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Re: starship-design: Television Starships

At 9:32 AM 10/31/96, David Levine wrote:
>Hi, gang, just forwarding this along.  Duncan is not a member
>of the starship design mailing list, so if you respond, you'll
>want to cc him.
>Duncan, these questions are more easily answered by the group.
>I can give you at least one fast answer: no, we do not have
>the ability to produce a starship -today- that can accellerate
>at 1g for several years.  There are, however, other ways to
>produce gravity.  And communication is the -least- of our
>worries.  It's the drive system that causes all the engineering
>>From duncan@mail.cable.com Wed Oct 30 10:26 EST 1996
>Comments: Authenticated sender is <duncan@mail.cable.com>
>From: "Duncan McKenzie" <duncan@mail.cable.com>
>To: lunar@sunsite.unc.edu
>Date: Wed, 30 Oct 1996 10:26:57 +0000
>MIME-Version: 1.0
>Content-transfer-encoding: 7BIT
>Subject: Starship designs
>Hi David
>I'm a freelance writer currently working on a proposal for a TV
>series set on a starship in the near future. My objective here is to
>create something entertaining but scientifically plausible. Plots
>would explore the challenges of having a crew living in a state of
>confined isolation during a single, long mission (to a nearby star),
>rather than the usual space battles and alien encounters.

Hum, one of our arguments was over how the crew would deal with years of
nothing to do while on route.  Presumably the bulk of the crew would be
there to explore the starsystem, so they would have little to do enroute

>In order to make this easy to produce, I want the crew to be living in
>a normal gravity -- hopefully on flat floors. It seems to me that the
>only way to accomplish this is to accelerate the starship at a
>constant 1g. Would it be possible, using current technology, to build
>engines capable of delivering this level of thrust continuously over
>several years?

If you'ld check our newer draft versions for the web site at



They have some illistrations of the interiors.  Fraid they tend to be big
pipes aranged in a circle and spun and twisted to adjust for different
gravty/thrust conditions.  I worked them up, so write me if you terminally
confused.  ;)

>I would also like the spacecraft to be quite small, with all food
>water and air being recycled (again over many years). Are there any
>practical proposals for how this recycling might be done? I thought
>that the methods used on nuclear submarines might apply here, but
>apparently they just compress and store their garbage and waste
>products. What I'm after is a complete, self-contained ecosystem, with
>humans (a crew of six) as a part of the system, but I'm having trouble
>finding details as to exactly what species would be required.

We have a big argumant on that, also written up on the newer (in work
sites).  If your missions less then 30-40 years it save weight by just
bringing along frozen and dryied food and such.  Water and air recycling
makes sence, and is fairly striagt forward.  One idea that might photo
graph well is clear plastic pipes about 6-10 inches in diameter (?)  Filled
with oxegen producing alge in a well lit room.  As you pump the mess around
you pump in CO2 and let out Oxegen.  Dead alge serve as mulch for new alge.

>Finally, what are the practical limits on how far away a spacecraft
>could communicate with Earth? I see that the T.A.U. design on your web
>site is supposed to communicate with Earth from interstellar space by
>means of a 10 W laser. Is this a practical proposal? I find it
>extraordinary that a laser could be aligned accurately enough to
>operate over such a distance. Do you know how far into "interstellar
>space" such a device would be able to maintain contact?
>I'd be grateful for any help you can give me on this, or for other
>sources of information you can point me to.
>Duncan McKenzie
>Toronto, Canada

Good luck Duncan


Kelly Starks                    Phone: (219) 429-7066    Fax: (219) 429-6859
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