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      CommentAuthorstsparky
    • CommentTimeMay 10th 2008
     (2145.101)
    Expendable balloons that take a ship 20/30 miles up - then launch? Might deal with the cost issue. It's stupid to build a sky hook all the way into Earth's surface, but a tower and hook combo would work. And mass drivers for cargo? I thought we'd have seen this by now.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeMay 10th 2008
     (2145.102)
    Some sounding rockets got a head start via balloon. It's a cheap lift above the denser bits of the atmosphere; your rocket motor doesn't use as much of its capacity pushing aside air and more getting to altitude.

    The REAL bitch for getting into orbit isn't altitude, but velocity. You need to be going about 27,000 kph parallel to the Earth's surface to get into low Earth orbit.

    This is why a pure mass driver solution isn't feasible. A big accelerator might be able to get a payload capsule up to orbital velocity . . . but it would be at ground level! 27,000 kph at GROUND LEVEL! Sucker would burn up. What you might do is use an accelerator to get a cargo rocket going, replacing the equivalent of a first stage. Or the "rocket" could be in part a reusable ramjet, which would use oxygen from the air rather than carrying the liquid stuff. That would get it up to the edge of the atmosphere, then an actual rocket stage would do the orbital insertion.
  1.  (2145.103)
    Hey! I just remember this New Scientist article on Burkhard Heim. Anti-gravity and Hyperspace! I had all these articles in links but lost them in a computer crash a couple of years ago and had forgotten up until today. Warrenellis either had this link or something similar to it on his website...
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      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2008
     (2145.104)
    Whoa. I completely got lost after the second paragraph, but if it's as oddly possible as it sounds...well, two questions.

    First, couldn't they come up with a cooler name than hyperdrive?

    Second, for the physicists here, how feasible is this?
  2.  (2145.105)
    Heim was a math genius. Apparently his theories hadn't been touched for a while simply because the population that can comprehend that level of math are far and few between...
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2008
     (2145.106)
    Well that and the fact he only published about six papers, most of the in popular science magazines not peer-reviewed journals, worked in German and refused to allow his work to be translated into English, refused to answer correspondence from other scientists interested in his work and made up his own mathematical notation on the fly without bothering to record the definitions.
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      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2008
     (2145.107)
    Sounds like a mad genius. I don't feel quite so bad about not understanding any of that stuff, then.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2008
     (2145.108)
    He was blinded and lost both his hands in a lab explosion during world War II. He was brilliant enough to get his doctorate in Physics under incredibly difficult circumstances in post-war Germany. (His wife had to read all his textbooks to him and he had to dictate all his coursework to her.)

    He was sort of the real world Baron Zemo.
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      CommentAuthorm1k3y
    • CommentTimeMay 15th 2008
     (2145.109)
    bumping this baby back up.

    have people read this:
    http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/007092.html
    -- on how developing the tech to live on Mars can help us solve the environmental problems we have here on Earth

    there's also the straight up cool tech angle.
    i can see the development of a colony of Mars pushing much needed funs into the development of rad. tech like:

    * quantum entanglement - to develop true next-gen communications tech? unless i fundamentally misunderstand the concepts here, couldn't this be used for near instant comms between Earth and Mars?

    * fabricators - drop a few robot factories down, before the colonists get there - they chew up the ground and start printing out the building blocks for habitats etc
  3.  (2145.110)
    Its going to take at least a decade for the private sector to establish residency on the moon, but you can count on orbital space tourism beginning in 2010.

    I doubt it. There's not a crew-rated launch vehicle in the private sector that can establish orbit.

    * quantum entanglement - to develop true next-gen communications tech? unless i fundamentally misunderstand the concepts here, couldn't this be used for near instant comms between Earth and Mars?

    There's not even the beginnings of an applicable test article for quantum channel communications. Here's the best we've got, as of one month ago:

    For the first time, physicists have been able to identify individual returning photons after firing and reflecting them off of a space satellite in orbit almost 1,500 kilometres above the earth. The experiment has proven the possibility of constructing a quantum channel between Space and Earth.


    * fabricators - drop a few robot factories down, before the colonists get there - they chew up the ground and start printing out the building blocks for habitats etc

    Again, the environmental issues may apply.
  4.  (2145.111)
    I was born the year of Sputnik. As a child growing up with the Space Race, I had dreams of someday living in a Lunar colony or maybe touring Mars. Of course we didn't get the future we were promised.

    I still hold some long-term optimism for the future, but I doubt it will ever be me leaving Earth. My grandchildren, maybe.

    Back in the 1950s it was unthinkable that any organization other than a large national government, able to grab massive wealth and resources from its peons, could build space vehicles.

    Half a century later, billionaire moguls are planning and building space craft and a spaceport in New Mexico. Their aims are modest at this point, but they're going up just the same.

    Fifty years from now, commercial ventures in the Earth-Moon system, and maybe even operations on Mars, will likely become both technologically and economically feasible. Not soon enough for most any of us to participate, sadly, but we'll get there, and we'll get there when fortunes can be made doing it.
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      CommentAuthorstsparky
    • CommentTimeMay 15th 2008 edited
     (2145.112)
    Scott, I share the same natal day as NASA. I had friends who won the Space X prize ... And we have people who want their future now.


    People who want to work in Space Tech have Bigelow Aerospace. There are resources on the moon I think the USA is not ready to share with China. I suspect brute force may always be an option.

    This link via SpaceX seems solid:

    Old Titan launch pad gantry at Cape knocked down
    ... so despite the service tower's destruction on Sunday, the historic Complex 40 will live on.

    "The role of the pad is changing," Diller said. "Complex 40 will still have a very important role as far as NASA is concerned because a new family of rockets is coming on board."

    "It is one of only a few heavy-lift pads at the Cape," Buzza said. "SpaceX is very fortunate to have been granted use of Complex 40. We will put it to good use."


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      CommentAuthorm1k3y
    • CommentTimeMay 16th 2008
     (2145.113)
    The experiment has proven the possibility of constructing a quantum channel between Space and Earth.

    the details of that experiment as so insane that i expect this to be banal in 20yrs.
    just as trying to explain a girl updating her Facebook status with her mobile would be to someone from 20yrs ago

    * fabricators - drop a few robot factories down, before the colonists get there - they chew up the ground and start printing out the building blocks for habitats etc


    Again, the environmental issues may apply.


    ok point taken, don't want to piss off the space hippies by digging up Mars.
    think they'll let us send fabricators into the Asteroid Belt then, build a fully formed, self-contained habitat there and ever so gently place that on the surface?

    the last SpaceRace gave us odd stuff like Velcro and the Microwave
    be interesting to see what Consumer by-products get developed by solving the problems of returning to Space properly and getting to Mars
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeMay 16th 2008 edited
     (2145.114)
    the last SpaceRace gave us odd stuff like Velcro and the Microwave

    No, and No.

    We didn't get Tang out of it either.

    You don't go to space to accidentally create crap for consumers that gets taken for granted after two years. You do it for this:Earthrise
    And this:
    Orion, sucker
  5.  (2145.115)
    ok point taken, don't want to piss off the space hippies by digging up Mars.


    Oh, it'll be worse than that.

    My buddy Neil Smith wrote a story (Pallas) set in the late 21st Century in which there are human colonies on Luna, Mars, and Pallas, and fortunes being made in mining the Asteroids. And on Earth, there is something called the Mass Movement which asserts that all that space material coming to Earth will upset Earth's "delicate balance" and cause the continents to collapse into the mantle. Despite the silliness of such a theory, the Movement has a huge popular following.

    And I expect what we'll actually get when humanity begins exploiting the planets and planetoids will be even sillier than that.
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      CommentAuthorstsparky
    • CommentTimeJun 5th 2008
     (2145.116)
    @ScottBeiser Pallas was not the only time Smith ventured into the asteroids. I kinda like the "Venus Belt" myself.

    Do you think we could set up a shielded human delivery systems from Earth to Mars and back? I think we'd have to do some brutal stuff like make Mars' core heavier someway to keep its' poles stable.
  6.  (2145.117)
    ..the images we get of nebulas are actually extremely grainy and greyscale (if that... it's actually just the best interpretation of the data we recieve back put into a visual format). They have publicists that make them look that pretty. At least that was the last data I read about, and a lot can change in a year.


    Though yes, Earth does look lovely from so far away, we go to space for the utilitarian possibilities, not for the view.
  7.  (2145.118)
    A colony on Pallas? There's too much shit floating around it, there's no water or iron and it probably outgasses magnesium by-products half the year. What made him choose Pallas?

    there is something called the Mass Movement which asserts that all that space material coming to Earth will upset Earth's "delicate balance" and cause the continents to collapse into the mantle. Despite the silliness of such a theory, the Movement has a huge popular following.

    And you say he doesn't write tracts...!
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeJun 5th 2008
     (2145.119)
    Y'know Warren, you probably know a fuckload more about this stuff than most "hard SF" authors.

    One of the reasons I stopped going to conventions was running into folks whose science clock stopped when hopes for L-5 colonies was consuming brainshare the way the Singularity is now.
  8.  (2145.120)
    Y'know Warren, you probably know a fuckload more about this stuff than most "hard SF" authors.

    Probably not. I'm a dilletante in that as in all things. I am curious as the Pallas choice, though. Unless the future mining colony there is just one guy banging out diopside earrings or something. Ceres is a more interesting choice -- it may have a small atmosphere, which provides protection from the tiny debris, there's very probably processable water there, and it may even prove to have swept its immediate neighbourhood of objects