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Re: starship-design: Go Starwisps

> From: KellySt@aol.com
> In a message dated 6/27/97 (Zenon Kulpa) wrote:
> >
> >1st, even super sized telescopes have their limitations
> >(e.g., gathering such important [for manned flight] data
> >as radiation & other conditions in the interstellar medium
> >is hardly possible with a telescope),
> >and they may cost even more than a robotic starprobe 
> >(see also Lee's answer to the above), and 
> >
> >2nd, another (even more) important reason of sending the probes 
> >is to test in REAL conditions the fledgling starflight technology,
> >before risking lives (you are, Kelly, against suicide missions,
> >aren't you?).
> You don't need to send a probe on an interstellar flight to check out the
> engines, and we have a fair idea of what radiation is in interstellar space.
I mean REAL conditions, i.e. test the engines in true interstellar space 
(we do not know enough the conditions there)
far away from the Sun (especially important for maser/laser beam technology -
recall the aiming problem), at cruise speed (significant fraction
of lightspeed) and for long time operation (is the engine durable enogh?).
You cannot test all this points adequately within our system.

>  A bigger concern whould be what material is in interstellar space.  If as
> one theory suggests, theirs traces of lots of lose carbon molecules in deep
> space.  Runing into them at near light speeds could be real hard on a ship.
>  It would also shread a starwhisp or micro wave sail very quickly.
> Probably we'ld have to assume the worst and build in counter measures. Like
> per blast a area of interstellar space with the big maser area and see what
> glowed, and launch a dust cloude ahead of the ship to blast a path clear.
Sorry, I would not risk my life with such only theoretically
working technology, even with Kelly giving me his word of honor
that it will surely work for the whole round-trip...

> From: KellySt@aol.com
> The geology and stuff would be interesting. But if the robots got that much
> info, why send the people?  (a major question we never successfully
> resolved.)  
As for my satisfaction, I have resolved it long ago.
E.g. -- just because there are many people 
that WANT to be there in person...

Less romantically speaking, one of the tasks that robotic probes
(of the sort that will be send as pathfinders before manned missions)
certainly cannot do is (human) colonization of other planets
and planetary systems.
Personally, I consider just the colonization to be the ultimate practical
reason for space exploration (near-sol or interstellar).

Hence my scenario:
- robotis probes (to test adequately the technology and obtain 
  necessary data (necessary for further stages, 
  not for mere scientific curiosity) that are 
  hard to obtain by other means;
- one-way, outpost-building missions to selected targets;
- if the returns are convincing -- the follow-up colonization missions.

If there will be enough people wanting to go there and back again
(round-trip enthusiasts), they may go too, why not, provided they find
the money (and technology) to build them luxury tourist liners  ;-)

-- Zenon