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    • CommentTimeSep 2nd 2009
    To be honest, I think less conventional multiple partner families make more sense in this kind of space/frontier context, but I thought I'd start out slow.

    But surely for this kind of long term project you'd want to make sure you had some significant compatibility with at least some of the others.
  1.  (6711.22)
    Paul Anderson's 'Tau Zero' approaches both of those relationship structures in a sci-fi frontier context quite well, I think.

    Though the book is definitely heavy on the tech - in fact, it's one of few sci-fi books I'd definitely call 'Hard Sci-Fi' - the book focuses on relationships between the crew when a mission which takes far longer than any of them thought it would. Power structures, intimate and mating-purpose relationships are analysed, deconstructed and explored. I don't think it has all the answers - far from it, especially considering some of Anderson's dodgy politics - but it does explore the variables quite well.

    @ V - Now that that romantic treatise on variables is written, I'll give my honest onion on it. You're right. Conventional partnerships wouldn't be the most efficient or most rational - systems should be in place that keep us there without causing animosity or damage to either the social climate or the children. As I said before, astronauts/explorers/frontiersmen and frontierwomen would have to sign waivers - waivers on their health but also waivers on there beliefs, their traditional family structures.
    However, this is the one thing that will always scare a lot of people away: they have the opportunity to be adult, caring and conducive to future human colonies on other planets but could they contain their emotions, their jealousies and their - now habitual - nuclear lifestyles?

    [You know what I like about Star Trek: Enterprise? Sure it was considered the worst series of them all but they actually looked and felt like everything they did was a frontier. Every time they got an upgrade, it felt well earned. Hell, I didn't even like some of the characters that much and I thought most of the acting was out right terrible but the tech? The tech and the exploration was spot-on.]
    • CommentAuthorE0157H7
    • CommentTimeSep 2nd 2009
    The main problem that a lot of people are going to have with this concept is that the frontier spirit is largely dead in modern society. In a world where you can get to the other side in aircraft and communicate instantly, the idea of sending crews out into a new place with limited supplies and no safety net is going to disturb people and lack public support. A large amount of the public will see it as horrible mistreatment of astronauts, regardless of the obvious nature of voluntarily doing such a thing. A one-way scientific/colonial mission, even if it provided everything that the team could conceivably need to live on the planet, would lack the immense public support needed for it.

    If and when private space travel becomes feasible, the concept will probably embraced though. It will probably be accepted as a necessary component of exploring Mars, but probably not until corporations and other private organizations start launching their own craft.
    • CommentAuthorpi8you
    • CommentTimeSep 2nd 2009
    @Oddcult, Kosmopolit - Buzz Aldrin's been trying to convince people that that's the way to go for years.
  2.  (6711.25)
    Those are some good ideas, Oddcult, but...

    And if you're going to send people, don't put them in an open ship they can move around in. Stick them in capsules with micro-shock muscle stimulants to keep their bodies from atrophying and to simulate movement, spending their time in immersive

    That can work for the muscles, but what about the bones?
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeSep 2nd 2009
    A wizard can sort that out.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeSep 2nd 2009
    Or, you spin the capsules so that the centrifugal force simulates sufficient gravity or something like that.
  3.  (6711.28)
    Oddcult, that's no good. You need more than seven hundred feet of diameter so the simulated gravity (about 1g) won't be different (depending on distance from centre of rotation, dramatically different) from your feet to your head. On a tight capsule, it wouldn't work, or at least wouldn't work properly.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeSep 2nd 2009
    Wizard then.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeSep 2nd 2009
    I ask, as someone completely ignorant of the effects of weightlessness on bone deterioration: what about calcium supplements?
  4.  (6711.31)
    My understanding is that they can only do so much. Without exercise and on a weightless environment they will eventually weaken. What Oddcult said about a centrifuge is a good idea, but on a tight capsule you ARE the center of gravity, so in that case it's useless.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeSep 2nd 2009
    That makes sense. Thank you.
  5.  (6711.33)
    However, if the capsule is big enough -- say, thirty feet of diameter, and you're not on its center, but against its wall, and it's spinning at sufficient force, and -- I've run out of science. Point being, there's ways around that, but keeping astronauts asleep as they go to Mars does not seem viable. Especially since it's not common practice in the real world and there's several things that can go wrong.

    I've heard fuel mentioned as a potential problem for return trips. Ion engines could be a way around that. Their acceleration sucks, but with a starting burn from chemical engines, if I'm not mistaken, they could sustain and increase the speed slowly but surely -- also, they consume very little propellant (xenon gas) and can be powered by solar energy (hence being also known as solar-electric propulsion). Could be very efficient in space.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeSep 2nd 2009
    The one "fun" class I took while getting my masters was a space policy course.

    In one sense, a total fucking bummer. The professor gave us a crash course on the mathematics and physics of spaceflight, and it's brutal. Great coagulated globs of enthusiast hype, stripped away.

    In another sense . . . hey, once you strip away the enthusiast hype, you discover that there's still something to it all. And without the enthusiast hype, what you've got can be legitimately taken seriously in your own mind, without the possibility that you might be deluding yourself with some kind of true believer cult activity. (All that L-5 stuff in the 70s was damn near cult-like.)

    That said . . . @Kosmopolit, RE infrastructure, yeah! My term paper for that policy course emphasized that. You send almost everything that doesn't involve moving astronauts from Earth to Mars first, and make sure it's working, before the expedition goes out. When they arrive, they find a leveled landing zone, a little reactor busy making methane for the ascent rockets, a GPS and store-and-foreward communication system in orbit. Trenches dug for buried habitats, the inflatable habitats themselves laid out. All of this is within the range of robots.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeSep 2nd 2009 edited
    @Andre - one way to boost the performance of an ion drive is to put an IR laser in orbit powered by solar cells. That way you have a really small solar array on the ship to receive the power from the laser. so you can avoid the weight penalty of a larger solar array or a reactor on the ship itself.

    Plus it's an excuse to build space lasers.
  6.  (6711.36)
    VERY good point, Kosmo.
  7.  (6711.37)
    • CommentAuthorkrugar
    • CommentTimeSep 3rd 2009
    thats one hell of a TED talk there. thanks for posting :)
    • CommentAuthorPrestwick
    • CommentTimeSep 3rd 2009
    If they're going to colonise Mars, the Moon, whatever then do it how we've always done it: comission a private enterprise to do it.

    What right to we have to dictate to everyone who or what can go into space? It should be a commercial free for all like it always has. In the past, nations didn't colonise the new world private companies did with a Royal Charter. National governments therefore got all the rewards with none of the risk as it was underwritten by shareholders and private owners.

    The same should be done with NASA, the ESA, etc and Mars. Just invite investors and companies to explore Mars with the proviso that a cut of the profit must go to whoever has blessed the enterprise with a charter.

    This way, we can continue man's long and noble tradition of exploiting and laying waste to new lands in the name of profit! Hurray!