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Re: RE: starship-design: Infrastructure in space

In a message dated 4/26/00 1:05:35 AM, stevev@efn.org writes:

>KellySt@aol.com writes:
> > We're around a middle aged star.  Its got another 4-5 billion years
>in it.  I 
> > can't see that being a major driver.  Not to mention unless we develop
> > ships that could carry millions of people we couldn't set up viable
> > sufficent colonies on other stars.
>That's making the assumption that one has to have millions of people
>around to make all the various bits of technology needed for a
>self-sufficient technological society.
>It's not untenable, although not soon to happen, that automated
>production methods using robots or nanotech could produce a fairly
>compact general-purpose assembler that could be used to
>self-sufficiently manufacture the kinds of things it takes millions of
>people to manufacture now (when you count obtaining and refining raw
>materials, running the various social structures needed, etc.).

Assuming all current industrial processes, and the interaction between skilled
 manufacturing staffs and industrial infastructure, is replaced is a bit of a 
streach for this conversation.  ;)  To put put it mildly, that would 
invalidate virtually all of our conversations.  Also the olds of it happening 
in a century or two ae not at all good.

>One of the things I see you do over and over again, Kelly, is assume
>that the current constraints on space travel and technology will always
>be true from now on.  Space travel won't always be in the hands of NASA
>or government bureaucracy; current economic conditions and constraints
>won't last forever; technology won't always be just what we have now.
>If you're talking about the near-term problems with building space
>infrastructure, then the kind of assumptions you make aren't too
>unreasonable, but your assumptions will be long dead when we actually do
>build interstellar spacecraft.  You may as well say that the technology
>we have now couldn't really exist because of limitations of medieval
>technology and government.

Not at all.  Certainly for the constraints of LIT we need to stick to what 
could happen in the next few decades, but even currently NASA isn't the big 
player (certainly never was the big facilitator) in space travel.  Ceratinly 
my discussion of lowering cost to orbit shows that.

I do assume normal rules of economics and colonization will remain.  You 
won't do something that isn't valued over its cost.  You won't settle 
anywhere unless its economically profitable.  Etc.  These have held across 
millenia of history and vast shifts in social and political organization.  
(Even across species.)  So they should hold in any reasonble distence into 
the future.

I asume we could technically build interstellar craft, of the types we've 
outlined in LIT, in 50 years.  We couldn't afford them without some major 
industrial process changes by then, and much past then the changes in our 
physics knowledge would change the basic designs and economics.