Articles de termes sélectionnés du cours Science 101 "Soucoupes volantes" du Dr. Thornton Page
Trimestre d'Automne, 1967.

Livret d'exemple.

Couverture du livret

Ce pamphlet reproduit 3 articles de terme préparés par des étudiants du cours Science 101 X, Soucoupes volantes durant le semestre d'automne 1967. 47 autres étudiants ont préparé des articles semblables, certains aussi bons, sur des sujets liés (planètes, sondes spatiales, surface de la Lune, météores ; comètes, aurores, vie sur d'autres mondes, historique des soucoupes volantes, identification des objets volants, et signalements d'ovnis spécifiques).

Thornton Page, professeur d'astronomie.

Eric Kintner, Graduate Assistant

Université Wesleyan
Middletown, Connecticut 06457

Cosmopolitique : problèmes et prospects des relations humaines dans l'espace

Ronald J. Schellhardt.

Une note d'introduction

L'exploration de l'espace sera accomplie par les êtres humains. Des sondes spatiales ont été envoyées avant les hommes vers d'autres mondes, mais le jour approche où des membres de la race humaine mettront le pied sur les voisins de la Terre dans le système solaire.

Comme il le fait et se prépare à le faire, l'homme doit prendre en considération les difficultés de l'exploration spatiale posées par sa propre nature. Sa nature psychologique a fait de l'espace une arêne de compétition et, peut-être, de guerre ; sa nature biologiquel nécessite qu'il exporte littéralement son environnement naturel vers d'autres mondes.

Les développements sociaux et les institutions physiques que les besoins de l'homme pourraient créer à mesure qu'il explore le système solaire sont le sujet de cet article, classé par cet étudiant comme la science de la "cosmopolitique" — l'extension à l'espace du domaine géopolitique. Etant donné l'espace attribué à cet article et les limitations de la connaissance humaine (en particulier dans le cas de l'auteur), aucun plan détaillé de l'avancée de la société humaine ne peut être fourni ; cependant, les problèmes et perspectives seront discutées.

Cet étudiant est redevable à Nickolaus Leggett '68, dont la suggestion et même la donation de matériel de lecture s'est révélée inestimable. Il doit également remercier M. Harry N. Traugott de Livingston, dans le New Jersey, qui a recommandé et fourni l'excellent livre The Case for Going to the Moon de Neil Ruzic.

I. Problèmes de la compétition internationale, 1957 - ?

Depuis les expérimentations de fusées du Dr. Robert Goddard jusqu'au développement allemand du missile V-2 et aux ballons et haute altitude et lancers de fusées de la décade suivant la 2nde guerre mondiale, l'homme du 20ème siècle a progressivement étendu sa capacité technologique à voyager au-delà de l'atmosphère de la Terre pour aller dans l'espace. Le , cependant, la technologie humaine a scored a decisive breakthrough — and the international competition in the area of space exploration, generally known as "The Space Race", was sparked.

For it was on October 4, 1957, that the Soviet Union succeeded in orbiting an artificial satellite, Sputnik I, about the earth. The American reaction to the Soviet achievement was expressed by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles in a January 16, 1958 speech to the National Press Club in Washington (as cited in Spacepower by Donald Cox and Michael Stoiko, John C. Winston, Philadelphia, 1958, on Page 89). Secretary of State Dulles declared in part:

"The launching of an earth satellite by the Soviets. . . jolted the American people and produced a reaction which was healthy, the kind of reaction that has, in the past, served freedom well. A wave of mortification, anger and fresh determination swept the country. Out of that mood is coming a more serious appraisal of the struggle in which we are engaged, and an increasing willingness to make the kind of efforts and sacrifices needed to win the struggle."

Thus was the struggle joined. The Soviets placed a dog, Laika, in orbit, and the Americans, following their failure to launch Vanguard I in December of 1957, orbited a satellite of their own on January 31, 1958.

The race continued into the 1960's. The Soviets orbited a human being, Major Yuri Gagarin, in April of 1961, overshadowing the suborbital flight of Colonel John Glenn by more than ten months. The Soviet Union was also the first nation to orbit two manned space vehicles simultaneously and to orbit two cosmonauts within the same capsule. Although the Mariner IV probe of Mars and the Surveyor lunar landing were substantial American successes, the landing of a Soviet craft upon the surface or Venus in late 1967 rivaled Surveyor V in significance and indicated growing Soviet proficiency in "deep space" technology.

Yet American commitment continues (to the extent of five billion dollars per fiscal year since 1965, according to U.S. News and World Report, November 6, 1967) despite a Soviet edge in what might be termed "space spectaculars". One reason, as voiced by Professor Thornton L. Page of Wesleyan University to one of his classes, is that "Russia does it first, and America does it best", a statement reflecting the view that American technology in space is more sophisticated and efficient that its Soviet counterpart. Another reason is that neither space power has yet perfected the booster power required for a manned lunar journey and return, although the success of America's Saturn V rocket in November of 1967 significantly enhances American ability in this field.

Nevertheless, perhaps the major reason for continued American commitment to rapid space exploration is the conviction that no acceptable alternative exists. As President Kennedy stated in proposing Project Apollo to Congress in May of 1961, America cannot afford to ignore "the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take." (quoted in The New York Times publication America's Race for the Moon, Random House, New York, 1962, p. 149.)

Since 1961, however, many American leaders have come to believe that mare may be at stake in "The Space Race" than national prestige - and that the area known as "near space", beyond the bulk of the earth's atmosphere but within several hundred miles of the earth's surface, may be far more crucial than the moon militarily.

Given present military technology ( and that conceivable in the near future), the establishment of a military base upon the moon would impose fantastic financial burdens upon the nation involved while achieving no military advantage. Missiles fired from Luna would require several days to reach terrestrial targets, might be detected (if launched en masse, as to achieve strategic results they would have to be) by bases of other nations colonizing the moon or even (perhaps) by Sentinel satellites orbiting the moon as they currently orbit the earth, and would be less accurate (although, due to lower lunar gravity, their warheads could be much larger) than terrestrial ICBMs. Furthermore, the chief advantage of undetected lunar missiles would be low warning time, an advantage possible through the deployment of clandestine nuclear weapons in orbit.

Indeed, Secretary of Defense McNamara revealed on November 3, 1967 that the Soviets appeared to be designing a "Fractional Orbital Bombing System: (FOBS). In effect, the Soviet orbital bomb envisioned by Secretary McNamara would be an ICBM launched into orbit and sent earthward before completion of its orbit to strike a target elsewhere on the planet. Since such an orbital ICBM could orbit over the South Pole, thereby circumventing the northern BMEWS detection system of the United States, FOBS warheads could impact with as little as three minutes' warning.

Secretary McNamara hastened to add that an "Over the Horizon" radar network would allow the United States as early as 1968 to detect launchings of missiles in their homeland itself, thereby vastly increasing the warning time available. The danger remained, however, that nuclear weapons might be secretly stationed in permanent orbit among the more than one thousand objects currently extant in near space. The declaration of Hall Syndicate columnist Paul Scott on November 25, 1967 that the Soviets appeared to be developing Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) warhead for orbital vehicles heightened apprehension that a "first strike" from space might one day be contemplated by Soviet leaders.

Secretary McNamara's announcement of September 18, 1967 that the United States would construct a "thin" Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) defense system brought demands (from influential Democrats such as Senators Pastore and Jackson as well as such Republicans as John Tower and Richard Nixon) that a "heavy" ABM system capable of blunting a Soviet nuclear assault (at a cost of forty billion dollars) be built. In November came the news that the U.S. was perfecting a "spectrum bomb", which when exploded at a high altitude would emit a virtual spectrum of pure radiation capable of melting and otherwise neutralizing entire fleets of incoming warheads (New York Times, November 16, 1967) - and presumably the Soviets, whose lead in high-altitude nuclear technology had been frozen by the test ban treaty of 1963, had already developed the "spectrum bomb" and might be deploying it in their own ABM system, "already well toward completion due to an earlier start than that of the United States.

The announcement at the close of 1967 -that the United States was developing a "space bus" (or traveling MIRV missile able to deliver warheads to targets hundreds of miles apart) to be fired by American submarines (New York Times, December 14, 1967) substantiated the growing fear that, in the words of an earlier New York Times editorial (November 5, 1967), "the arms race is accelerating into near space.

Balanced against the prospect of warfare in near space are the United Nations space treaties, based upon two General Assembly resolutions of 1962 and signed by both major space powers. The treaties in question specifically prohibit the stationing of mass destructive weapons in orbit or in deep space as well as the annexation of any territory or area in space by a given nation for its own purposes.

The nations of the world - and the Soviet Union and the United States in particular . have in signing the U.N. treaties in question given at least lip service to the extension of international law into space. While both space powers have been developing weapons (both offensive and defensive) for use in near space, no such weapons have (obviously) been actually used. Nevertheless, the treaties involved are deficient in that they contain no inspection clause to determine whether mass destructive weapons are indeed being secretly stored in space for future use.

U. S. News and World Report has noted that the American Manned Orbital Laboratory (MOL) scheduled for placement in orbit in 1970 might be employed to identify and destroy clandestine orbital weapons (November 20, 1967). This student hopes that a United Nations MOL might be enforce the United Nations space treaties.

Perhaps an international inspection or even policing force, established by and representing all the nations of the world, might actually lead to an international space exploration effort.

Such an international space program could serve several functions. It would substantially reduce the costs of space exploration by preventing duplication of effort and achievement. It would greatly enhance the efficiency and safety factors involved in space flight by allowing each nation to exchange its knowledge with its counterpart (or, a bit farther in the future counterparts). For example, the death by fire of three American astronauts in 1967 has been traced to the high oxygen content of the capsule atmosphere, a condition which the Soviet's larger booster power enabled them to avoid since their rockets could launch heavier gases as well; on the other hand, the death of a Soviet cosmonaut occurred during re-entry, a stage of orbital flight in which American superiority was acknowledged.

Finally, but most significantly, such a program would encourage the lessening of tensions on earth - and thus hopefully reduce the possibility that the awesome weapons of near space might someday be armed and deployed. The program would face obstacles, such as the security of the nations involved and the lack at present of a coordinating international organization, but such problems would be political rather than scientific.

The United States has proposed a co-operative space program to the Soviets, but has never received an affirmative response. If international pressure can be applied to a great enough extent to force Soviet cooperation, if safeguards against espionage can be formulated, and if viable international institutions can be created, then the human exploration of space may become a truly human adventure - embracing all of mankind.

II. Problèmes de la société humaine

If man through law surmounts the problems of his own aggressiveness , his exploration of the universe still faces the obstacles of a new and alien environment.

His first problem may well be that of reaching his destination in the first place. Food and water must be provided; human wastes must be considered. Of coarse, a terrestrial atmosphere must be maintained for the space travelers.

Another problem which arises is that of gravity - or rather lack of it. Life under zero gravity conditions would not only be disconcerting psychologically, but would not be without biological effects either. Experiments in "bio-satellites", containing plant and insect life subjected to low gravity conditions, indicate that such conditions greatly stimulate growth, on the part of both the organisms themselves and their cells (Hartford Courant, October 18, 1967). As a result, space travelers might over a period of time find themselves increasingly susceptible to cancer, leukemia and other malignant biological malfunctions.

As a result, future voyagers between worlds might be obligated to deliberately slow their cell growth and metabolic rates through drugs during the journey. Artificial gravity could be created by spinning, the spacecraft in its trajectory, although duplicating the gravitational pull of the earth itself might not be possible in the foreseeable future.

As for food and water, Robert Plumb (1962) [1] has cited Air Force experiments in simulated space flight. Food, although concentrated and pre-cooked, was stored from the onset of-the "space flight", while drinking water could be produced through purification of recycled urine, wash water, and water vapor condensed from the cabin atmosphere. The Air Force studies also failed to discover any evidence of friction between members of the "crew", even after long periods (although the situation might alter radically during a two year-journey to Mars, for example), nor did life in an artificial atmosphere appear harmful.

This student suggests at this point that in long journeys involving fairly large vehicles cultures of algae or other edible fungus might be maintained within a spacecraft. Not only could such plant-life serve as a source of nutrient, but, also as a source of oxygen for the crew while absorbing excess carbon dioxide.

Once he has reached his destination, man might well wish to colonize if possible. The gravitational pull of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune would be far too great for the human body to withstand, and the atmospheres and temperatures upon such planets would hardly be inviting in any event. Pluto, at the very edge of the solar system, may well be colonizable if bases can be erected in the frozen slush of its atmosphere, which Felix Godwin (1960) [2] suggests might be a source of rocket fuel. Mercury, the closest planet to the sun,alternates as it rotates from extreme heat to intense cold.

For the near future, at least, Mars, Venus, and Earth's own Luna appear to be the likeliest prospects. Recent probes of Venus indicate high temperatures, an inhospitable atmosphere, and little water; colonists would have to live in a wholly artificial environment insulated against heat, with its own resources, and protected against a heavier atmospheric pressure. Mariner IV has shown Mars to be very similar to the moon, with an atmosphere nearly as thin (if, indeed, a lunar atmosphere exists at all) and low temperatures (although probably not as low as lunar cold). Nevertheless, as Professor Page (1967) [3] has noted, both turtles and bacteria have been found able to exist in "Mars Jars" simulating the thin atmosphere, low temperatures, and high ultra-violet radiation of that planet - so Martian agriculture and even husbandry may conceivably be possible for colonists.

According to J.W.E.H. Sholto Douglas (1956) [4] agriculture may even be possible upon the moon. Douglas envisions plants nurtured in domes, provided with artificial sunlight and an artificial atmosphere, and growing in the lunar topsoil, fertilized by chemicals. Douglas calls the process hydroponic farming and cites its success in earthly laboratories. Since Surveyor V indicates that no thick dust layer shrouds the lunar surface, Douglas' proposal appears feasible on the moon as well as elsewhere.

Marcus O'Day (1958) [5] theorizes that solar power might be employed to support a lunar colony and hypothesizes that water may exist beneath the lunar surface. Neil Ruzic (1965) [6] prefers to establish lunar nuclear plants, employing their power to "launch" rockets earthward without consumption of fuel, an achievement possible (theoretically) in the low lunar gravity.

In addition, Professor Page (1967) [7] has reported the finding of Surveyor V that meteoric bombardment or the lunar surface is less than had been previously believed. Construction of domes and/or other structures upon the moon may therefore be more feasible, although "bumpers" of the type proposed by Dr. Fred L. Whipple of Harvard (1946) [8] for interplanetary travel would undoubtedly be provided as a matter of course.

It is more difficult to visualize Martian, Venison, or Plutonian colonization than colonization of earth's satellite. Yet the tentative colonization proposals for the moon ere the result or greater knowledge of earth's nearer neighbor. Once initial probes (manned and otherwise) have thoroughly (or at least substantially) probed more distant worlds, human minds will begin to discover means by which human beings can live upon such worlds.

Considering the farther future, one might extrapolate that distinct human institutions might develop to meet the challenges of interplanetary exploration. Presently the prohibitive expenses of early (that is, twentieth century) space travel and exploration would force governments to assume the major if not entire responsibility for such efforts. However, as the expense of interplanetary flight begins to decrease, the foothold of private enterprise in space (as in the case or the COMSAT Corporation) is likely to grow rapidly.

Arthur C. Clarke (1967) [9] notes that the cost of launching a payload into space has been reduced from one million to one thousand dollars per pound since the dawn of the Space Age, and has himself suggested (1961) [10] that lunar flight costs could be reduced by establishing fuel deposits in lunar orbit rather than on the lunar surface. General Electric's astronautical consultant Dandridge M. Cole (cited by Neil P. Ruzic in The Case for Going to the Moon, G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1965, p. 70) has projected that the cost per pound of an earth-to-moon flight will drop from five thousand to thirty dollars by 1980.

Neil Ruzic (1967) [11] foresees lunar mining to meet the needs of an earth swiftly exhausting its own natural resources and envisions vacuum manufacturing as well - and Ruzic is editor of the magazine Industrial Research. Donald Douglas, Jr. (in Arthur Clarke's The Coming of the Space Age, Meredith, New York, 1967, pp. 130-35), President of Douglas Aircraft, predicts commercial space flight. It is not beyond this student's imagination to envisage twenty-first century colonies built for profit by interplanetary developers.

Yet the planetary colonies will remain autonomous, separated not merely by space but by time. Technological advancement, it seems likely, will shorten the time required to reach other worlds, but even at the speed of light a gap remains. Communication between Luna and Terra (even with the three second time lag between statement and response) may be feasible on a fairly wide basis; communication between Mars and Terra (with a time lag measured in minutes) may be tolerable; communication between Pluto (or even, for example, a Jovian satellite) and Terra might be rendered as a practical matter impossible by a time lag of hours. Communication between interstellar colonies would of course be inconceivable - with a time lag measured in years.

Biological factors may be at work also. Generation after generation living upon a given planet might well produce a different type of being, as suggested by Arthur C. Clarke in his novel Earthlight (Ballantine, New York, 1955). A fifth generation Martian colonist might actually be physically as well as psychologically different from his earthly counterparts.

III. L'Univers et la condition humaine

How, then, does it appear that space is likely to affect man? Furthermore, how is man likely to affect space?

Scientifically, the technological "fallout" of advancing space technology is almost certain to continue to spark equally significant advances in other branches of science. Economically, it seems probable that space will challenge the most imaginative businessmen and government planners to create entire new fields of enterprise, while at the same time products of other planets may conceivably stimulate the economy of earthly societies. Sociologically and politically, the exploration of space may well unify man or, alternatively, open new avenues and motivations of national rivalries. Spiritually, the fulfillment of a dream that has existed since the earliest human times might well inspire man to reach new levels of creativity, philosophy, and aesthetics.

Perhaps realization of the vastness of the universe and of the awkwardness of man in an alien environment might lead to a deepened sense of humility. He may be more conscious of littering his universe (as he has already to some extent clogged near space with over one thousand objects) and of polluting his new home planets (as he has polluted his own). He may find ultimately that he has not conquered space, but space him, as scattered cultures born of terrestrial seed blossom thoughout space.

As was noted before, the exploration of space will be accomplished by human beings. One can only hope that the new adventure upon which man is embarking will render him worthier of declaring: "I am a man."


  1. Plumb, Robert. "Perils of the Abyss," "America's Race for the Moon", edited by Walter Sullivan, Random House, New York, 1962. Pp. 73-6.
  2. Godwin, Felix. "Exploration of the Solar System", Plenum, New York, 1960. P. 160.
  3. Remarks to his Science 101 class.
  4. Douglas, J.W.E.H. Sholto. "Farming on the Moon," "Man and the Moon", edited by Robert S. Richardson, World, Cleveland, 1961. Pp. 142-52.
  5. O'Day, Marcus. "Power for a Lunar Colony", "Man and the Moon", edited by Robert S. Richardson, World, Cleveland, 1961. Pp. 135-40.
  6. Ruzic, Neil."The Case for Going to the Moon", G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1965. Chapter 3.
  7. Remarks to his Science 101 class.
  8. Whipple, Dr. Fred L. "Meteorites and Space Travel", "Wanderers in the Sky", edited by Thornton L. Page, MacMillan, New York, 1965.. Pp. 206-07.
  9. Clarke,Arthur C. "The Coming of the Space Age", Meredith, New York, 1967. P. 125.
  10. Clarke, Arthur C. "The Earth-Moon Journey", "Man and the Moon", edited by Robert S. Richardson, World, Cleveland, 1960. Pp. 104-11.
  11. Ruzic, Neil. "The Case for Going to the Moon", G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1965. Chapters 3-4.


The author is greatly indebted to the news media which has supplied information only recently available and therefore not present in any books published at this time.

(In a critique of this paper, Ramon diRenna wrote:

...Many questions arise concerning space probing: How will man live in space? What will he do for a learning process? How will he be affected psychologically? medically? Will he be able to establish permanent colonies in space? How will he react to the change in his environment over a long period of time? and the most important question of all: Will man be able to get along with other people and form an effective political ruling force under the new and rigorous conditions of space habitation? A few of these questions are touched upon, but none of them are answered to my satisfaction (and the last one, which is actually the interrogative form of the paper's title, is not touched upon at all.) In his conclusion, the author does not even mention human relations in space.

The paper could be made to be much more effective by using a model space colony as an example to illustrate the problems of human relations in space. In this way, Schellhardt could discuss and explain each problem as it arose in the colony...)

Les implications des soucoupes volantes pour la théoologie

Par William Madden.

Dans le livre à succès de Frank Edwards Flying Saucers - Serious Business l'auteur cite certains cas classiques (dans un chapitre du même titre) d'observations d'ovnis. En guise d'introduction, je souhaiterais présenter plusieurs de ces cas.

Le 1er cas traite d'un objet solide, d'apparence métallique de près de 30 pieds de diamètre ayant un banc de 20 ou 30 projecteurs brillants jaunes ou oranges sous une plate-forme circulaire avec 3 pieds, apparemment un train d'atterrissage sous forme de tripode. L'objet fut vu en train de chercher un point d'atterrissage et, atténuant sa lumière, finit par toucher le sol et rester immobile. Au bout d'une période de 30 mn il commença à s'élever et lorsqu'il atteignit une altitude de 300 pieds, accéléra rapidement en direction horizontale et disparût.

Un 2nd signalement concerne la découverte accidentelle d'un objet en forme de disque couleur cuivre, encore une fois d'environ 30 pieds de diamètre, avec un dôme bas, rond et luisant. Cet appareil fut trouver reposant sur une autoroute près de Pretoria, en Afrique du Sud. 10 s après que la voiture de police qui arriva dessus se soit arrêtée, l'objet s'éleva rapidement sur 2 échappements de flammes depuis des tubes situés sur son côté inférieur et disparût. La chaleur de ces souffles détruisit la section de route sur laquelle l'objet s'était installé et une enquête ultérieure prouva que l'asphalt avait été brisé par un poids très lourd.

Un 3ème incident eut lieu à un aéroport près de Marseilles, en France. L'objet observé était conique aux 2 extrêmités, d'environ 15 pieds de long et 3 pieds d'épaisseur au centre, et avait une demi-douzaine de fenêtres luisant avec une lumière jaune douce. L'appareil fut vu glisser depuis un endroit entre 2 hangars et venir reposer sur une piste. Lorsqu'il fut approché, il émit une gerbe d'étincelles et sauta dans l'air, où il fonça au loin à une altitude extrêmement basse.

J'ai choisi ces 3 incidents en particulier parce qu'il existe une possibilité distincte de vérité dans chaque cas. Les témoins de ces observations incluent 1 pilote d'avion vétéran, un ingénieur, 2 officiers de police et 1 officier des douanes — des hommes que nous créditerions normalement d'une bonne dose d'intelligence et de responsibilité. Mon but dans la considération de ces exemples n'étant pas de présenter une preuve définie de l'existence des soucoupes volantes, mais plutôt de montrer que l'existence de tels phénomènes n'est pas entièrement au-delà de la gamme des possibilités. Si l'on écarte le problème des soucoupes volantes comme étant le produit de l'imagination, l'hallucination ou une identité mal comprise alors les questions considérées dans la discussion qui suit ne sembleront pas pertinentes. Cependant, si l'on accepte la possibilité de l'existence des soucoupes volantes, on doit nécessairement accepter que ces objets sont le produit d'une connaissance technologique sophistiquée et par conséquent qu'il existe des êtres extraterrestres possédant un intellect au moins égal à, et en toute probabilité plus grand que le nôtre. De nombreux autres points peuvent être trouvés pour soutenir la possibilité d'extraterrestres intelligents, comme la découverte de signaux radio venus de l'espace, considérés par certains scientifiques comme étant des messages de galaxies éloignées, et la loi des moyennes, qui semblerait indiquer que le vaste univers est habité par plus de 1 race d'être intelligents.

Une discussion de ces 2 points peut être trouvée dans The New Intelligent Man's Guide to Science de Isaac Asimov. Ils sont inclus dans une section du chapitre 12 intitulée "Vie dans d'autres mondes". Sur le sujet de la loi des moyennes, l'auteur cite la recherche du scientifique de l'espace américain, Stephen H. Dole. Même en se limitant lui-même à une considération de la possibilité que la vie humaine existe dans d'autres systèmes solaires, Dole estime qu'il existe 17 milliards d'étoiles dans notre galaxie capables de soutenir une telle vie (les étoiles de classes spectrales F2 à K1). Bien que chacune de ces étoiles adaptées puisse ne pas être nécessairement le centre de planètes habitables, il existe toujours probablement quelques 600 millions de planètes habitables dans notre galaxie. Cela signifierait qu'il y a 1 planète habitable par 80 000 années-lumières cubiques (ou que la planète habitable la plus proche est approximativement à 27 années-lumières de distance et que 50 existent à moins de 100 années-lumières de la Terre). Dole estime de plus que puisque la vie intelligente a existé pendant 1/2000ème du temps ou notre planète a possédé la vie, 1 planète sur 2000 possédant la vie possède une vie intelligente. Cela autoriserait jusqu'à 320 000 intelligences dans notre galaxie.

As for radio signals, the author cites the discovery by a team of Anglo-American astronomers of signals from sources called CTA-21 (in the constellation Aries) and CTA-102 (in the constellation Pegasus). These signals had wavelengths of ten to fifty centimeters, well beyond the eight to fifty centimeter range estimated necessary for interstellar communication and well beyond the intensity of anything we are able to produce.

In the face of evidence of the above type, the case for the existence of flying saucers can be seen as more than the superstitious speculation of fertile but irresponsible and illogical imaginations. My discussion will deal with the theological implications or the existence of such extraterrestrial spacecraft and consequently of the existence of intelligent life beyond that found on our planet. I believe that I can most fruitfully discuss these implications in terms of several problems which arise for traditional Christianity since I am, having studied in a Roman Catholic background, most familiar with the side of theological thought.

One basic tenet of Christianity is the belief that at some point in the evolution of man this creature was endowed with a quality called the soul. This quality is supposed to be the factor which distinguishes man from the rest of living matter on the earth. At least three main characteristics of this distinguishing quality can be discussed. The first is intellect or the ability to reason and think logically. This first characteristic is closely related to the second, which is the possession of a conscience. the ability to perceive the difference between good and evil. The third notable characteristic is the fact that human being have certain emotions, the most obvious being that of love (as opposed to animal affection and longing). One might also include here qualities such as the emotions of hate and revenge and man's ability to have a sense of humor. (This last also falls in certain ways under the first characteristic mentioned.) These three characteristics can provide a fairly accurate definition of the soul as it is commonly considered. However, such a definition could prove, as will be shown, rather limited in that it applies exclusively to human beings; in fact, the terms "soul" and "human being" many times are practically equated (even to the point that we often hear an unfortunate human being referred to as "some poor soul").

When a Christian admits that flying saucers may exist he has implied, theologically, a great deal more than he may immediately be aware of. For without in any way altering the above definition of soul, we can see that the technology involved in manufacturing such spacecraft proves that at least one basic characteristic of this quality is present in its builders, that is, the intellect of these extraterrestrial scientists. That the other factors which comprise this quality of soul may also be possessed by these aliens is quite plausible. Thus we are confronted with the possibility of other worlds whose inhabitants exactly parallel us human beings both physically and spiritually.

Considering extraterrestrials as parallel to us is an extremely limited consideration however. For it is most likely that the flying saucer manufacturers are not physically similar to us at all. Arthur C. Clarke, in a fascinating article entitled "When Earthman and Alien Meet", (in the January 1968 issue of Playboy Magazine) considers several of the infinite varieties of forms which extraterrestrial beings (or E.T.'s as he calls them) could take. These beings might range from anything as conventional as a humanoid (even these would prove no closer to a man physically than a bear or chimpanzee at best) to such rarities as a group of microscopic creatures forming a rational entity only when combined as an intelligent cloud. He discusses the possibility of creatures with separate organs to perform the many functions which we perform with one mouth and beings shaped like sea monsters or insects. Any of these alien forms might be capable of rationality, love, or a sense of beauty. We see therefore that not only could the soul be a quality of extraterrestrial humans but also of almost any other intelligent life form. Furthermore, there may exist life forms with subtle combinations of the characteristics of the possession of a soul. One might discover, for example, a civilization of humans or non-humans similar to that described in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. These creatures may have attained a perfection of technology and yet may lack any sort of emotion. Certainly these creatures could not be easily dismissed as lacking souls when some theologians argue that the undeveloped fetus, babbling idiots or even living, functionless human mutations have souls.

This extension of the concept of soul to include extraterrestrial life forms raises many other interesting problems for traditional Christianity in providing a basis for speculation about the relevance of Christian teaching to alien worlds. One particularly interesting question is the matter of the lack of complete virtue which supposedly accounts for the conflict in human nature between the attraction towards good and the desire for immediate gratification through evil. For Christians, this conflict is basically one between love and giving on the one hand and selfishness and hate on the other. The lack of complete virtue is seen as the result of loss of grace in the soul through sin. The Bible symbolizes the lack of perfection in human nature as the fall of Adam from his perfect state in the Garden of Eden. If the universe contains worlds other than the Earth, inhabited by spiritual as well as physical creatures, beings with souls and therefore, according to Christian teaching, able to "fall from grace", several possibilities present themselves. If "fallen" extraterrestrials exist, they will be necessarily drawn towards evil as well as good. These aliens would therefore be capable of war, selfish ambition for power, deceit, or whatever other forms of evil particularly suited their planet. If other such "fallen" life forms exist, it is possible to imagine the problems of the Earth on a universal scale. The problems of "fallen" humanity could exist in suitable forms in all the galaxies if other worlds are inhabited by "fallen souls". Christian defined evil as well as Christian defined good could exist throughout the universe. However, Christian tradition would also seem to allow at least one other possibility. For if the Biblical snake has not polluted certain worlds, there must also exist "Gardens of Eden" in space. Evil would therefore be confined only to the fallen worlds. C.S. Lewis' Perelandra is based on the hypothesis that evil is by no means a universal fact. Perelandra is an unfallen planet where grace and good have no opposites.

The possibility of Perelandras presents the second problem stemming from the discussion of non-Earth souls. Christianity teaches that the life and crucifixion of Christ were necessary processes for the salvation of fallen mankind. His death, therefore, would have no meaning for the inhabitants of a Perelandra. His crucifixion would immediately be reduced to an event of limited importance for the universe.

Further problems arise in considering the possibility of other fallen planets. Christ is traditionally the savior of mankind. If this is the correct point of view, the salvation process is again seen as a rather limited achievement, relevant only for the Earth. Unless the death of Christ took place many times on many different fallen worlds, an expanded view of the nature of Christ going far beyond the teachings of traditional Christianity would be necessary for Christ to be considered in any way a universally important figure.

Another problem with the nature of Christ becomes evident in the Christian basis for holding that humanity is sanctified. Christ is considered both human and divine; he is God become man. The process through which this is accomplished is known as The Incarnation. The belief in the sanctity of life stems from this act of divinity taking on the nature of its creature. The crux of the problem can be seen in the name of the process itself, for The Incarnation is process in which " the word was God...and the word became flesh..."; Christ is not God become a being with a soul but specifically God become man. The Incarnation is, as Christianity has named and defined it, a limited process. Just as with the salvation process, the concept of God sanctifying human life through Christ, must either be expanded to include all life-forms with souls or prove irrelevant for the universe. For Christianity to be universally applicable, Christ must be God become intelligent cloud as well as God become man.

Many miracles of Christ would seem quite meaningless or unmiraculous to extraterrestrials. Even if one disregards all of the lesser miracles, the greatest miracle, the Resurrection (Christ rising from the dead) might seem unimpressive to certain aliens. For, as Clarke points out in his article, there may be extremely advanced beings whose technology had achieved immortality. Wonders concerning escape from the inevitable become meaningless when the inevitable is destroyed.

The possibility of immortality can be further examined as a problem for traditional Christianity. Christianity, of course, has as its ultimate goal the attainment of heaven. Christ is recorded in the Gospels as saying "My kingdom is not of this world," and the Christian is in effect assured of eternal happiness if he fully enters the spirit of Christianity. For a technically advanced being who can prolong his life indefinitely, a moral philosophy which includes a concept of an afterlife could prove unsatisfying if the perfect eternal state is presented as a type of "reward for virtue". This concept of Christianity is often stressed, however. The concept of a Christian humanism perhaps would be far more relevant for creatures capable of striving for perfection during their physical lives. A final problem with traditional Christianity worth considering is related closely to the problem with the concept of the Incarnation as discussed above. This is the problem of adapting the symbols of Christianity to alien worlds. This problem of course would occur in applying many human institutions in general to novel extraterrestrial civilizations, but it is particularly noteworthy in the case of Christianity, which often uses symbols and ceremony to express the beliefs upon which it is founded. Moreover, if a symbol is valid, often superficial problems with the symbol can stem from a deeper problem with that which is symbolized. An example of this type of problem with symbols is the Consecration, the changing of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, which is an essential point in the major celebration of several Christian religions. In considering this subject we see that it is founded on the premise that human beings are the only beings with a soul. Once again we find the necessity for a change in an aspect of Christianity if it is to remain when faced with possible future discoveries about the universe.

Il est intéressant de noter que Asimov introduit sa discussion sur la vie extraterrestre avec la phrase : Si nous devons accepter le point de vue que la vie nait simplement du fonctionnement des lois physiques et chimiques, il s'ensuit qu'en toute probabilité la vie n'est pas confinée à la Terre. We find implied here the non-existence of God which can probably be considered the essence or the problem which a technologically advancing age presents for all religion. It is trite but true to say that the science fiction of yesterday is the science fact of today. As more discoveries are made about the scientific truth behind phenomena, there seems to be an increasingly slim basis for belief in God, an essential belief for any Christian religion at least. Revision must constantly be made of the most firmly rooted ideas; nothing is absolutely sacred and in our times it is extremely easy to be certain that God also is not only uninvolved, but really dead. I am fairly certain that science in time, can accomplish anything and therefore I am willing to admit the possibility of beings who have developed their own immortality. If hearts can be transplanted on Earth in 1968, why should it be impossible to keep intelligent beings living for at least the time necessary to travel from another star? Furthermore, if science can accomplish anything eventually, how relevant will a concept of God be in centuries to come? These are questions intimately related to any discussion of the implications of the existence of flying saucers.

Although my purpose here is not to present an exhaustive discussion of the possible philosophical solutions to such questions, I think that at least one line of thought which is rather relevant to the issue should be mentioned, that of the Catholic philosopher Teilhard de Chardin. Although his works were for a long time suppressed by conservative forces (or better, perhaps, traditionalists) in the Catholic Church, his thinking may prove to be the most acceptable workable solution to the problem. Chardin would find in the science vs. theology controversy only an apparent dichotomy. He sees science as a tool for discovering increasingly more about the wonder of God. Any knowledge about the nature of any phenomenon in the universe does not disprove the existence of God but rather provides an expanded view of his creative power.

In summary, therefore , we see that the existence of flying saucers would indicate the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life, either human or non-human. Such an existence would apparently present problems for religion, just as any extraordinary scientific discovery does. Traditional Christianity would prove particularly susceptible in the face of the problem of flying saucers. Unless many of its concepts were altered radically, this particular type of religion would most certainly become an irrelevant, human mythology of sorts. Ultimately, however, all religious thought must become truly universally applicable or die with the advance of unlimited technology.


I also discussed my paper with Mr. W. Spurrier of the Wesleyan Department of Religion, and with Mr. Malcolm Gordon, S.J., my twelfth grade English teacher at Loyola School.

(In a critique of this paper, M.W. Kellogg wrote:

......I take exception to the statement on page 11. Madden says that "the discovery of radio signals from space, considered by some scientists to be messages from distant galaxies". He does not name the scientists, and I believe that no signals have yet shown any real reason to think they are from other life.

The paper picks out some particular doctrines of Christian theology and then tells of the effect flying saucers would have on them. The basic tenets that he deals with are: the soul, salvation mankind, the sanctification of humanity, and immortality. These are all major doctrines for which the proof of flying saucers and other life would raise great problems. The paper states the problem and possible solutions to it. I think for the sake of accuracy however, he should have been more specific in stating the doctrines. The general idea as he viewed it was given, but no definition came from any more authoritative source, such the Bible. However, the conclusion he draws (that flying saucers indicate the existence of extraterrestrial life) follows from his facts , and he makes a valid point that religion could survive if it can be flexible.)

Voyage vers les étoiles

Edward T. Swanson


The major point of this paper is to show that travel between the stars encompasses problems of such number and magnitude as to make it impractical if not totally impossible. Today many people ask whether or not "flying saucers" come from another world. Since it is very doubtful that such visitors come from our solar system, the existence of "flying saucers" depends on the possibility of interstellar travel. By investigating the problems involved in traveling to the stars, it is my intent in this paper to show the unlikelihood of such travel. However, the paper is not merely a summation of arguments against interstellar travel; the question will be considered in an open-minded manner, allowing the facts to suggest their own conclusion. Four general areas will be discussed: propulsion, navigation, space hazards, and possible problems facing the travelers. Naturally, in undertaking a topic of this scope and complexity, literally hundreds of potential problems and difficulties for such an expedition cannot be mentioned here. Yet to treat one aspect in isolation would be to lose the purpose of this paper: an examination or the possibility of traveling to other stars. The significance of such an overpowering question is - to me at least - sufficient to warrant this approach.


In discussing the various possible means of propulsion for a trip to the stars, three considerations must be kept in mind: acceleration, velocity, and specific impulse. Acceleration, although normally mentioned in relation to velocity (being the rate of change of velocity with respect to time), is considered here first because of its impact on the others, and because no man, even under carefully controlled conditions, can be subjected to more than about 8 g without permanent injury. Taking into account the far-from-ideal conditions of space travel and the very long periods of acceleration and deceleration in voyaging to another solar system (the entire voyage would be spent in either acceleration or deceleration in a trip to a nearby star), tolerable rates of acceleration would have to be relatively small. Arthur C. Clarke has theorized:

Perhaps one day, when we have learned something about gravitation and the structure of space, we may be able to produce one of the "space drives" so beloved of science-fiction writers. These drives, for the benefit of anyone unacquainted with contemporary mythology, have the great advantage that, since the force they produce acts uniformly on every atom inside the spaceship, accelerations of any magnitude can be produced with no strain on the passengers. Even if the ship were accelerating at a thousand gravities, the occupants would still be weightless.

There is nothing inherently absurd about this idea: in fact, a gravitational field produces precisely this effect. If one were falling freely towards Jupiter, not far outside the planet's atmosphere, one would be accelerating at two and a half gravities yet would be completely weightless. To take an even more extreme case, the very dense dwarf star Sirius B has a surface gravity at least 20,000 times as intense as the Earth's. Falling in such a field, one would be accelerating more rapidly than a shell while it was being fired from a gun, but there would be no feeling of strain whatsoever.

If we can ever generate the equivalent of a controlled gravitational field we shall certainly have a very effective drive for space ships - one which, combined with an appropriate source of energy, might enable speeds near that of light to be reached after relatively brief periods of acceleration.

However, for the present, at least, acceleration remains one of the key stumbling-blocks to interstellar travel. Its implications will be discussed further when the time factor for such a journey is considered.

Velocity (the time rate of change of position) is an essential factor in determining what form of propulsion to use in attempting to reach the stars. Unless the spacecraft were able to attain very high velocities, any voyage to the stars would take a very considerable amount of time. Aside from the effect upon the occupants, problems such as sufficient fuel, oxygen, food and water, and the increased possibility of mechanical and electrical failures, would tend to discourage a journey of such length. This problem can perhaps be visualized more clearly with the insertion of the following table of minimum launch velocities, with transit times, to reach the planets of our own solar system. [3]

Planète Vitesse minimale de lancement (pieds/s) Temps de transit
110 jours
Vénus 38000 150 jours
Mars 38000 260 jours
Jupiter 46000 2,7 ans
Saturne 49000 6 ans
Uranus 51000 16 ans
Neptune 52000 31 ans
Pluton 53000 46 ans

Thus, whatever propulsion system used will probably have to produce a very high velocity (unless one envisions a many-generation voyage).

The final consideration to be mentioned before coming to the actual discussion of various propulsion systems is specific impulse. Specific impulse is simply the pounds of thrust per second for each pound of fuel consumed, expressed in seconds. Thus, fuels can be compared as to velocity achievable and the amount of fuel consumed using merely their specific impulse. Since both high velocity and minimal fuel consumption are desirable for interstellar travel, a high specific impulse is necessary.

Turning now to possible propulsion systems, the first to consider is liquid propellants. Super-high energy bi-propellants such as fluorine hydrogen, fluorine-ammonia, ozone-hydrogen, and fluorine-diborane deliver a specific impulse of from 300 to 385 seconds. The combination of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen gives a specific impulse of around 450 seconds. However, for voyages to other stars much higher specific impulses are desirable, A problem with liquid propellants is that they are often bulky — as in the case of liquid hydrogen. This means increased weight for the container and shielding. Some liquid fuels with high specific impulses are either inadequate as coolants for the walls of the thrust-chamber or highly unstable. The availability of the fuel must be considered also, since a tremendous amount would be needed for a journey to another star. It must be remembered too that most liquid propellants are corrosive, flammable, or toxic. Thus, primarily due to inadequate specific impulse, but also other considerations, liquid propellants would not be suitable for a voyage to another solar system.

Two possible liquid propellants should — due to their nature — be considered apart from the other liquid propellants. These are the use of monatomic hydrogen or hyzone. J. Humphries has this to say about these rather unique possibilities:

"Another possibility is the use of monatomic hydrogen. When this reassociates into the normal molecular form a great deal of energy is released - about ten times the amount available from a conventional propellant combination. By using this reassociation energy specific thrusts of up to about 1,700 seconds could be obtained at a chamber pressure of 400 lb. per square inch - but at a temperature of almost 10,000 degrees centigrade: By diluting the atomic hydrogen with molecular hydrogen this temperature could be reduced to a more moderate figure. For example, at 20 percent concentration a temperature of about 2,400 degrees centigrade and specific thrust of about 1,000 seconds would be attained. Unfortunately, monatomic hydrogen is exceptionally unstable and when produced, as in the atomic hydrogen torch, has a life of a few microseconds only. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that, by the use of very low temperatures for example, a stable solution of monatomic hydrogen may be produced. Its application is, however, liable to be very hazardous, and it may be a better proposition to carry liquid molecular hydrogen and to produce the atomic form as required by means of an electrical discharge...

"Further theoretical possibilities lie in the use of hyzone (H3) a molecule analogous to ozone, or metastable molecules of helium with hydrogen or oxygen. None of these molecules has yet been produced but, if it proves possible to produce them, they would on decomposition give very high specific thrusts." [4]

As is readily apparent, both systems contain many problems and "if's". Neither can be considered a solution to the propulsion problem at present.

Solid propellants are the second half of the "conventional propellants". It should suffice to say that solid propellants simply will not do; their major drawback is that they once again produce insufficient specific impulse, and the more energetic solids often require carefully controlled storage conditions as well as handling. Recently there has been careful consideration of liquid-solid propellant combinations. Although offering greater specific impulse, the cost diverting massive research from present sectors to this area and the inadequate increase in specific impulse make this possibility also useless for travel to the stars.

Another possible propulsion system presently being developed is nuclear. It would seem very unwise — if not indeed impossible — to harness the direct ejection of particles resulting from a nuclear reaction. Although such a feat would produce a specific impulse of about 1 000 000 s, it would be extremely difficult to direct a jet of these particles. The truly fundamental problem, however, is excess heat produced would evaporate the rocket. It would be similar to — indeed, but another name for — trying to regulate a nuclear explosion. Another possibility is using the nuclear reactor simply to replace the chemical reaction of conventional propulsion systems in heating a jet of gas for propulsion. Certain problems arise in this approach however. The nuclear pile must have a higher temperature than the gas being heated, naturally. But uranium oxide melts at 2176 degrees centigrade, so the temperature of the jet of gas must be lower than this. If 1500 °C were permissible, then the specific impulse produced would be only 400 to 600 s. The only way to increase the temperature is to use a gaseous reactor, in which the reactor materials are gaseous within the actual chamber. The center could attain higher temperatures than the side, which would be cooled. The gaseous pile would be continuously ejected, making it very wasteful and in need of certain minimum size chamber for the fuel and working fluid. Therefore, the above two types of nuclear propulsion, although potentially able to produce very high specific impulse, each contain certain inherent difficulties.

There is a third possible use for the nuclear reactor, converting the nuclear energy into electricity. This would be used as part of an ion propulsion system. In an ion propulsion system the fuel is actually a metal, usually mercury or cesium. The molecules of the fuel, known as the propellant, are then given an electric charge — ionized. This can be accomplished by passing the propellant over heated metal grids. It is them possible to accelerate the ions through a nozzle to speeds approaching that of light. Such an ion engine has a very good performance, with estimated specific impulse as high as 20,000 seconds! Unfortunately, the weight of the power-generating equipment needed to produce the necessary electric power is a major obstacle. Even with nuclear power to produce the energy, electrical generators would still be needed unless direct conversion to electrical energy could become practical. [5] In other words, the ion engine cannot produce sufficient acceleration. Perhaps this problem will be solved in the future.

Today a nuclear reactor converts only a small fraction of the matter into energy. With nearly a total conversion into energy the necessary thrust for an adequate acceleration could be achieved. Though not answering the immediate question of a propulsion system for reaching the stars, the ion engine is the most promising system for the future.

An essential part of any discussion of propulsion systems for interstellar flights is the time factor. The propulsion system used must be able to produce an adequate acceleration and a high velocity. A very high velocity becomes increasingly important as we consider more distant stars. Unless some method is found to enable man to withstand acceleration of several g's over long periods of time (years), unless such acceleration could be achieved, and unless velocities approaching the speed of light could also be achieved, interstellar voyages in man's lifetime will be virtually impossible. A voyage to the nearest star, Proxima Centauri- 4 1/2 light years away - would, even if the craft were able to accelerate to as much as 98% of the speed of light in a relatively short amount of time, take 5 years one way; the travelers would be gone for at least a decade even under the most ideal conditions (which can very probably never be achieved). If one further introduces the fact that any interstellar journeys would be in search of other planetary systems, then — aside from the perhaps hundreds of years consumed in sending probes to scout nearby suns before undertaking a manned journey — stars further than Proxima Centauri would be chosen as targets, thus aggravating an already acute problem of time. Not even relativity's "time contraction" (as a body approaches the speed of light time slows down for the occupants) offers any real escape from the time problem. The reason for this is that the time-contraction doesn't become significant until speeds greater than half the speed of light are reached — over 300 000 000 miles/h. Once again, some means to allow man to withstand the rapid acceleration is needed as well as some propulsion system able to give both rapid acceleration and velocities approaching that of light would be necessary. Arthur C. Clarke gives the example of a spacecraft which by converting 90% of its mass into radiation reaches a speed equal to 98% that of light. Leaving the earth at an acceleration of 2 g's, it would appear to the crew to take one year to reach final speed, while 5 1/2 years would have elapsed on earth [6] Using these figures in relation to Proxima Centauri, the crew could get there in about 6 or 7 years; long before they reached top speed they would have to begin decelerating and thus not benefit from time-contraction. Relativity would benefit longer voyages, where additional light-years distance would require only minutes additional time. Until the travelers returned "home", things would seem to be well. But, even under the ideal and rather unrealistic condition of high acceleration and velocity near the speed of light, the problem of returning to a totally unfamiliar world would exist. Unless some scientist discovers a "space-warp" device, time alone will nullify any desire and/or ability to travel to the stars - in one lifetime.

The possibility of a multi-generation voyage to another star comes to mind. Such an approach would cancel the need for either great acceleration or velocity more than that sufficient to escape the sun's gravitational system. The problem however would be providing a propulsion system powerful enough to lift of the family housing as well as the fantastic amount of fuel required. Simply carving out such a gigantic "spacecraft" from an asteroid would be quite a challenge for mankind.


The second area to be discussed is navigation. If the propulsion effort were all expended at the beginning of the journey, then the accuracy needed to reach a certain star would be beyond the limit of possibility. The travelers could very well find themselves in the midst of a great emptiness. Even with continuous thrust, the problem of navigation is a complex one. At high velocities (especially those near the speed of light), any attempt to determine the spacecraft's position would have to take into account the time elapsed since the light beam departed, the position of the beam's origin, and the difference in relative time of the traveler and earth. Perhaps radar pulses could be sent out to certain objects in definite positions before the voyage programmed so that the craft would meet the returning beams at certain times and thus be able to fix its position; or light beams from known stars could be measured as the craft makes its journey. Perhaps simply aiming at the apparent position of the star would suffice to get there. In multi-generation voyages navigation is of relatively little importance, since the huge craft would have plenty of time.

Dangers du voyage spatial

There are certain hazards of space which will have to be considered when planning a journey to the stars. Particles present a small, but very serious problem to interstellar travelers. The simplest problem that of the planets and asteroids. The positions of these can be plotted and it would be simple to plot a course which avoided these objects. Meteors and to a lesser extent comets present a more difficult problem. Although the possibility of colliding with one of these objects is infinitesimal once outside the solar system, the gravity of such a collision is such that the possibility must not be overlooked. Especially at very great velocities, the problem of collision becomes a serious threat. Any particle would puncture the ship, requiring repair. Damage to the propulsion system could possibly result in total disaster.

Some harmful radiations such as ultraviolet radiation can easily shielded. Solar wind, the flux of plasma from the sun, should not pose any problem for interstellar flight. Cosmic rays, a highly penetrating radiation, could present the problem of adequate shielding, especially since the voyages would be so lengthy. But these hazards of space are no insurmountable problems in attempting to reach the stars.

Problems Facing the Travelers

Pressurisation et système d'oxygène 630
Conditionnement thermique
Contrôle d'atmosphère
Combinaisons spatiales
3 hommes
Equipement intérieur
Earth Survival Pack
Nourriture et eau
Equipement électronique
Power Supplies
Last Stage
Cargo 14000

A fundamental problem is that of the air needed for such a journey. A normal person breathes seven liters of air per minute, Considering the number of years an interstellar voyage would take, the amount of air needed to sustain even one person is fantastic, even when taking into consideration the reuse of air. The carbon dioxide exhaled also presents a problem. Present research is being undertaken concerning the use of algae to consume carbon dioxide while at the same time giving oxygen The amount of algae needed to provide a balanced and self-sustaining atmosphere should not be too great. However, if anything should go wrong with the algae, the travelers would be in an unfortunate situation. Food and water, as well as other necessary items in a journey of such magnitude, would also have to be included. Douglas Aircraft Company determined the various weight required in a 52 000 -lb. three-man space vehicle intended to travel extensively throughout the solar system:

The mere number of travelers on an interstellar voyage and their sex creates a problem. If they are to be gone for perhaps a decade, should they all have mates? This would seem a sound idea, as well as having a minimum of four couples on the voyage. (Two people alone that long would be unadvisable; two couples would likewise become strained; in the case of three couples, one couple might feel "left out". An analogous problem existed when Admiral Byrd had to determine the number to stay at an isolated outpost in Antarctica.) The effects of acceleration for long periods will also have to be considered. Finally, the possible psychological effect of such a trip — cut off from everyone and everything, contained in a relatively small space for a long period facing the monotony of space — these and others will all have to be considered before such a journey is undertaken. Both physically and psychologically, man is not meant to explore the stars yet.


The possibility of travel to the stars has been considered: propulsion, navigation, space hazards, and problems facing the travelers. It is found that no adequate propulsion system has yet been found, the primary block to interstellar travel. Both navigation and space hazards could possibly be overcome; however, problems facing the travelers reaffirm the improbability of travel to other star systems, at least from the earth. Man is not yet ready to explore the heavens.


  1. Ridenour, Louis N. "Electronics and the Conquest of Space", Bryson, Lyman, ed. "An Outline of Man's Knowledge of the Modern World", Garden City (1960), p. 296.
  2. Clarke, Arthur C. "The Exploration of Space", New York (1959) pp.- 169-70.
  3. Ley, Willy, "Harnessing Space", New York (1963), p. 37.
  4. Humphries, J. "Rockets and Rocket Propellants", Bates, D.R., ed. "Space Research and Exploration", New York (1958), pp. 56-7.
  5. Ley, op. cit., p. 56.
  6. Clark, op. cit., pp.l67-8.
  7. Stever, H. Guyford, "The Technical Prospects", Bloomfield, Lincoln P., ed. "Outer Space", Englewood Cliffs (1962), p. 29.

Travaux consultés

(Dans une critique de cet article, Andrew Glantz a écrit :

...M. Swanson fait quelques erreurs par omission : lorsqu'il discute de l'accélération d'un véhicule à partir du décollage, il oublie de mentionner la masse approximative. Le lecteur n'est pas informé de la taille du véhicule (et par conséquent du nombre de passagers à prendre). Dans sa discussion du voyage vers d'autres étoiles, il oublie de mentionner pourquoi elles nous intéressent. Sont-elles les centres d'autres systèmes solaires [sic] ? Que pourrions-nous trouver ; que pourrions-nous apprendre ? Il n'y a relativement aucun but dans le voyage vers une autre étoile - un véhicule approchant une étoile s'évaporerait.