The researchers proposed the idea of leaving a hollow asteroid and using it to travel among the stars. It may sound like something out of a Arthur C. Clarke novel, but the idea of using asteroids as structures for generational interstellar ships could actually have some merit.
Known as the evolving stellar asteroid, the concept was invented by the starship team of Tel Delft – a group of students and researchers who share a passion for interstellar space flights.
Given the amount of time such a journey could take, long-term sustainability would be crucial.
The founder of the team, Angelo Vermeulen, said:
We need self-sustaining and evolutionary space technology, able to withstand the many decades needed to travel from our Solar system to another.
As part of this, we are looking at the type of life-regenerative support system, pioneered by the program MELiSSA (micro-ecological Life Support system alternative – the eco-friendly life support system) conducted by ESA.
The team also suggested that the ship would need to act almost as a living organism.
Vermeulen still said:
A spacecraft, therefore, also needs to be able to evolve. After all, returning to Earth to face problems, as we saw during the subsequent missions towards the moon, is out of the question. The ship needs to be able to behave like a living organism that uses raw materials available in space, like asteroids. These can be explored for fuel and building materials, for example.