On July 20th of this year, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos flew into space on the Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket. This was done shortly after Virgin Group founder Richard Branson flew into space on his Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo on July 12th. Both men are billionaires who are making space exploration and travel a real possibility. But to do the kind of thing you see in science fiction movies or television, a lot is still needed. In fact, there is an entire space travel checklist one needs. With each having a higher or lower level of importance versus the rest. What do we mean by this?
The “space travel checklist” is simply a list of things we will need to be capable of long-term space travel and exploration. It will surely be needed if humans, as we know them, will be capable of living on another planet. Having NASA work on things like this is great but they are funded by the American government. Obviously, this is too much to ask of them. However, getting billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk into the space sector will likely move a lot of things forward much quicker. A lot of the stuff needed for our checklist will likely be priorities for them, so let’s dive into what they’ll be working on.
Fleet Of Different Ship Types
Level Of Need:10
It’s quite obvious, right? You cannot hope to travel the universe if you do not have a ship to do it in. Therefore, the number one thing we need for our space travel checklist is a ship. However, different ship types are perhaps the most important thing to consider here. While it would be good to have a large ship meant to take people from planet to planet, a travel ship basically. It would also be critical to have other ship types too. Basically, we’d need to treat this like ships we have on the water.
Some are used as cargo ships, meant for taking a large supply of goods from one nation to another. Others are used for war purposes (not as much today but they do still exist). In space, it is possible we’ll need to go into battle. Therefore, warships are something to consider. At the same time, we also need ships meant for discovery or exploration. These need to be capable of having a large crew with more to spare, on top of enough room to handle any needs one might have.
Capability Of Producing Breathable Oxygen Long-Term
Level Of Need:10
When you think about must-haves for the space travel checklist, oxygen needs to be considered heavily. Yet it is also important that we have the ability to control how much each room has in it. For example, if we meet a species that needs more or less oxygen than we do as humans, we might want to take them back with us. They cannot survive at our oxygen level, so we need to be able to put them in a room where they can control the oxygen level they might need. However, we also need to be able to produce oxygen for those on the ship too.
This can be done by going into nebulas within the universe that we know have oxygen. For example, the Orion Nebula is said to have molecular oxygen. We could travel to a place like that and capture oxygen to use. Astronomers believe that, in our universe, oxygen is bound up with hydrogen in water-ice, which is clinging to dust grains. If this is true, we need to have a machine that could separate these chemicals for us. It would provide three incredibly useful things. That being Hydrogen, Water, and Oxygen. All of which we’d need on our ship.
No space travel checklist would be complete without considering drinkable water. It is very likely that you could pack enough to sustain a group of people for a short period of time. But for anything longer than a week, you will likely need to be able to produce water yourself. How can this be done? On Earth, we often catch rainwater and go through steps to purify it. That cannot be done in space. However, we also capture water from our own urine which is also cleaned and purified.
That could be done with a proper water purification machine on the ship. Yet there are also several meteors and asteroids that contain frozen water in the form of ice. If we can manage to catch one of them or send someone to land and mine the ice from them, that can be an excellent source of water too. Again, there is a need to purify it to make sure the water is 100% safe to drink. Yet this is an option that will be possible for us to do.
While it might not be a big deal for astronauts to care about gravity inside their spaceship, they have only ever gone as far as the Moon. However, most that go into space tend to go to the International Space Station or ISS., where they tend to conduct various experiments for NASA. Of course, the ISS is shared among every nation with a space program. Therefore, the experiments NASA conducts might not be conducted by the Canadian Space Agency, for example.
Yet in spite of the need to control gravity on the ISS, they do not. This forces every person to move around in zero gravity consistently the entire time they are there. However, during long-term space travel and especially in a space war situation, you will need to control gravity. This makes it of prime importance to any space travel checklist. Not having it can result in numerous mistakes being made. It can also make moving around a lot harder for those on board and cause physical problems for human beings. We truly need gravity to survive long-term.
A lot of people might assume when we reference cryogenic chambers, we mean the science fiction concept. Yes, while freezing a living human and essentially putting them to sleep while traveling could be cool, it’s not exactly needed. On top of this, it would likely be impossible to freeze a human being fully. All while keeping them alive, in some sort of coma-like state for an extended period. However, freezing other things can be incredibly useful and might benefit us long-term.
It is very possible we’ll come across an alien species or animal-like being. They might very well be capable of putting into a frozen state for an extended period. We know this can already be done with some plants and seeds. The same could be done with those from other planets. To keep them fresh, they might need this. It might also be that we found seeds on a frozen world and the chamber is the only way they could grow. Plus, cryotherapy is very helpful for our human bodies. As you can see, the benefits of having this are numerous.
If we want to be able to space travel like what we see in the movies, then it’s clear that outposts will be needed. Either in space itself or on a planet or moon’s surface. While this won’t be useful for discovery purposes, the outposts would be crucial when it comes to working with different beings on other planets. For example, if one planet is suffering from famine and another planet can help them with this, they might want to bring food and drinks.
This is a great thing for one planet to do for another and that type of diplomatic concept could go a long way. But if the planet is several lightyears away, there will likely be a need to stop at an outpost. A ship might need repairs or a place to dock until a potential storm passes on the go-to planet’s surface. There are several reasons for the outposts even beyond this, especially for smaller ships. They might need to stop for fuel, for example. Maybe even ask for directions.
One would conclude that no space travel checklist would be complete without proper batteries, especially long-lasting types. We do not mean the type of batteries you see today. Rather, a ship would work best in terms of travel if each room ran on its own singular power cell or battery system. If powerful enough, this could power up anything they might need in their room. Whether that is entertainment, a phone, laptop, etc. All of this will eventually require a power source.
It might be a good way to keep the ship running on its own, specific power source that allows for it to be unaffected by what others do. This efficient concept of energy would be good, but the batteries used need to be capable of immense storing energy to handle this sort of thing. You also need to be able to charge those batteries without using electricity. The same goes for a power cell, which stores electricity to use whenever it’s needed. The storage it can handle needs to be massive.
Batteries and Equipment Must Charge Off Solar Energy
Level Of Need: 9
One cool thing we can easily do with things like batteries in rooms is to clearly have them capable of distributing but also storing lots of energy. But these batteries have to be given the energy to store and distribute, right? If we use solar energy and/or the radiation from this or the universe around us, that could be an easy way to charge stuff. There are billions of stars across the universe. Therefore, it would be quite odd for us to ever be too far from one for a long time.
If we’re making a space travel checklist, we want stuff that works off of solar energy due to this. More importantly, we need it to use that energy efficiently. For example, if a charge of 100% results in the ship being completely powered for one week on normal energy use, that’s good. But if you need constantly daily solar energy, that would be bad. Because you never know what might happen. Thus, you need the energy to be used efficiently and last for a while.
Radiation might seem like a terrible thing, and it certainly can be. However, the Curie family taught us how much it can do for us too, making it a need for our space travel checklist. We use radiation for a lot of stuff today. Radiation can be found in things like your normal X-Rays or CT Scans. Obviously, these will be needed on a ship for medicinal purposes. Of course, radiation has also been used to treat cancer and much more.
Radiation is also used in nuclear fission, which can produce electricity. This is a reliable, very abundant, and clean source of electricity that can be used on ships for long-term power. These are just a few things radiation allows us to do. That is not even discussing the ability it provides us in weaponry or bombs. If we can capture and store radiation produced around us in the universe, it would be a great way of having a major power source around at all times for countless needs.
The Materials To Grow Food On Board Without Natural Light
Level Of Need:7
For smaller ships, especially those that operate as extraction or escape vessels, this is not needed. However, it will need to be on the space travel checklist for anyone that is going to be traveling space long-term. That is why we gave it a 7 on our level of need scale. This type of thing can be done onboard a ship, the same way it is done with plants inside someone’s home or in a greenhouse. Most food plants will need water and the sun, but we will not always be close by to a star. Therefore, we have to create artificial light as well as heat and oxygen.
We can create most of this in a greenhouse and the rest can be supplied by the ship. It is possible the greenhouse or greenhouses on our ship will run off of their own individual oxygen and water supply. They will most certainly need to run off of their own power supply to keep regular light and heat on them. It would allow us to grow foods that we’d need, no matter what they might be. Each greenhouse could create foods or even medical herbs that grow within a specific temperature range. Allowing us to split them up based on each plant’s needs.
3D Printers That Use The Chemicals Of The Universe
Level Of Need:7
Just like with growing our own food, this is specifically only needed on a ship that will be traveling long-term. Although, it is likely that some cargo ships could utilize them for specific needs they might have. It is stated that if we are ever going to colonize the Moon, Mars, or any other planet, we’d need a 3D Printer. This is true, but we could also certainly use one on ships too. There will be times we need things, and it’s not going to always be possible to go home to Earth to get it.
It could be that we need a specific part or we need to make stuff. The cool thing is that 3D Printers just need specific mathematical settings to create anything you’d need. If our 3D Printers work off of the most abundant chemicals in the universe, we could pretty much create anything. The most abundant include hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, neon, nitrogen, magnesium, silicon, sulfur, iron, and helium. Capturing these chemicals and adding them to printers will be all that’s needed.
While some might assume we’d only need a shield or force field if we are in potential danger from an alien species shooting at us in space, this is not the case. While they can obviously help with this, we’d also need them for several other issues that could happen. For example, our Sun alone sends out solar flares. It is not harmful to us on Earth because our atmosphere and magnetosphere both prevent that from happening. In space though, there is nothing to stop them.
The ISS can help a little with this as long as one is on the ship, but the astronauts still experience some radiation exposure from them. On top of this, meteors or asteroids could be potentially coming our way or we could be moving so fast that we cannot move out of the way of them or space debris. Due to this, having a shield or force field present could prevent us from being harmed by all of this stuff. It is clear we need one or both in long-term space travel and for space war possibilities.
A Computer System Capable Of Handling An Extreme Amount Of Data
Level Of Need:9
While a computer like this would not really be useful for smaller ships or those meant for short travel, it would certainly need to be on any ship meant for space discovery or exploration. The reason for this is simple. Any discoveries one makes will be crucial to document. On Earth, we save memory in two forms, on the system itself or online. You could also use “online” for things like “the cloud” and other stuff similar to this. We do not have a universal cloud system as of now. Even if we did, we do not know how long it will take memory to get back to it.
One would assume it would take a longer or shorter time based on where we are from one. That means a ship will need to be capable of handling an extreme amount of data without crashing, potentially for years at a time. The memory could then be added to a Universal or Earth system after a ship makes it back home. Then it would be capable for all to access. It is possible to accomplish. Currently, HP has the world’s largest single-memory computing system in the world. It can handle up to 160 terabytes. For reference, 1 terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes. Your average laptop comes with 8G of free memory on it.
On Star Trek, there is a very handy medical device known as the “dermal regenerator.” It is handheld, capable of being used by pretty much anyone. Even though it’s mostly doctors that use it on the show. The device is used to heal things like cuts and burns, and not even leave a scar behind. While often used for simple injuries, it’s also used for quicker healing needs after surgical procedures. NASA actually began trying to make this a reality several years ago. They signed a patent license agreement with GRoK Technologies in 2014 to accomplish this.
The idea was to make tech that could regenerate bone and muscle since astronauts often lost bone and/or muscle mass when they returned from long space missions. Several others, such as Harvard Medical School, are also working on something similar. Back in 2019, however, the Imperial College London developed Traction Force-Activated Payloads or TrAPs. It creates a biomaterial that generates skin and then activates healing proteins to heal wounds quicker. It’s almost like a spray-on bandage that also treats wounds. We’re close to the real thing, we just need to get a bit closer.
Universal Translators can be seen in many science fiction shows or films. The idea is that one will always be able to communicate with someone, regardless of where they are from. The version used on a show like Star Trek knows more than 1,000 languages. We actually have something like this already called Google Translate. It is capable of translating any currently used language. Of course, it’s not perfect and will make many mistakes. Yet this translation technology is incredibly useful.
The problem is that having a translator does not do us much good with other species unless we are able to add their language into our translator’s database. That might require accessing potential technology on their planet that contains their language(s). Some will not allow us to do this, which might force us to steal that information to communicate with them properly in the future. However, once we have this translator, it can be used by any space traveler from Earth.
While it might not be something we can just carry around, every large ship might benefit heavily from our own version of the Elysium Machine. For those unaware, the 2013 movie Elysium was about a colony that lived above Earth in what was pretty much a paradise. People lived longer, were far healthier, and things were perfect. All while those on Earth suffered from several issues, all without any real help with them. The way those in the space colony above Earth survived was via the Elysium.
The machine only required one to be inside of it, and it could tell you exactly what was wrong with you. It could be something as simple as the flu all the way up to advanced cancer, broken bones, etc. The machine then treated and healed these issues, saving lives. While this type of machine would be awesome, it cannot be expected. Yet a machine that could tell us exactly what ails us that could administer medication or perform complicated surgical procedures? That is sensible and will happen.
Reaching the speed of light will be incredibly important for anyone wishing to travel in space. For those unaware, to reach the speed of light, a ship must be moving at roughly 186,282 miles per second. Since the distance of the most places we’d like to reach is measured in light-years, it would take our entire lifetime as well as the lifetime of our grandchildren to reach most. Even those that are relatively close, such as the Alpha Centauri solar system, would take an extremely long time to reach.
Light speed allows us to reach a place like Alpha Centauri (a little over 4 lightyears from Earth) in just 4 Earth years. Just one light-year is around 6 trillion miles. The fastest we’ve ever traveled was 24,791 mph, accomplished by Apollo 10. It would take us forever to reach Alpha Centauri at that pace. Light Speed cuts all of this down and would also allow us to reach planets within a single solar system at a far faster rate. Taking trips that would take us months down to a day or two at most.
While this might seem like something that would be virtually useless for most, it’s actually very important. Moreover, it could be critical for ships to have some form of cloaking technology that would allow them to hide from potential enemies. This might be something most assume warships would employ. Yet the most important ships that could utilize it are those meant for travel only. Due to the major need to make as much room for people as you can, a lot of weaponry would be sacrificed. As a result, some of the travel ships might be able to have some helpful weapons as well as shields.
But they could not have anything near what a warship might have. Obviously, these ships will be important. Therefore, cloaking tech could be extremely useful. That said, we’ve already managed to do this with some military aircraft. They simply used mirrors to reflect light, or light-bending tech, allowing them to hide and move about without being seen. Unlike on Earth, space does not have sound. Therefore, merely hiding visually is all we’d need to do. We also need to be invisible to radars, something that has also been developed for Earth radars so far.
While this might seem like an obvious one, it’s not something everyone considers for some reason. When we reference this, we mean it in two parts. First, the communication between those on the ship as well as nearby planets will be critical. This will allow us to communicate with advanced planets. It would also allow us to communicate with people from our crew on those planets too. Yet another thing must also be considered. We need fast communication to reach extremely long sectors of space without any major lag or missed time.
While it is expected that we will have some small communication issues, we do not have time to wait months to years to hear back from people. This can likely be accomplished the same way we do it on Earth, by having specialized communication towers on planets or beacons spread out through space. Anyone wishing to communicate with those light-years away will be able to do so without any major wait. Thus allowing us to speak with our families or even warn others about a possible issue coming.
Nanobots are revolutionary and will one day be the answer to several major technological breakthroughs. Of course, the nanobot industry is still in its infancy. But they are basically little robots that are the size of a nanometer. This is smaller than one billionth the size of a normal meter. Basically, we’re saying they are small. Due to their smallness, they can be used in numerous areas, especially the human body. That is why the medical community is heavily researching them now.
Yet their small size also makes them capable of entering into armor or ships. Plus, they are hard to detect on radars. They can also form together to make things. You could very well fly nanobots into a room and have them form together to make a humanoid robot. This is very well within their future capability. The toughness of nanobots is also incredible, making them potentially capable of emergency armor or shield defense. That makes them critical for our space travel checklist.
Our space travel checklist certainly needs to have controllable wormhole technology. With it, we could literally go anywhere we want in seconds. Of course, a wormhole allows us to sort of bend time and space and essentially cut through it. You can compare this to a pizza that folds up to be a calzone. First, think about the pizza itself and imagine you cannot cut it. Instead, you must eat from the bread on one end to bread on another.
If you fold the pizza, you now eliminate how long it takes to reach the middle or even the other side. You can literally eat the middle immediately if you want. This is essentially what a wormhole does for us. It skips the normal steps and allows us to cut in line, and move hundreds to thousands of light-years away from our current destination. Right now, we know wormholes are possible but we have no way to control them. Knowing this could allow us to travel space without light-speed technology.
A lot of people assume that when we reference “androids,” we mean something exactly like “Data” from Star Trek. While an android as sophisticated and humanoid as Data would be very valuable to have, that is not expected. What we DO expect, however, is to have androids or other robotics capable of specific jobs. Those of which humans do now that they will be able to do for us. Whether that is farming or other labor jobs or something as simple as making repairs.
They are also critical for our space travel checklist, as they will likely be what we will use as “first contact” with any new species we come across. Due to not knowing how we will be able to handle a planet’s atmosphere, we will likely need to send androids down to a planet to keep ourselves safe. We also do not know if the species present there will be hostile. Once a proper evaluation has been made, THEN we can send people down. We could also send them into battlezones, having them pilot warships for us. As you can see, androids will be a major asset and something we will need to perfect soon.
While every space travel checklist will most certainly have weaponry on it… the real problem is what weapons we will need. It is likely ships will need to be decked out with them. Warships will likely have more weapons while exploration ships will likely need to have the most advanced weapons. This is due to potentially experiencing attacks from enemies that cannot be harmed by our traditional weapons. Most weapons will need to use something that will affect any living creature.
If we base this on what we see in our universe, then weapons will need to be able to harm the most abundant chemicals. Things like hydrogen, carbon, and many other chemicals can be disrupted. Using weapons that can be adjusted to harm those specific chemicals will allow us to battle any being. Whereas we will also need to study any potential metals, among other things, that a ship or shelter can be made from. This knowledge will allow us to make weapons to affect them too.
Warp Drives work similarly to wormholes. They literally enter into a speed that will allow someone to travel extremely long distances in the blink of an eye. Warp drives will allow us to travel faster than the speed of light, which is important. Remember, moving at the speed of light is very fast. But anything claiming to be a “light-year” away will take us a year to reach, in spite of moving very fast. If a species is potentially in danger, it cannot wait a year for us.
We need to be able to get to them as fast as possible. Warp drives would allow this, as we’d travel at a speed so fast that we’d literally bend space and time around us to do so. There are several theoretical issues with this, such as entering into a speed that might bend time to a point that we’d exit out somewhere in the distant future or even the distant past. While there are many issues that could come, we’d need them on a space travel checklist. Otherwise, we’d always be behind or take far too long to reach a destination.
Star Trek viewers will recognize the “prime directive” concept instantly. This is mostly a diplomatic concept that Starfleet came up with to not disrupt the fragile evolution of a species. Basically, if they have never seen specific technology then they should not see it at all from us. This could cause their species to evolve too fast or they might wipe themselves out before understanding the harm something can cause. Moreover, if a species is unaware of any living beings besides themselves, then we cannot interact with them at all.
It is critical to avoid this, as beings less evolved might assume our advanced tech makes us God-like. They would then idolize a false God, potentially harming the species further. If there is a war going on or the species is experiencing a plague, we still cannot get involved. All of this is problematic, but the prime directive prevents us from interfering in a planet’s natural problems. Only ever getting involved if the planet experiences an extinction-level event. This directive will give us guidelines to follow that won’t affect our universe negatively.
Where did we get this stuff? Here are our sources: