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RE: starship-design: Bussard drive


You may want to reconsider the following:

>Second, the upper limit on velocity IS NOT the exhaust velocity of the
>engine, go back to your freshman physics book if you don't believe me, and I
>don't care who you've been reading. With enough reaction mass, you can get
>to light speed by THROWING tennis balls off the back of the Santa Maria!

Unfortunately that reaction mass has to be accelerated by the ship to
transfer  momentum. The trouble is that the reaction mass is already having
a large velocity (0.1c) relative to the ship, because it is scooped. So to
add velocity (accelerate) to the particles, the exhaust velocity has to be
larger than 0.1c.

On the Santa Maria one doesn't scoop particles, but instead the particles
are at assumed to be stored on the ship. This makes it easy to accelerate
So the comparison with the Santa Maria is totally off.