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starship-design: Re: The Great Debate

On Tuesday, December 09, 1997 10:57 AM, Isaac Kuo 
[SMTP:kuo@bit.csc.lsu.edu] wrote:
> The affordability of the powerful deceleration leg fusion rocket
> (that we can afford it at all) suggests we have similar fusion
> power generation capability which is relatively affordable.
> Given the plentiful inexpensive energy everywhere, who's going
> to need beam power?

I don't really care which you use, but there is a small flaw in both of 
your reasoning here. The FUEL for the fusion rocket (or power plant) comes 
from somewhere, which requires energy to extract. In the case of an 
antimatter rocket, we have proposed building orbital power satellites to 
power giant cyclotrons (or whatever better device we come up with) for the 
sole purpose of manufacturing antimatter so that we can use it to produce 
fuel. The energy always has to come from somewhere, in this case, solar 
radiation -> antimatter -> nuclear radiation.

What isn't clear here is that EVERY step is inefficient to greater or le  
sser degree. These inefficiencies will govern which one is most economical 
which will be one of the factors we have to consider. One of Isaac's 
arguments is the inefficiency of the beamed power concept over interstellar 
distances, and he is right. But within the immediate area of the Sun it is 
very efficient and far cheaper than standard fission/fusion.

So for local power, Kelly is right (sort of) and for interstellar 
propulsion, Isaac is right (sort of).


                                                      (o o)

"I share no man's opinions; I have my own."

			-Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev, Fathers and Sons, 1862