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RE: starship-design: Go Starwisps
I am not so sure we need worry about contact with another star faring species at any of the destinations on this list or even on the new expanded one. It seems fairly certain that if there were a civilization at any of these stars anywhere near our own level of technology we would already be aware of them. There emissions would have given them away.
If the probes are chanced upon by a Type 2 or 3 civilization, it also doesn't matter, OUR emissions have ALREADY given us away. So either way we can send the probes. The only area where care needs to be taken is if we encounter pre-space civilizations so that we don't accidentally destroy their society...
I am not all that worried about encountering hostile Type 1 civilizations at any of the nearer stars. We would already know about them and they would already know about us. Besides there are always self destruct charges...
Long experience has taught me not to believe in the limitations indicated by purely theoretical considerations. These - as we well know - are based on insufficient knowledge of all the relevant factors."
From: Zenon Kulpa [SMTP:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 1997 8:45 AM
Subject: starship-design: Go Starwisps
> From: "L. Parker" <email@example.com>
> Now to more mundane matters. The point of my posting the list of stars
> within 5 parsecs wasn't to poke holes in it (sorry Zenon)
As a scientists, I am used to carefully check my data before
drawing any conclusions from them ;-)
> I just wanted
> everyone to see that there were FIFTY EIGHT stars within our reach NOW.
> If you expand that another 5 parsecs there are THOUSANDS. I think we are
> wasting time here...we need a couple of gigawatt free electron lasers
> in orbit to start pushing out Starwisps as soon as we can.
> We should be getting the first results back by the time we figure out
> a better way to push manned starships to the stars.
I do agree.
Generally I consider it obvious that starting interstellar manned
missions must be preceded by a series of robotic flyby/pathfinder
missions (various scenarios of this sort were posted on this list,
e.g. by me and, just recently, Lee).
And these robotic probes are far easier to design, build and launch
using even today's technology. In the same time, they constitute
a good exercise in interstellar flight technology,
necessary to be advanced and tested before any attempts
to actually build and use a manned starship.
Possibly we should switch (at least for some time...)
into design of such robotic probe(s)?
The only problem I can see is safety - what if our robot
gets caught by some nearby spacefaring civilization?
May be (I am not sure) any interstellar activity of our species
should be suspended until we become well established
technologically within our planetary system so as to be less
vulnerable to any ill effects that may come from the first
interstelllar political (or biological) incident...
However, design exercises and simulations pose no such
problems and can be very useful, if only to sample
and structure the space of design possibilities.
We do already have sent several interstellar probes,
but they will come anywhere near other star system
not earlier than some tens of thousands of years,
so they seem not to produce any hazard of this sort
in the foreseable future.
So, why not going robotic for a while?
[Additional benefit - lessening the danger of another outburst
of that standard Zenon/Kelly flame war on one-way missions... ;-) ]