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

On Tuesday, December 09, 1997 9:55 AM, Isaac Kuo [SMTP:kuo@bit.csc.lsu.edu] 

> 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.

Yes, planets have more total resources perhaps, but typically they are not 
as concentrated, and definitely harder to get at. Current concepts for 
orbital mining and manufacturing use the tailings to build shielding which 
is more than adequate for any conceivable circumstance short of a nova. As 
far as easy of construction, I will grant that we have very little 
experience with this right now, but fifty years from now it either won't be 
an issue or we won't be going, period. Or were you planning on building the 
ship on the ground?

> 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.

Perhaps it is ambitious, but I think it is really the most likely way of 
doing a successful program. BTW, where did you by your telescope? I want 
one too. I didn't know there weren't ANY planets around Alpha Centauri.

> 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.

Probably true.

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

If we establish that there are no planets there, then obviously we wouldn't 
attempt this kind of mission. Then again, we probably wouldn't send ANY 


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