(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers from the US, China and the Netherlands have developed a new approach to estimate the timing of possible manned space flights to the outer solar system.
According to their calculations, humanity should reach the Saturn system by 2153. An article about this is published on the site of electronic preprints.
To understand when people will be able to conquer the remote parts of the solar system, the authors track two main parameters – distance and time. In this case, this is the maximum distance from the Earth that manned missions have traveled, and the time since the beginning of the space race in 1957, when not a single person has left the Earth.
In 1969, people first reached the Moon, located at a distance of 0.0026 AU from the Earth. The next step is to explore Mars. Given the launch windows, the authors of the article expect the arrival of people on this planet in 2038, then, most likely, the NASA Artemis program will be implemented.
However, given the history of delays in human space exploration programs, this may be delayed until 2048. Using this starting point, the researchers also considered the “delayed” schedule for the rest of the stages of space expansion.
Next, two more parameters are introduced – the NASA budget and the level of development of relevant technologies.
Although there has been a lot of recent attention to private space programs, public funding remains the backbone of the space economy, and in any case, using the NASA budget as a variable in the equation reveals a relatively simple linear relationship between time and budget without adjusting for inflation.
The pace of technological progress is harder to estimate, but the authors based their simulations on the number of papers published each year that mention deep space exploration. This parameter grows exponentially over time, reaching a recent maximum of almost 2,000 articles per year.
As a result, the combination of linear and exponential dependencies leads to an equation that can be solved by substituting data on distances from the Earth, the start time of the space race, the time of the first landing of the Apollo crew on the Moon, and the hypothetical time of landing on Mars.
In this model, it turns out that humanity can reach the asteroid belt in 2073; Jupiter systems – in 2103; and, finally, Saturn – at best in 2132.
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