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

In a message dated 10/7/98 9:58:22 AM, david@playlink.com wrote:

>> ----------
>> From: 	Steve VanDevender[SMTP:stevev@efn.org]
>> Sent: 	Tuesday, October 06, 1998 9:28 PM
>> Subject: 	Re:  Re:  Re: starship-design: scoops and sails and
>> something to push against.
>> I'm willing to concede that; there's no guarantee that by 2050
>> we'll have the technology or the willingness as a society to
>> stage an interstellar exploration mission.
>> Is the original target goal of the Lunar Institute of Technology
>> still feasible?  I don't know, but the possibility of manned
>> starflight by 2050, without some major adjustments in society and 
>> technology, is beginning to look a bit slim.
>Well, I think we can all agree that it is economically unlikely for an
>interstellar mission to be launched within the next fifty years.  I
>suppose one might ask the question whether or not that matters?  I think
>the original idea was to discuss the mission from a more technical
>standpoint, although I certainly wouldn't want to exclude other
>discussions.  Would it be worthwhile to instead discuss the question:
>"How would we get to a nearby star given that there is a directive to go
>(the reason being irrelevant) and that there are unlimited funds (well,
>limited by the planet's resources), launching in 2050?"  Or would
>everyone feel uncomfortable with a discussion on that level?
>Now, by "unlimited funds" I don't mean building a starship the size of
>our moon - there's still a question of what we can physically accomplish
>by the time the launch deadline comes around.  If we took the next fifty
>years to build something (coming up with something enormous) we'd be
>limited by a design of today (i.e. fission, sail, etc).  If we want to
>use a design from 2040 (i.e. fusion, maybe antimatter), we'd have to be
>able to build it in ten years.
>Or, do we think that there is simply technically no way we could launch
>an interstellar mission within fifty years?  I suppose we have to define
>"interstellar mission" - after all, the Voyager spacecraft are already
>on such a mission.  So, let's say the definition is simple: a manned
>mission that travels to the very closest star system, Proxima Centauri,
>within the working lifetime of the crew (i.e. they are physically
>capable crew when the mission starts and when the mission arrives).  I
>don't even care about the return trip just yet (we can get to that
>next).  Will it be possible or not?
>My gut instinct tells me "yes", but at a dramatic cost.  What does
>everyone else think?

Technically possible almost certainly yes, but at a stagering cost.  But then
who in 1919 would have thought we could afford Saturn-V rockets by 1969.


>David Levine                        david@playlink.com
>Director of Development       http://www.playlink.com/
>PlayLink                                (212) 387-8200
>Professional Driver.  Closed Track.  Do not attempt.