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RE: starship-design: FTL travel
> Ben Franchuk wrote:
> That is true, but lets remember most of mans great works
> have not made money... pyramids ... great cathedrals .. the mona lisa
> painting... it is only in the last 5000 years has man got greedy
> and needs to charge $ for everything.
Oh, but the pyramids DID cost $, lots of it. It was made from stone and
brick and mortar and the sweat and blood of craftsmen and slaves. All of
these things had value then as they do now. The Sistine chapel was paid for
in currency, the Mona Lisa (not a good example) was a commission. The
difference is nil; typically, a GOVERNMENT paid for those monuments, just as
the US government paid for that little flag sitting on Moon.
I am not saying that we won't go to another star, I am saying that it will
be government funded for a LONG time. It will continue to be done as a
"monument" - "see, I was here", not as part of a commercial enterprise.
The commercialization of space WILL happen, but it will be intrasystem for a
long, long time. We will harvest our asteroids, our comets, our moons and
eventually even the Oort cloud, but until interstellar travel becomes dirt
cheap, at least as cheap as intrasystem travel, it won't be done by
commercial concerns which unlike governments are driven by profit motives.
Borrowing a page from SF writers, there is a point where it will become
cheap enough to support a colony that is looking to escape Earth's influence
or just do their own thing, but even these missions will come long after the
first government sponsored probes return. The colonist's won't be driven by
a profit motive, but will still be constrained by the cost of the mission,
which most likely will be less within fifty to a hundred years.
Time frame? I still believe that the first probes may leave within fifty
years. Perhaps a manned science mission within 75 - 100 years. This
presupposes that there are no "breakthroughs" of course. One of the key
requirements will take fifty years to put in place - infrastructure.
We have NO space-based manufacturing infrastructure at all. It will require
a substantial presence in Earth orbit, solar orbit, lunar orbit, etc. to
build any large interstellar vessel. It takes time to build such an
infrastructure and TRILLIONS of dollars. Which means that there has to be
some other, profit-based motivation capable of supporting such a large
industrial base. As we have just seen, interstellar travel will not provide
such a motive.
Now let us talk about something that WILL provide a profit motive.
Knowledge. If we were to discover not just an inhabitable planet, but an
inhabited planet. Even if it wasn't as technically advanced as we, the
cross-referencing of knowledge alone could be worth far more than anyone
could imagine. An obscure drug to cure cancer, a better understanding of the
process of life that leads to anti-aging treatments, a new chemical process
that allows the creation of better computers. Who knows, the list is
Even though these are all speculative profits, corporations do understand
them and routinely base their planning and spending upon them. To sum it up,
government spending will get us to the stars, commercial motives will keep
us there. There will likely be a definite ordered progression in the