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RE: starship-design: scoops and sails and something to push against.

Jeez Adam,

Excuse me while I re-plate the contacts on my modem card...it got kind of
hot <G>.

Several months ago I began a project which I posted a preview link to on my
website, outlining a timeline for the next 50 to 100 years. I got some
really good suggestions and some replies that it looked more like fiction
than a serious discussion relevant to this list.

It had a purpose however, and your diatribe hits precisely home. My point
then was (and still is) that we are attempting to define technologies and
design a ship without considering the infrastructure required to make ANY of
this possible. As you and Steve both intimate, there is more to building a
starship than throwing a bunch of hardware together and aiming it at the
nearest star.

I am still working on this timeline and I have spent a great deal of time
studying what not only NASA, but various private organizations and
individuals have put forward regarding known technologies and expected
advancements. Facts like the expected flight test of a VASIMR engine in
2005, successful laboratory testing of hybrid antimatter/fusion drives, etc.

The biggest thing we have to deal with though is NOT technology, its
infrastructure. Without the space based mining, manufacturing and production
infrastructure with years of experience in building functional, reliable,
dependable spacecraft - well we aren't going. I think that 2050 is maybe a
little soon for that kind of infrastructure. maybe I'm wrong, the American
frontier was certainly settled sooner, but I don't think so.

The major road block today is our various government's involvement in space
exploration. Unless we can get the private sector heavily involved in the
development of space, it will be two or three hundred years until we get to
a point where we can send out an interstellar probe.

In one thing at least you are right, when we do go, it will be in fleets.
Not necessarily all to one star system, but there will be hundreds and even
thousands of ships going out, to every star within reach, all looking for
one thing - a new chance on a new world.