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Re: <Two bits worth

> I sincerely hope that Tim is vastly underestimating 
> how computer  sophistication will have advanced by 
> 2050.  But his comment about the ions not hitting the 
> mouth of the Asimov may be a concern for reasons other 
> than computer control.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but 
> won't those ions be affected by interstellar dust, gas, 
> charged particles, and weak magnetic edies from 
> the stars?  I wish I knew just how far we could keep 
> an ion stream focused  to with 1000 km, prefereable 
> 10km.  Heavy ions, like iron, should be less 
> perterbed no matter what kind of interference.

This is not a trivial mater.  Not only do you need a huge accelerator to
decel the fuel down to usable speed (why are we launching fuel toward the
ship from a microwave sail ship?  Why not a maser beam to a mini decel sail?)
from a platform being pulled around by the sail.  NOt easy.

I think Tims problems are with assuming the fuel launcher will keep working
long enough.  

> Warning: personal political views to follow.  Terminate your > browsing
unless you want to hear me gripe about our 
> space program.

> Okay,  I'm going ballistic here for a minute.  I vote we 
> move the launch date to 2150 or later.  Why?  You 
> probably know why.  It just doesn't seem that technology 
> will be at all up to the task of sending a man to another 
> planet  (let alone a starsystem) and bringing him back 
> safely without unparalled, united, financial support 
> from the nations of Earth.  

Oh are tech is well up to interplanetary flight.  Interstellar does look
unlikly by 2050 thou.  Unfortunatly if we back the time to 2150, we'ld have
no idea what technology or physics we'ld be talking about.

> And seeing how little people are investing into figuring 
> out how make conquoring the final frontier cheaper  we 
> aren't going to the stars any time soon.

After 15 years in NASA I have very colorfully opionion of our space program,
or lack there of.  But things are coming to a head.  People want to see some
results, and people are starting to realize NASA's been screwing around and
eating up money without producing anything, and that large comercial
potentials are being locked out.  Thats anoying people.

I expect a lot to change. in the next few years.

> By the way.  Did you guys hear that they vitually 
> cancelled the X-34 program?  The private companies 
> determined it wouldn't be profitable.  Maybe  true, but
>  somebody has to work the problem of designing a more 
> reasonably reusable LEO vehicle than the pitiful excuse 
> we call the Space Shuttle.

Several groups are.  Problem is NASA can't decide if it really wants a new
launcher built that will make the shuttle look stupid (even if it saves the
agencies bacon), or just try to twist things into a long term technology

X34 start as a com,pany program that wanted to use NASA test equip.  Then
NASA took it over and opened it up for a sham compatative bid.  That awarded
it to the origional companies.  Then NASA tried to take it over and redefine
it the way they wanted it to be done.  The companies got madder and madder.
 Then decided it was 'uneconomical'.

The X-33 SSTO program (which is the expected shuttle and expendable
replacement) is having similart problems with NASA, but NASA can't afford to
have it fail.  But they may want it to even at the cost of the agency.  But
if NASA is destryied, there's noone else to prevent private launch services,
so that market should incresse a lot.