow for the empty space behind the spacecraft to expand.  The result would both push and pull it forward simultaneously.

White said at the conference, “There’s no speed limit on the expansion and contraction of space…You can actually find a way to get around what I like to call the 11th commandment: Thou shall not exceed the speed of light.”

Obviously the technology to create an FTL spacecraft or the warp drive itself, dose not exist as yet. But the artistic renderings Rademaker created may potentially be a model for the future.  White says he drew from Matthew Jeffries’ 1965 sketches of the starship ‘Enterprise’ from “Star Trek,” in his design, as he says parts of that ship were mathematically accurate.  He worked alongside Rademaker and graphic designer Mike Okuda to update the mathematics and produce what he believes to be a viable spacecraft.

[Image via rt]