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Milestones to Intergalactic Travel

Updated on November 26, 2014

First Milestone

A milestone is a marker, generally made of granite, along a highway that indicates an interval of one mile. The ancient Romans were one of the first to use milestones (the Roman mile was shorter than the modern mile). More elaborate signs today tell how far to different towns and cities but milestones are still with us.

A milestone is also a stage in a project. The first milestone in travel was trans-Atlantic (or trans-ocean) and the transcontinental railroad (1869) and transcontinental highway(1913). The next milestone was the moon landing. The next milestone will be humans landing on Mars or any other planet (it could be Mercury instead). The next milestone after that will be the first humans to land on a world in another stellar system.

And it will be one huge milestone before humans set foot on a world in another major galaxy. Reaching a satellite galaxy such as one of the Magellanic Clouds seems like cheating since such a galaxy is orbiting the Milky Way but even that is a steppingstone to reaching Andromeda or Triangulum or Wolf-Lundmark-Melotte or Barnard's Galaxy.

The next milestone will be venturing outside the Local Group. Some of the groups closest to our Local Group are the IC 342/Maffei Group (a binary), the Centaurus A/M83 Group, the M94 Group, and the M81 Group.

M81 Group is notable for containing Arp's Loop, Holmberg IX, Bode's Galaxy, The Cigar (a starburst-type galaxy), Caldwell 7, Caldwell 3, and Coddington's galaxy. Holmberg IX is the youngest nearby galaxy and this galaxy contains the first yellow supergiant eclipsing binary stars ever found. These stars are shaped like a peanut !!!

Caldwell 5 and Maffei 1 are the two major galaxies within the IC 342/Maffei Group. Maffei was once thought to be part of the Local Group but due to the fact that we have to look through our galaxy's core to see it, it took us awhile to sort out the fact that it is in a separate group. The problem was like trying to see if there is a planet exactly opposite the Earth on the far side of the sun by staring right at the sun, Obviously the sun is in the way and one needs probes or observatories that are distant from our present vantage point. Caldwell 5 is sometimes called the Hidden Galaxy. Dwingeloo is also part of this group.

Centaurus A/M83 Group includes Centaurus A (featured on almost as many galaxy posters as Andromeda back in the day) and the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy.

There are many galaxies that are isolated and far from any group. One such is NGC 404 also known as "Mirach's Ghost".


This is a milestone. A milestone is also a metaphor for a stage in a project.

Cislunar Travel

Cislunar travel requires a moonship to carry people. We have done this and, except for those who want to develop the moon, the push is on to Mars and other planets.

Apollo 8 - Go For TLI (1969)

Apollo 8 Mission Highlights

Moonwalk One - Apollo 11 : Neil Armstrong - The First Man on the Moon - 1969 NASA Documentary - Moonwalk One

Interplanetary Travel

Interplanetary travel requires a planetship to carry people. No one has built one yet but several individuals, companies, nonprofit NGO's and national space agencies claim to making plans to go to Mars and other planets.

The Chinese may be interested in Venus, There are those who are interested in Mercury and those who are interested in the dwarf planet Ceres (the largest asteroid).

Millionaire plans mission to Mars

Mars mission: Dennis Tito proposes manned trip

Dennis Tito plans manned mission to Mars

SpaceX CEO Bets Manned Mission to Mars by 2020

Space tourist plans mission to Mars

The challenges facing Dennis Tito and first manned mission to Mars

Human 2023 Mars Landing

Interstellar Travel

Interstellar travel requires breakthroughs not only in physics and engineering but in philosophy, that is, considering it possible to go faster than light.

Voyage to Pandora: First Interstellar Space Flight

Editor's Note -- Even fictional travel to other stellar systems always leaves out the not-so-minor detail of how they got there.

Q- Humanity's first interstellar flight pt 1

NASA Warp Drive Project - - "Speeds" that Could Take a Spacecraft to Alpha Centauri in Two Weeks

Why did they put "speed" in quotation marks?

Intergalactic Travel

Richard Powell
Richard Powell

Intergalactic travel is the next milestone after interstellar travel. After we have gone to nearby galaxies in the Local Group and to other groups in the cluster to which the Local Group belongs, then we will head for the nearest cloud outside our own. A cloud is the largest structure within a supercluster and the cloud we are in is called the Ursa Major-Canes Venatici Cloud and the supercluster we are in is the Virgo Supercluster.

Intersuperclustral travel is the next milestone after intergalactic travel. When I was a child (a few weeks ago), astronomers back then said that the Southern Supergalaxy was the closest supercluster to our own home supercluster. Today, one source says "the Hydra-Centaurus Supercluster". The problem with this answer is that there is a Hydra Supercluster and a Centaurus Supercluster. Another source says the closest is the Coma Supercluster. Obviously to any intelligent person, the solution is to build several superclusterships and fire a starting gun and whichever ship reaches another supercluster first will have the answer in the form of survey data and odometer readings. They will also have good stories to tell -- like how people in other superclusters are billions of aeons ahead of us and developed intersuperclustral travel back when our ancestors were single-celled creatures dreaming of one day becoming apemen. Coming down out of the trees and going down into caverns as cavemen during the Ice Age would have been beyond their imagination. Kind of like today.


Richard Powell Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.


The problem with these you-are-here "pictures" of the Milky Way is that they are a lie.

No human has left the vicinity of the Earth since 1972, the last year humans were on The Moon.

No human or, for that matter, probe has gone beyond the Solar System and sent back a picture. Even Voyager One, which has left the Solar System, has not sent a useful image yet and at the speed of light, it could take a while for a useful image to get back to us.

Therefore, those posters with a supposed image of the Milky Way and an arrow pointing to the location of the Solar System are a lie. Moreover, they are a lie twice over.

One, no human or probe has left the our Milky Way galaxy, turned around, and taken a picture of our home, the ultimate group snapshot -- ("Hey you on the end! Scrunch in a little closer. Hold it! Now everyone smile!")

Oddly enough, few remember the Lunar Orbiter 1 pictures of Earth. But when the first astronauts to orbit the moon took photographs of the Whole Earth from the moon, the modern environmental movement began because it became obvious that air does not stop at borders and that the oceans are one ocean and that our petty wars mean nothing when an astronomical disaster could end the only place that we call home. No such Whole Galaxy or Whole Home Galaxy or Whole Milky Way photograph exists -- because we have not left the Solar System, much less the Milky Way. A picture of the Solar System, by the way, will look rather disappointing because from Pluto, Sedna and even further out; the Sun (Sol) is just another star and you cannot see the planets with the naked eye.

Two, we don't know what the Milky Way looks like. We have some crude maps but much of the Milky Way is hidden by dust clouds blocking the view and by the bright hub blocking the view of the far side of the galaxy from us. Because Earth is a rim world we see the disk of the Milky Way edge on but exactly because of that, we cannot see more than the tracery across a really dark sky on a moonless night. If we were off the plane of the ecliptic (off the disk and looking at the Milky Way face on instead of edge on, then we would have the view in the posters. This tells the Sherlock Holmes astronomical detective that the poster image is probably Andromeda put up as a twin of the Milky Way. And our galaxy may indeed be a spiral galaxy with size and shape similar to Andromeda and, as with human twins, we feel a need to visit and communicate with our twin. Unfortunately, Andromeda is an evil twin in that it is high in radiation and the first Milky Wayans to visit Andromeda will get cancer. Andromeda will also collide with the Milky Way and kill us all in a few billion years.

Editor's Note -- I got interested in intergalactic travel because of this impending collision. I see no reason to wait until the last millennium before looking for a new some unclaimed uninhabited galaxy. There is bound to be a last minute rush by any other alien civilizations also with the same idea of evacuating the Milky Way and, as usual, we are left with the leftovers. All the choice uninhabited unclaimed galaxies will have been picked over and claimed and inhabited and we are left with galaxies with ultra-high energy cosmic radiation, neutron stars and black holes. Do you really want this junk in your neighbourhood? Black holes are not only hazards to navigation but too lethal for tourism. A tour operator could not get insurance.


Wolf-Lundmark-Melotte Galaxy

Local Group of Galaxies in 3D (With Music)

Centarus A/M83 Galaxy Group

Intersuperclustral Travel - (travel Between Superclusters)

I added this section not to show that I am always looking further and farther ahead than anyone else (a given) but to remind ourselves that after we achieve intergalactic travel, that is not the end. With the achievement of intergalactic travel, the human adventure begins.

How Far Away Is It - 14 - Local Superclusters


Richard Powell
Richard Powell

Richard Powell Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

Superclusters in the Cosmos


Andrew Z. Colvin
Andrew Z. Colvin

Andrew Z. Colvin Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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