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Re: starship-design: One way (again...)

L. Parker wrote:

>Several months ago I made the statement that there is more incentive to 
>stay in space where power is cheap, resources are plentiful and 
>(comparatively) easy to get at. So I really have a hard time seeing why 
>anyone would want to go to another star just to _settle_ on a planet.

Resources on a planet are much more plentiful than in space, and
much easier to get at (for the inhabitants).  Furthermore, building
habitats on a planet is much simpler than in space, because you get
radiation and space debris shielding for free.

>If you bear that in mind, and look at the mission profile as one that is 
>designed to begin building an outpost in orbit in that system for the 
>purpose of continuing exploration and creating a spaceborne infrastructure 
>for follow on missions, only some of which might be concerned with actually 
>landing on a planet, then it is not a one way mission. Nor is it exactly a 
>colonization mission.

IMO, this mission is still too ambitious for a first manned mission.
A first manned mission cannot expect to get _any_ resources from the
target system, because that first system will be the planetless Alpha
Centauri system.

I don't think an unmanned flyby probe would be able to find usable
resources even if they were there to be found (because it would
lack the human creativity to recognize and scientificaly interpret
something unexpected).  With the 8 year two-way time delays, I
don't think an unmanned 1-way probe would work out either.

If there are resources to be exploited, then a 1-way manned mission
is the way to find it.

>It is a team of scientists, and engineers and technicians with a definite 
>purpose - build a fully self sustaining outpost in orbit around another 
>star. Once they have done that they can then build power stations to 
>produce more fuel so that 2-way travel becomes more practicable.

I think that we can send them there with the hope that they'll find
something they can turn into something useful, but trying to build
power stations from the hydrogen and helium of Alpha Centauran
solar winds is trying to squeeze water out of graphite.

Our best hope would be if their Oort clouds had useful substances
and/or there are unexpected useful planetoids.  I don't think we'd
be able to get more than a cursory glance at these things before
going there ourselves, though.

>There would be additional personnel arriving on follow on missions
>and maybe eventually some of the original personnel might even get
>to go home.

This, I imagine, would largely depend on what human lifespans were
like when the first manned mission was performed.
    _____     Isaac Kuo kuo@bit.csc.lsu.edu http://www.csc.lsu.edu/~kuo
/___________\ "Mari-san...  Yokatta...
\=\)-----(/=/  ...Yokatta go-buji de..." - Karigari Hiroshi