People often say that sci-fi is becoming a reality whenever a bold new technology comes out. Usually that is a bit of an exaggeration. However, Harold White, a NASA engineer and physicist, is in the process of designing a spaceship that is truly straight out of almost every sci-fi story every written.

The ship, tributarily being called the ISX Enterprise has many planned “sci-fi” features, but perhaps the most exciting is the plan to make it a “warp ship,” meaning it could shoot through space faster than the speed of light. Yes, just like in Star Trek.

Mark Rademaker, who is collaborating with White and created the CGI design concept for the IXS Enterprise, says, “We wanted to have a decent image of a theory conforming Warp ship to motivate young people to pursue a STEM career… It does have some Sci-Fi features that might never transfer to a possible final design, unless we really want to.”

The fact that the science behind this is even theoretically plausible it truly mind-boggling. To put it in oversimplified terms, the ship would essentially utilize a loophole in Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, wherein it would contract space-time in front of it and expand space-time behind it.

“Essentially, the empty space behind a starship would be made to expand rapidly, pushing the craft in a forward direction — passengers would perceive it as movement despite the complete lack of acceleration.

White speculates that such a drive could result in “speeds” that could take a spacecraft to Alpha Centauri in a mere two weeks — even though the system is 4.3 light-years away.”

White’s concept for this, which he worked out mathematically from a theory proposed back in 1994, uses large rings that surround the spacecraft to reduce the energy needed to warp space-time both in front of and behind the spacecraft.

“The rings are most important as they will form the Warp bubble,” said Rademaker. “The way they are designed now will reduce the energy requirement needed to form the bubble. (By quite a large factor.) Also we tried to fill up as much space within the rings, it’s expensive to leave that open or unused.”

White and his team at NASA’s Eagleworks Labs are now working on a “proof of concept” for this idea.

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