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      CommentAuthorstsparky
    • CommentTimeMay 8th 2008
     (2145.61)
    I'm for mining the moon for H^3.

    And I think inside the asteroids is where we'd want to live. Larry Niven did a bit on this with the 1970's state of the art space tech.

    I would be game to figure a way to snatch Jupiter's lesser satellites out of their orbits and smash them into Mars. Earth's core is heavy. Mar's isn't. I suspect Mar's poles aren't stable. And I suspect we haven't begun to appreciate our moon's gifts.
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      CommentAuthorCamyLuna
    • CommentTimeMay 8th 2008
     (2145.62)
    Since time is subjective, what would the travelers find when they came home from their ten year trip to God knows where?

    Any successful effort at establishing an infrastructure for space exploration and colonization is going to be a one way trip for most people at least in the first few centuries. It was a one way trip for most people when the New World was first settled - until technology caught up and made travel back and forth easy and affordable. I think that it would be similar for space travel, as well. And it would take years just to get a settlement going.

    Are people willing to invest - both personally and financially - in these types of very long term endeavors anymore? I think that there are people out there that would do it, but probably not individuals with qualities that governments or corporations would want to send. Also, could you imagine showing a corporate finance department a project with a return on investment of about 500 years. Not many investors could stomach that.
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      CommentAuthorm1k3y
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2008
     (2145.63)
    Are people willing to invest - both personally and financially - in these types of very long term endeavors anymore? I think that there are people out there that would do it, but probably not individuals with qualities that governments or corporations would want to send.


    um, have you been on the internet? it's full of software, hardware, biology people itching for the opportunity.

    Also, could you imagine showing a corporate finance department a project with a return on investment of about 500 years. Not many investors could stomach that.


    Dot Com zillionaires are already throwing their money where their dreams are. Especially that crew Neal Stephenson's hanging with. The next five years should be interesting in that respect.
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      CommentAuthorOsmosis
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2008
     (2145.64)
    Any successful effort at establishing an infrastructure for space exploration and colonization is going to be a one way trip for most people at least in the first few centuries.

    Just on that point, there are those willing to take up that offer:

    Here is an idea: Send battle-hardened, strong-minded soldiers and marines on the long trips into space. We are conditioned to live with the bare minimal (of) life’s necessities and are trained to be prepared for … the worst conditions that any environment could throw at us.

    Hell, me and my men will go, set up a colony somewhere and await colonists to arrive.


    Link.


    Whether or not you do want to send the USMC to outer space (time until Aliens reference ... 3... 2...), it seems there are people out there with big enough boots to give the one-way ticket a try.
  1.  (2145.65)
    Send battle-hardened, strong-minded soldiers and marines on the long trips into space. We are conditioned to live with the bare minimal (of) life’s necessities and are trained to be prepared for … the worst conditions that any environment could throw at us.

    Devil's Advocate: Say you send that group of veterans off to build a colony. They could end up alone there for years, in a hostile, alien enviornment. There would be deaths, possible quite a few. Illness, cancers from radiation exposure, boredom, all this contributing to PTSD or other mental illness. If they're only (ONLY) going to Mars, there is considerable communication lag time and simply getting a signal clear and secure to Mars would be an undertaking unto itself. Modern military personnel can have video chats with loved ones from the war zone or even call people on cell phones from combat. In short, you might have a seriously not fun group of Marines sitting in Basecamp Bradbury at the foot of Olympus Mons.

    Then a bunch of water-fat colonists show up looking for their greenhouses.

    That could end...badly.
  2.  (2145.66)
    Funnily enough, a lot of this ties into a series idea I've been developing (very slowly, obviously) since the 90s.

    There are, frankly, two ways of going to space. Slow and clean, and fast and dirty. Some people favour the former because, to paraphrase (I thin) Kim Stanley Robinson, we should arrive at Mars with some class.

    Others point out that, really, no-one's looking, and we don't get extra points for doing it with a space windmill or something. So why the fuck shouldn't we develop a nuclear 1G drive that turns Neptune into a 30-day round trip?

    Martian bases, much like moonbases, would have to be mostly underground, because there's no atmos or magfield to fend off radiation. Mars requires serious alteration just to make living in domes safe and comfortable. The general consensus right now, I believe, is that we shouldn't do that, and must preserve and respect the Martian environment.
  3.  (2145.67)
    The general consensus right now, I believe, is that we shouldn't do that, and must preserve and respect the Martian environment.

    Unless some great fucking tripods start crawling out of the red soil I don't see why we should.

    I remember, as a kid, reading about thickening the martian atmosphere and how terra-forming was the way to go. Now there's a martian Greenpeace? To save what? Rocks?

    Why not change the environment to suit our needs as a sentient lifeform? Claiming the whole solar system in the name of humanity, a species wide manifest destiny.
  4.  (2145.68)
    Considering the results of the last manifest destiny, I have to say caution might not be such a bad idea. Why not set up a research station with some good, solid radiation shielding and let a group of geologists and biologists study the place for a few years to make sure we wouldn't be destroying subterranean (submartian?) life or unleashing some hideous virus by terraforming the place? We can spare a little research time for the sake of safety and conscience.
    • CommentAuthorfro
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2008
     (2145.69)
    Potential space elevator alternative - Launch Loop
    It sounds (to me) a bit more likely to work, although the sheer size of it and energy needed to operate is still rather mind-boggling.
    If you were interested in a one-way exploration trip then using it to orbit bits of a larger spacecraft and a crew and assembling it in orbit before moving it off to colonise Mars or whatever would probably be possible, assuming you could break the thing down into pieces of a size that the launch loop could launch.
    Maybe you'd have to use too many pieces for a colonisation vehicle, but a large exploration craft with a nuclear engine sounds plausible doesn't it?

    Failing that it could also be used to construct a space station bigger and more on schedule than the ISS.
  5.  (2145.70)
    Considering the results of the last manifest destiny, I have to say caution might not be such a bad idea. Why not set up a research station with some good, solid radiation shielding and let a group of geologists and biologists study the place for a few years to make sure we wouldn't be destroying subterranean (submartian?) life or unleashing some hideous virus by terraforming the place? We can spare a little research time for the sake of safety and conscience.

    I'm with you on the virus aspect, but if the choice is between preserving the native microbes and making a habitable planet using our evil monkey brain science, I choose the latter.
    • CommentAuthorrough night
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2008 edited
     (2145.71)
    It would depend on the size and complexity of the life of course. Microbes - fuck 'em unless we can study and disect them to cure cancer. Alien plants and a couple bugs eating them, hmm, let's move a bunch to a satellite space terrarium and then terraform. Anything more complex, and I'd have a problem, mainly because anything more and you're talking about complex ecosystems rather than simple life. That said, it doesn't look like there's potential for anything on mars past the microbe level anyway, but some serious pre-terraform study would still be interesting and possibly useful, especially since the planet would be essentially smashed and remade by the terraforming process (smash some massive metal filled astroids into it is the first step as I understand it) and we'd never get that chance again.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2008
     (2145.72)
    RE "battle hardened" vets leading the way:

    The big challenges awaiting space colonists will be utter boredom, sensory deprivation, vital equipment going wonky, miserably bland diets, and tedious scut work. There's some overlap there with military field life, but it's not unique to it. Submariners might be a better fit.
  6.  (2145.73)
    Submariners might be a better fit.

    Even there, a really long tour on a sub is a matter of weeks below surface. Months or even years in cramped quarters with the same faces?

    Genetic engineering and biotech might give an answer. Say if someone can self-regulate their autonomic functions, sleep at a whim as oppsosed to tossing and turning in a cramped bunk. Or suppressing anti-social tendencies and sexual aggression. Granted, you're monkeying with some very interconnected systems there, but building a better astronaut might be ideal.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2008
     (2145.74)
    I should plug Winchell Chung's Atomic Rockets page here:

    Atomic Rockets

    Winch is a true mad nerd genius.

    Offa the toppa my head:

    Really good chemical rocket: 5kph thrust velocity
    NERVA fission thermal rocket: 8kph thrust velocity
    Modern conception thermal rocket: 10kpb thrust velocity
    Gaseous fission thermal rocket: 11kph thrust velocity
    Existing solar powered ion thruster: 31 kph " "
    Proposed antimatter thermal rocket: 50kpg thrust velocity
    Original Project Orion nuclear bomb rocket: estimated 100kph thrust velocity
    Theoretical inertial confinement fusion rocket: 700 kph " "
    Theoretical magnetic confinement fusion rocket: 1,300 kph " "

    There's all sorts of tradeoffs and gotchas. Orion needs a giant steel plate and shock absorbers so there's a lot of dead weight you have to carry around. Any nuclear reactor rocket is going to have to haul around great whopping big radiators. Fusion rockets have very, very low thrust, and the "combustion chamber" has to be huge. The antimatter rocket mentioned above has a massive tungsten allow cylinder used as a heat transfer device . . . you shoot antihydrogen at it, it heats up by efficiently intercepting the gamma rays, and passes this on to the reaction mass.
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      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2008
     (2145.75)
    I'm with Orwells on the genegineering solution. We can make a human custom-built for any environment we come across - with enough advancement in the field, we might even be able to make a human that can not only withstand the radiation in the Jovian system, but one whose skin eats that stuff up and converts it into biological energy. Now, that's about as pie-in-the-sky as colonizing the Jovian moons themselves, but it's not impossible.

    Would cybernetics also be a possible solution? I'm not as well-versed on that subject.

    Fro, that launch-loop idea sounds promising. Maybe use it as a mass-driver to send up construction materials from Earth and construct our ship in orbit. I'm a little dubious of putting people on that thing though - the Wikipedia article didn't make it sound terribly safe. I'd prefer to keep sending personnel up in smaller, reusable shuttles.
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      CommentAuthorEgon
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2008
     (2145.76)
    Meat grown in labs will come in quite handy for space travel

    Also, I just want to say that, imo, this is the most interesting thread on the board. Keep it up, people.
  7.  (2145.77)
    Does anyone know if there's much in the way of research into alloys produced in zero-G?
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      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2008
     (2145.78)
    Here's the NASA site on that subject. It's kinda sparse, though: Metals and Alloy Overview
    • CommentAuthorfro
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2008 edited
     (2145.79)
    @Artemis

    That's (edit: the construction in orbit thing, I type too slow) an interesting idea, especially since by the time such a thing becomes feasible this and this will have undoubtedly have advanced a great deal to the point where a large and efficient automated shipyard could be feasible. Maybe a single self-replicating constructor could be parked in orbit and supplied with materials to make more of itself until it could construct manned and unmanned spacecraft based on designs sent from whoever was running it in a reasonably short amount of time.

    Or it could achieve sentience and start building bombs to drop on us, who knows? I'd say it's worth the risk.
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      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2008
     (2145.80)
    Well, in that case we just send someone up on an old Energia rocket armed with computer-virus blasting assault rifles. Easy!

    If you think about it, orbital construction, especially of a large Orion-style craft, makes a lot more sense than launching the whole thing at once from Earth. No kidding, one of the things that bothered me about Star Trek: Voyager was that the ship was built on Mt. McKinley - what the fuck, right? Though I hasten to add that I'd much rather have human beings up there to monitor the construction than just beaming Maya models up and letting the 3D printer do its thing. And the higher up, the better, like a geosynchronous orbit over somewhere nice and uninhabitable, like the open Pacific. Also, the higher up we go the more earth's magnetosphere will protect us from the radioactive blast of a nuclear-propelled ship, which I still think is the best way to get anywhere with today's technology. Wait a hundred years or so and we can switch to fusion torches, but I'd rather get up and going sooner rather than later.