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Re: starship-design: Suspended Animation
Kelly St wrote:
> In a message dated 5/8/98 7:13:32 AM, email@example.com wrote:
> >If our exploration vessel requires as much maintenance as even one aircraft
> >carrier it won't make it there. Drawing analogies from other Earth (or
> >water) bound vessels is always tricky. In some ways it would be better to
> >use a nuclear submarine for comparison purposes.
> Subs don't carry fleets of support vehicals. So a carrier might be a closer
> >> To maintain a craft the size of a fleet of aircraft carriers?
> >> Kelly
Automation and AI can make for a virtually self-running ship or fleet or airplane. Even applying present-day technology. It is not done because, on earth, people (and human life) are cheaper than machines. Habit is also a preponderant factor.
Military craft tend to be built "people-intensive". A rational, peaceful, and commercial mission would resemble an oil tanker + industrial plant much more than a military craft. Oil tankers and automated industrial plants are, nowadays, very automated and - if anything - over-crewed in attention to tradition, politics (out-dated regulations, emotional issues, etc.), unions and so on.
If a drastic efficiency-boosting event were to happen, such as another world war that drained the available work-force, automated sea and air convoys would quickly become the norm - dictated by necessity.
The main problem seems to be supplying self-servicing ship (or fleet), not making it self-servicing. It would have to carry along its own raw materials and supply industry. Automated versions of something like Hong-Kong or Shanghais multi-purpose factories / "mini-" machine-shops (a sight to be seen) could make it work. Everything would not have to be made at the same time. The same space / resources could serve multiple functions, depending on necessity.
Extensive raw materials might be "picked-up" from the asteroid belt and the Oort cloud. Or they could be "pushed" on ahead along the ship / fleets path. Mini automated factories (or pre-processing plants) might be sent along with them.
You would not need people to do the hard-hat and technical work. Robots, AI, and expert systems "taken" from earths foremost specialist minds would do it. That includes maintaining the robots themselves. This includes work in envirnments much too harsh for humans, without the penalties for decompression, stress... etc. Humans might only be necessary from mid-management upwards. Since most management time is spent ministering human frailties and sensibilities, that requirement is also greatly reduced. Humans would be needed solely for upper-level decision and direction.