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Q & A: How long to go from Earth to Proxima Centauri?

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Most recent answer: 08/09/2010
Folks: How long would it take to go from Earth to Proxima Centauri, a distance of about 2.5 x 10 to the 13th miles (25,000,000,000,000) at sub-light, attainable speeds? The primary assumtion in that people and creatures need a 1 gravity well (or 1 gee) to live in or will eventually deteriorate. We would want to accelerate at 1 gravity up to about 0.7 cee, hold that as short of a time as needed, then decelerate (again) at 1 gravity for the slow down. How long to reach Proxima Centauri? Thanks. . . .
- Robert Holland (age 59)
Wheat Ridge Colorado, US
Dear Robert,
This is a question that depends on several variables you have not specified, for example: 
1. Are you talking about the elapsed time on your watch or the elapsed time on your mother's watch who will be waiting for your return?  They will be different.
2. How much fuel and what type of engine do you have? 
3. As you have already noted, how many g's you are willing to withstand?

There are several relativistic Time-Travel calculators out there on the web that you can use to fine tune your question:

The first site gives approximately 11.5 and 14.3 years for your and your mother's times respectively.  These times are for very efficient photon rockets, not available at your local hardware store.

Good Luck and bon voyage. 


(published on 08/09/2010)

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