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"L. Parker" wrote:

> has quite a bit of merit. Programmable Gate Arrays are just now beginning to
> come back into their own and can rival even the latest Pentium processors in
> power. More so in that for a particular application, you can literally hard
> wire the code into the processor resulting in blindingly fast execution.
> Want to change the application? Just "reprogram" the gates, presto, a new
> dedicated processor.

Also in price too, looking at the larger gate arrays they $400 us and
The software to program them is a arm and leg too.

> I think you should probably add a few zeroes to this figure, but it still
> makes more sense than a dedicated fab plant.

Yep the latest machines cost several billion $.
If one where to limit to about 1983's technogy - 64k dynamic ram
68000,286 and 2 inch waffers you could make something for 
a lot less.( This is the my personal goal).

Thinking more on this, manufaturing of all kinds
will have to be done at some point - machine shop - semi-conductors.
While not needed on the first few trips,keeping a lower standard
in design will make less of a problem later.

> >
> > The real difference is that you have to get used to the
> > concept that in
> > some things, such as modern electronics, you are often better
> > off to throw
> > a bunch of parts at a simple task than to make something custom.
> Kelly already discovered this with consumables. It turns out that weight
> wise it is easier and more economical to carry stores than to attempt to
> implement a completely self sustaining closed eco system for any trip less
> than about a hundred years. Most of us here are not trying to build a
> generation ship anyway, so the same reasoning applies. Design the ship to
> last for the length of the voyage plan on some repairs, use modular
> components wherever possible, and cross your fingers...

The key word is "completely self sustaining", a 90% self sustaining
be desirable with a 80% a realistic design.

> Practical idea in theory, and it may be the only way. However, logistically,
> it will not be anywhere as easy as you make it sound. I tend to prefer the
> first mission as a Pathfinder mission, specialized crew of around ten to
> twenty, LOTS of computer support, running fast and light. It would be sent
> to targets that had already been identified as special in some way, such as
> the presence of Oxygen in the spectrum of its planets.
This I think would be better scouted with un-manned probes.
The pathfinder mission still would need few slower support freighters.

> The Explorer mission would follow only after a Pathfinder reported back that
> there was a reason for more extensive exploration, such as a potentially
> habitable planet, or perhaps just to study life already there. This mission
> would actually be a small fleet consisting of the Explorer ship itself, and
> several freighters slaved to the Explorer. The freighters would carry
> spares, extra supplies, machinery, tools, and intrasystem craft including
> landers. The Explorer mission would consist of several hundred to several
> thousand people, enough to establish at least a permanent research presence,
> including establishing mining and manufacturing operations sufficient to
> support the mission and any follow on missions.
> The last mission would be the Caravan mission. This is the big one. The
> colonists would arrive in one or more very large ships, hopefully in some
> sort of cryo sleep to conserve mass, so that the trip would go faster with
> fewer support craft or resupplies. Tools, supplies and machinery needed by
> the colonists would already be there ahead of them, built by the automated
> factories put in place by the Explorer crew.
> I agree that FTL probably won't happen any time soon, and that isn't the
> purpose of this list anyway. I DO think we will be able to reach close to
> the speed of light with derivatives of today's technology within a hundred
> years. It is after all really nothing more than a brute force application of
> things we already know or suspect how to do.
> Lee

"We do not inherit our time on this planet from our parents...
 We borrow it from our children."
The Lagging edge of technology: