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Re: RE: starship-design: Interstellar mission within fifty years

In a message dated 10/8/98 11:29:38 AM, zkulpa@zmit1.ippt.gov.pl wrote:

>> > It must of course start from building
>> > permanent human habitats in space and on other planets/moons.
>> Not necessarily, these _could_ be automated or even teleoperated in some
>> cases. But admittedly, we would vastly prefer a human presence for our own
>> reasons <G>.
>First, actual complex mines and factories cannot yet be fully
>automated without human supervision, and will not without
>real breakthroughs in AI and nanotechnology.

Largely agree, but nano tech is not a requirement.

>Teleoperation is also infeasible for interplanetary distances
>(remember Sojourner...), even on the Moon 
>(ask Russian drivers of Lunokhods...).


>Second, our starship should be a viable "permanent human 
>habitat in space", and rather large for that.
>How to build one without any prior experience?
>Do you think that the very first human space habitat will be 
>that going to another star?

Theres no reason a starship would need to be a perminent habitatate and a lot
of real good reasons why it couldn't/shouldn't be.  Size and weight being real
biggees.  That fact we probably couldn't make it work being a better one.
Frankly I don't think a full sized O'Niel could be completly self sufficent.

>> > Also, the progress in this area is excruciatingly slow -
>> > it is even more annoying than the slow progress in point (1) above,
>> > as the progress in this area already needs no essential breakthroughs
>> > in science or technology, only the will and money.
>> Umm, I would submit that it is more a matter of acquiring a historical tech
>> base of what works and what doesn't, which only happens in direct relation
>> to how much time we spend doing things in space to acquire this knowledge.
>> Sort of pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps. It will get better as 
>> we go along, probably a LOT better.
>True, but we should START going in the first place.
>Apollo seemed such a start - but after that first step,
>we made two steps back.

Actually in a lot of ways Apollo was the two steps back.  Air Force programs
in the '60's leading toward mini space shuttles were scuttled to help pay for
space capsules.  Also it gave NASA ownership of space that they have viciously

>With current attitudes, it is not going, but crawling,
>and not always ahead.
>Say, Pathfinder was a nice toy, but no number of Pathfinders
>will build the necessary space infrastructure.

Big agree.

>So naming it a "Sagan Station" sounds rather denigrating 
>(for Sagan).

Actually Sagan might have liked it.  He HATED the idea of maned space
exploration and colonizatino.  Went crazy at a meeting where equipment to mine
fuel from Phoboes was discused.  He wanted space left prestine for robots and
science probes.

>> > Summing up, if something does not, rather dramatically,
>> > change the attitudes and goals of humanity concerning space,
>> > the probability of launching a starship within fifty years
>> > is very, very low.
>> Well, there is that. Of course, as has already been said elsewhere (Warp
>> Drive When?) if we discover a habitable planet around another star, the
>> public will want to know why we haven't _already_ invented a warp drive!
>I doubt seriously if we discover a habitable planet
>around another star. Kelly seems right here - it will
>be either inhabitable, or deadly.


>Moreover, so what? I do not think the public will care much,
>unless general attitudes toward space exploration change significantly.
>Hence I also consider SETI to be currently more of a distraction
>than help.

SETI is a no start, but the public is interested in space, they just gave up
on NASA boldly going back to the same place they got way beyond in the '60's
and killing more folks doing it.

>> Your club is a good start, 
>Thank you.
>Americans have such clubs aplenty and are certainly the foremost
>spacefaring nation in today's world. Most other nations are
>in deep freeze here (except, possibly, Japanese), 
>but including most Europeans, despite ESA. 
>Our humble attempt is to rouse some interest in space exploration, 
>mostly among Poles. We are also involved in organizing
>the Polish Chapter of Mars Society.
>We will see if it produces any effects on this side 
>of the Big Puddle.
>> there are also other avenues that help. 
>> ANYTHING that encourages the commercial use of space should be helped
>> Commercialization of space will result in the fastest overall growth path.
>Here I fully agree. 

Also agree

>-- Zenon Kulpa