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Re: Engineering Newsletter

Kelly replies to Timothy:
> >I think the central difference between us is your expectation of being
> >to colonise a world and self sustain a colony or base with only a couple
> >hundred people.  
> Indeed, that seems to be the difference between us, Zenon has a bit other
> attitude, saying that people should decide for themselves what they want
> which I do not agree completely but also do not disagree completely, it's
> like smoking, it's bad but not bad enough (No... I don't smoke)). Where
> Zenon and I do agree is that staying at TC may be less dangerous than
> all the way back home.

I can't see how staying would be safer.  Unless you expect the drive system
to fail?  Your still relying on the the same life support systems.

> >Currently a self sustained society needs millions of people to keep going
> >cities full of hardware.  I might be willing to accept that we might be
> >to do it with tens or hundreds of thousands of people in 50 years; but not
> >hundreds, and certainly not with what a ship could carry.
> I've doubts about that, a lot of things are unnessary renewed also a lot of
> effort is used to develop new things, if we would maintain the current
> of technology and not innovate, we probably had a lot more spare time.

Actually most companies only spend about %5 on research and development.  The
rest goes to manufacturing. So I don't expect a big saving there.

Later in this letter you mentioned this idea again and suggested if systems
were designed to be maintained they would require less replacement.  To a
degree true.  But after a couple decades everthing wears out; and the reason
we got used to throwing away things rather than repairing them, is its
cheaper and takes less effort.

> >> - You can't compare Antarctica with a new planet full of life.
> >
> >True, Antartica would be far more habtable and survivable, but its the
> >quick example I could come up with.  Then again, since antartic is so much
> >easyier to settle, and we don't.  Why would we settle in another star
> What I meant is that a new planet would give us more than Antarctica could,
> I don't mean that it could be a place to live, but a place to get much new
> scientific information.

Agreed.  For scientific purpose a alien biosphere would be a goldmine!  But
it wouldn't help the crew to survive.

> >That asumes the engines can provide the thrust equivelent to 1,000,000
> >their own weight.  No engines now made can do that.  The best fusion
> >I've heard specilated about can do 6 times there weight.  We could
> >expect that to go up to 20, but not a million.
> OK, take 1 engine that could acclerate itself and 19 other engines, than
> other 19 engines didn't need to accelerate themselves anymore so they could
> use all their power to accelerate the ship.

That works for 20 to one.  But you still have the weight of the fuel for the

> >If it doesn't need to be carried by the ship, it doesn't effect the
> >of the ship to function.  That gear can stay at home and be serviced by
> >facilities and people thatthe ship doesn't need to carry.
> Storing fuel doesn't need much that much facilities.

But it does take a lot of facilities to carry and move it.

>  I don't see why good
> planets without live could not be used.

Probably any planet about earth size would have life (assuming its not
radically hot or cold.

> Slowly I'm thinking of not going to a planet to live there: The main
> advantage of a planet are its ore resources, (assuming you can't live there
> without spacesuits. So why would we want live on a planet at all,
> space-stations could live near asteroids for their ores, the could fly away
> whenever they had enough materials.

Right, thats why I keep talking about space colonies.  Raw materials are far
easier to get at in space then on a planet.  By mid 21st century we'll
probably be moving a lot of our heavy industry of earth and into space for
that reason (expect the third world to screem!), so I expect our starship
crew would not think of trying to get ore up off a planet.

> >To keep down the weight I was figuring no food rasiing on the ship.
> >20 years of standard frozen foods in cryo, and 20 years of concentrated
> >rations.  The rations are only for use for the ship to hold on for rescue
> >they can't make it back.  (I was assuming a standard mission of 20 years
> >round trip.  Thou we may need to streach it a bit more.)
> Aaagh 20 years of drinking porrige, OK I'm out, I won't go anymore.
> Although we could bake some bread or won't flour hold for that long?
> Nah, bread and porrige that still isn't eatable. 

???!  Not me dude.  People who lock large groups of people in steel hull and
feed them badly get hunted down and beaten up!  ;)

I was expecting to store standard groceries. Meat, eggs, milk, vegies,
breads, pasta all that stuff.  With the exception of the emergency rations,
which would be optimized for high nutritian and low weight.  Everything would
be as standard as possible. Thats why I used food weight numbers for home
consumers, not exploration or military missions.

> >Again I was expecting shorter missions, with a 2 maybe 3 year layover in
> >system.
> That makes Kevin's array-building even more difficult. Also doing any real
> research would not be possible. Besides that 3 years research for 15 years
> of travel is not acceptable, it would really be a waste of man power. So I
> think your idea of the goal of the mission isn't right.

Well you have to call and end to it sometime.  I figured a couple years in
systems would be all we could manage.  Maybe a bit more than 3 years, but
certainly not anywhere near 10.  We need to keep the crews round trip time
down below 30 years subjective (and not much more than that real time).  I
was also expecting a maximum ship service life of about 40 years.

> >>>Most of them will never be able to go to the planets. After a while none
> >>>them will be able to as the equipment runs out.  If they have to plan on
> >>>long stay, they'll have to curtail exploration fairly quickly in order
> >>>save the equip for more practical uses.
> >> 
> >> That may indeed be the case, but a 10 year exploration with 100 people
> >> hardly enough to do any real research of a complete solarsystem. Not to
> >> mention refueling or building complete beaming-arrays (only advanced
> >> nano-tech or anti-matter might overcome that problem).
> >
> >Which was one of the reasons why I was arguing against such things.
> Huh, I can't follow you, am I right that you are against refueling or
> building beaming arrays? If so, than the trip may indeed become very

Beaming arrays yes.  I was hoping we could get by on minning fuel for the
fusion systems and maybe launching it.

I was also assuming a larger number of people then you are.  Maybe only a 100
people on the ground, but I expect total research team would be a thousand or
more.  (Note the size of my ship.)

> >But if it all has the same chemistry
> >it can counter attack.  But the subtel chemistry and biostructures that
> >immune defenses use could be completely wrong to deal with the threat.
> Yes, we have also very powerful medcines, take penicillin, it has a very
> broad range, and can kill many diseases at once, probably a lot of
> extraterrestial ones too.

The only reason we can use anti-biotics at all is they trip up something
suttle in the bacteria they attack.  Even a slight variation of that bacteria
species is uneffected.  If the stuff effected something biologically
fundamental.  It would kil the patent as well as the desease.

> >> Then we should end the discussion about engines with the conclusion that
> >> only exotic fuels and/or enormous powerstations could make the trip
> >> possible. The techniques needed are only in a early theoretical stage
> >> the size of what is necessary is (almost) beyond imagination and
> >reasonabless.
> >
> >Then what else is there left to talk about?
> I don't know, maybe there are other interesting subjects where everyone
> to discuss about. Or we should summarize and break up but that sounds so
> hard after 1.5 years of writing.

Yeah, I'm begining to think we're doing this more out of habit then anything.
 Maybe thats why Dave can never seem to get around to fixing things on LIT.
 (I just got an E-mail from a new guy who wanted to join the newsletter and
saw my name in the on-line archive and asked what the status is.)

Maybe we should work up a conclusion reprt or something.

> >> Probably the normal astronauts are suited for such a trip. If they
> >> want new challanges every few years, they are probably on the wrong
> >> This trip is a carreer for life, even if you make it a two-way trip.
> >
> >Who would volenteer for a trip that could take deacdes but only give them
> >couple years work in the star system?  Or even worse if after that you are
> >abandoned in the starsystems with nothing to do but last out as long as
> >ship holds out? Or worse yet, expected to slave away maintaing the thing,
> >like being traped in a decades long Apollo 13 mission.
> So now we do not only have a no engine but we also don't have a crew who
> does want to fly the ship, if there was an engine. This discussion gets
> easier by the minute :) I guess that we also don't have anyone who wants to
> build it if it was possible.

Well we never could come up with a solid reason why people wanted to go
there.  It was just an assumption for the discussion that people would. 

So yes, maybe even if people could g, they wouldn't bother.  We don't bother
to send people to the moon or Mars?  ;)