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New Project for Stardock!

Get on this Yarlen!

By on August 20, 2011 11:50:55 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Sinperium

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DARPA is offering $500,000 on November 11th for the best proposal for this. It's open for public submissions. Hop to it Yarlen!

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August 21, 2011 4:06:18 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

This sounds like a $500,000 feel-good waste of tax money.  It would make more sense to study what it would take to get to Mars or another planet in our Solar System first.

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August 21, 2011 11:58:00 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

I'm in it for the $500,000--then the taxes aren't wasted

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August 22, 2011 12:43:37 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

I have a plan to get to another solar system, with our current technology:

Adjust the orbits of a few asteroids so that they collide with the moon. The timing has to be just right so that it gives the moon a kick out of our orbit. The best scenario would involve  the moon 'falling' back toward the earth due to it being slowed after the intial hit, so that it (the moon) slingshots around the earth, at which point it should be pummeled by more asteroids (really big ones now). This should send the moon flying toward the inner solar system where it will gain tremendous speed as it falls in toward the sun. It's trajectory should be such that it gets as close as possible to the sun without melting away all the resources underground.

As it comes out of the slingshot around the sun, you need to intercept the moon with the crew that will live aboard it. They should bury themselves deep within the moon and setup nuclear reactors. Hopefully, not all the water ice has melted away so that can be collected and used by the crew. Use Jupiter to put the final touches on the trajectory to the other star. Okay, now all the hard work is done... sit back and wait a few thousand years.

Now, advances in fusion technology could be very helpful with this plan as the need for more reactors as the 'crew' grows in population will be very difficult with such limited resources. Fusion also has the benifit of solving any other material issues as you can generate the specific raw material needed.

Note that this will probably mess up life on earth without seasons (caused by the axes wobling due to the moon), tides, and a host of other repercussions, but is completely doable. Would just need to be super ridiculously awesome with the mathmatics to make it all work. It might be easier to do with asteroids instead of the moon, but as far as I'm aware, there hasn't been any asteroids with water on them. Also, the moon should be thick enough to protect against cosmic radiation, whereas I'm not sure about an asteroid. The moon also is big enough that it will be able to maintain some measure of temperature at it's core, helping with the freezing temperatures in interstellar space

Now, you can make checks out to....

 

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August 22, 2011 2:12:17 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

A slingshot maneuver, not necessarily with the moon, would definitely be my first choice for interstellar travel beyond Sol.

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August 22, 2011 8:22:52 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

well, if you dont have something big, you'll freeze to death very easily and also die of radiation. Yes, you will die twice. And if you think its bad dying just the once.... oh, man... the second one is really harder than the first.

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August 22, 2011 10:57:39 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

best use of tax money i've seen recently.

 

and sithlord, your plan puts the earth at risk(no clue as to how significant), so I'll be the first one to condone your creativity and smack it down with a big "no".  We don't need to endanger our planet to succeed!

As for my solution....I would assemble the ship in space using our lovely international space station, and get some really nice big solar sails built and tested.   These would be the main source of propulsion with a nice slow acceleration out of the solar system.  This would be the "warp drive" minus the fast speed.  The "impulse drive" would be our very own ion drives, useful for navigating the alpha centauri solar system as a backup to the solar sails. If any slingshot attempt using solar sails is possible, then I would definitely TEST it remotely before sending a live crew.

The ship would have to be able to operate in excess of 100 years, as we don't know every little detail about that system.  To mitigate risk the team would have to have the capability to gather data on the system and map it out to plot an efficient course.  Aligning along the ecliptic would provide an easy way to view atmospheric composition via planetary eclipsing, A wide view telescope to scan the system for smaller bodies, and all around the best sensors that we can provide at the time.

triple redundancy on all systems, with the ability to machine new parts, as well as the ability to process materials.  Extensive testing over a period of at least 10 years building a prototype and training and testing onboard.  A kickass gym, and a sweet jungle, along with a holodeck.

a computer that would respond to voice commands would be pretty sweet as well.

A DNA bank heavily shielded with facilities to create an ecosystem that could support life and / or start terraforming a planet If a suitable planet is found.

If we can get a self sustaining reactor working fine, then A nuclear reactor or two would be a nice additional power source to take over when in between stars.

Or, we could just go to area 51 and just use our ftl drives we scrounged off all the ET/terrestrial shipwrecks.

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August 22, 2011 11:14:10 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

I think the only way anyones going to ever be actually motivated with the public behind them to get off this rock will be when the Earth is actually endanger.

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August 23, 2011 2:44:06 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting sareth01,
best use of tax money i've seen recently.

I hope you're being facetious.  We can't even go to another planet yet or even to the edge of our own solar system.  So, what's the point in spending money on a mental masturbatory exercise in determining what it would take to get to another star?  After we've mastered going to, say, Neptune or Pluto, then it might make sense to consider what would be required to get to another star.  We really have to develop something akin to a warp drive first, if that's even physically possible.

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August 23, 2011 1:20:58 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Hey guys, apparently you can't read so well. The grant is for an individual who develops a business plan to do this, not for a space ship. 

DARPA (which basically serves as the blue sky research body of the government) wants to toss around a little money and get people thinking what kind of organization or purpose it would take to get something like this going. And they want it to be a private venture, not a government funded one. 

So, you know, once you get your eyes on the actual words it pretty much takes a big steamer on your objections.  

 

Moving on to the actual grant. 

The problem with a business plan for this is the same one Europeans faced in their exploration of the world. The only real business plan is to take something from Point A (the exoplanet) and return with it to Point B (earth, where the money is). In order to pay for those ships and crews and colonists, the merchant adventurers needed something with a high value to volume and weight ratio: gold and spices for the most part. As traffic increased and the value of those goods started dropping, more and more ships started taking on bulk cargo like naval stores, tea, tobacco, linens, etc. 

 

So what sort of thing would be profitable enough to pay for a voyage of ~25 to ~50 years between stars, that isn't organic (because it would likely die en route OR if it could survive the trip could probably then be bred on earth, making it a one time trip), isn't available on earth (but available on an earth-like exoplanet) in sufficient quantities, and wouldn't take up a lot of space?

You're pretty much left with a few articles:

-fossil fuels: we'll be running short of them in an hundred years at current rates of consumption, but presumably those won't be all that necessary in the future

-uranium and other fissile materials: assuming we never develop viable commercial fusion, we'll need them in mass quantities (renewable is nice and all, but it isn't viable for handling base loads; fission can provide that sort of steady, reliable power without raping a river system)

 

We'll pretend that in the distant future the prices justify shipping these goods. But what about the return leg. Presumably colonists have the ability to produce their own goods, otherwise they'd all die waiting for the return of the ship (after 50 years? definitely so). There's a growing body of thought that the 3D Printing stuff going about will allow made to order manufactured goods to be produced from the comfort of a home or local shop, so no reason to ship finished goods across a few ly. That leaves cultural goods and information as the only potential item of interest, both of which can be shipped in mass quantities in compact forms.  

In the end it'd be easiest to send shielded drones with stacks of hard drives from one location to the other, or even better beam the information at the speed of light between the two locations -- difficult to pull off, but definitely possible and certainly cheaper and faster than a stack of hard drives. 

 

The third option is the one where we develop biological control mechanisms and simply fire printers capable of outputting organic explorers who can be controlled by human operators from the comfort of earth, probably through some quantum communication method. 

 

If communication ends up instant (the great hope of quantum mechanics) then distance becomes irrelevant and people can be sent off to distant planets to colonize and expand without it mattering the slightest -- they'd be able to produce code or write novels far away and generate income for themselves and those who wish to start more service oriented businesses like restaurants or banks or law firms. But if communication is slow and expensive at the interstellar level, earth based options will be our only real recourse unless we wish to send people off and never hear from them again (a silly and useless idea). 

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August 23, 2011 1:47:42 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting sareth01,
and sithlord, your plan puts the earth at risk(no clue as to how significant), so I'll be the first one to condone your creativity and smack it down with a big "no".  We don't need to endanger our planet to succeed!

I know, I pointed that out. The options are 1) Risk life on Earth to go to another solar system after a great cost, time and effore 2) With a high amount of certainty, kill any crew you send 3) Develop some other technology like plasma shields and/or fusion reactors to make a space ship feasible (as I said, my plan uses our current technology) 4) Dont do it

Quoting sareth01,
The ship would have to be able to operate in excess of 100 years

If only we were talking about a trip lasting only a couple hundred years!!! No. Realistically, the nearest star is 30,000 years away with the fastest thing we sent anywhere (Voyager 1 or 2, not sure).

Quoting sareth01,
If we can get a self sustaining reactor working fine, then A nuclear reactor or two would be a nice additional power source to take over when in between stars.

You will run out of fuel. Also, our current reactors are designed for only 50 years or so, but can be overhauled to last for around 80 years. See above statement. On the plus side, the nuclear waste generated during the begining of the trip will cease to be radioactive well before the end of it. Oh, and solar sails won't do you much good beyond... I dont know, neptune? Theres not enough solar wind to get any real power out of it.

Not to completely slam your idea. Its just most people dont see the depth of the problem. Even if some magician conjured the exotic matter that would be necessary to build a warp drive, and one was created tomorrow... It would still take 4.3 years to get to the nearest star, which would still be a monumental engineering effort.

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August 23, 2011 2:49:07 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

The idea is for someone to start a self-sustaining project that will last for 100 years and grow in size and scope by attracting experts in various fields to begin laying out scenarios, blueprints and ideas for what might be done.

Think of it as a giant, open source networking project with long term goals and $500k to start.

In fact, it would make a great open source project.

Slingshotting the moon would pretty much ruin the earth, affecting the weather, continental movement, seismic stresses, etc...I'll pass on that plan.

The best idea is to build a Daedalus type spacecraft using nuclear explosions as propulsion--augmented by slingshotting and ion thrusters plus solar sails perhaps.  Doesn't solve the problems of whether or not to breed on the trip, growing enough food and oxygen, what goods to carry for arrival and how to plan a shipboard government and constitution and provide for entertainment and stress relief.

Upon arrival, a nuclear pulsed laser could be detonated to signal the ship was intact with maybe a "yes" or "no" sequence to announce if promising planets, imminent danger or alien life were present.

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August 24, 2011 1:13:02 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Seriously.... it takes 30,000 years. Not 25, not 50, not 100... 30 thousand at the very least. And that is to the nearest star, Alpha centauri, which has no planets. A nuclear reactor is no good for that long of a journey unless you can build/rebuild a new one. How can you do that on a space ship? You cant.

Alright fine. We can take one of Mars' moons. Its smaller, doesnt have water (that I'm aware of), and probably is not big enough to generate any kind of heat in its core, but you can probably survive the cosmic radiation, so theres that going for it.

Yes, there are tons of sci-fi ideas for how to travel to another star... what I am saying is that right now, today... this is what technology will allow. Seeing as how more people are liable to just ignore these facts and post their own plan anyhow.... Here are the major obstacles, so all plans should have an answer for each of these:

  • Power. Need a way to maintain power for lights, machinery, and engines.
  • Maintenence. Need a way to repair systems. Things that are broke generally need replacement parts. Where do you get them?
  • Radiation. Need some way to protect against cosmic and stellar radiation. This is one of the major issues with any attempt to go to mars right now, much less an interstellar journey.
  • Length of the journey. Need some way to handle the emense distance. To give some scale, Voyager 1 is the fastest object we humans have made. It was launched before I was born and still has 17,000 years to go before it is 1 light-year away from us. The nearest star is 4.2 light-years away.

As far as developing new technologies... Theres plasma shielding which might protect against radiation, but will cost a ton of power. Fusion will certainly give us power and material, assuming we have brought enough fuel. Cryogenics could potentially save a host of other problems, but then you'd be relying on a computer for the whole trip.

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August 25, 2011 1:10:54 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

mental masturbatory exercise

I'll reiterate, best use of tax money I've seen recently.  At least our corrupt government is spending a paltry sum on something cool to fulfill the spending quota to put us further into unrepayable debt.

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August 25, 2011 3:07:00 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Solar sails powered by a beam can accelerate to a tenth of the speed of light. While this would be difficult to produce, it is something which we can indeed pull off with current technology, especially if commercial spaceflight takes off in the next fifty years. 

I mean, shit, it took a long time to go from the Wright brothers to regular passenger flight. And we didn't really get mass market flight until the 80s, post deregulation. Don't forget that there were a pair of gigantic wars that provided a lot of low cost mil surplus aircraft and research on flight (WW2 saw the leap from prop planes to jet planes in a very short span).

We're now about fifty years since the first exploratory manned flights, and commercial ventures have finally started to take an interest in doing the real deal with customers. That's a promising sign. I expect massive leaps in our capability and frequency of travel over the next fifty years. Don't forget that as a technology is adopted by mass consumers, it tends to be rapidly upgraded; just look at the changes in computers post development of the PC, or the changes in cell phones from the 80s to now, or the changes in cars post-Fordism.

 

The problem isn't doing it. We'll eventually figure out a solution -- after all, leading scientific theory of the day said it was impossible for a man to travel faster than his own sound and look how that turned out.

The problem is finding the problem itself. A lot of great scientific stuff is a solution waiting for a problem, like the Roman steam engines in the era of mass cheap slave labor. What, exactly, are people supposed to do once they've gotten to space? There's really nothing of value up there until there are people to sell to. No resources worth shipping home, no services worth providing. Nothing except tourism. 

 

On the other hand, once the tourists go up they'll want a hotel -- no one wants to pay thousands of dollars for just a few hours in LEO. And that means housing for the people who maintain the place, and food and services and all sorts of things. And that means real estate, so there's no particular reason scientists can't buy a seat on a ship and start their own labs in a rented room rather than waiting for time at the government station. Eventually they find something cool worth doing and bam, space has value. 

 

But of course we'll need more orbit available. Space is big, but orbits worth having aren't exactly super numerous. And space has a carrying capacity for orbital bodies that cannot be exceeded unless you enjoy riding burning wreckage all the way home. And that means the moon. Which will of course require a long haul spaceliner, and regular engine upgrades and efficiencies found until, between the risk of eco damage and resource depletion at home, it's cheap enough to ship raw materials home. And then of course you need miners on the moon and Mars. And those miners want their families. And those families want shops. And those shops want banks. And those banks want investment opportunities on the Moon and Mars beyond just resources. Factories get set up and before you know it the boomtowns have become the new new China, shipping inflation reducing goods back to earth at a low low cost while we return the homeworld to a pristine wonderland. 

Meanwhile, space ships keep getting more numerous and space travel keeps getting faster and cheaper. Eventually we're in orbit around or have cities on every solid body in the solar system, with an active network of propulsion sites for photon sail powered ships that boosts them closer to and further from the sun, allowing fast and cheap travel at high speed between the planets. Pluto ends up a mere six month cruise away, Mars a weekend destination.

 

From there, the stars. Why? Because we need more things to orbit.

 

Does it all sound crazy? Sure! But you'll be surprised what population pressure, ecological risks and the rising price of raw materials will do to propel us into space. And this sort of thing might just provide us with a few smart blue sky guys and gals who will dream up the big leaps that make it happen. And at 500k, it's a steal. 

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August 26, 2011 3:09:02 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Don't get me wrong. Space exploration, I feel, should continue to be utilized and we should settle other planets. Im all for that.

I, however, do not think it will ever being practical to travel to another star. People get wrapped up in science fiction and, for all it gets right, there's alot it gets wrong or is greatly exagerrated.

Solar sails wont get you very far at all. It's great for going to the outer planets and maybe mars (depends if you can get enough speed), but the acceleration due to the sun peters out as you get further away. There is a separate idea that uses laser beams to push the craft around. The laser kicks loose a particle, which travels in the opposite direction of the craft and acts as thrust. This effect also peters out the further the craft is from the beam. Now, if you say that with some combination of 2 you can get up to 10% of light speed... I'm a bit skeptical.

But lets just say you did. Now the nearest star takes the space craft 43 years. For people on earth, it still takes around 30,000 years due to relativistic effects. And that's one-way, so... I still dont think there's any practical usage there.

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August 26, 2011 3:46:30 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Daedalus was conceived back in '78 and would have reached 12% of light speed in just under two years with a 450 ton payload.  To reach Banard's star would have been a 50 year journey.

A lot of peripheral technologies and even core ones--such as improved and practical ion drives, solar panels and the like now--could be incorporated making it more efficient and flexible and reduce transit time significantly.  It is still a "generation ship" for all practical purposes but now we know where significant quantities of antimatter can be found--we might be able to do it better.

If you consider an unmanned probe, projects like Daedalus and Longshot are very appealing.

A non-laser solar sail has less value but the Russians were running nuclear explosion powered turbines back in the eighties and when you are using hydrogen fusion micro-explosions, there's plenty of room to pulse lasers with them.

So the core fission/fusions propulsion ideas would still be the main thrust but they could be augmented by low mass additions of ion drives and laser powered solar sails.  Every bit helps and these are cheap and light additions.

Developing a working gaseous fission power plant would greatly improve these missions.

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August 26, 2011 5:33:16 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting SithLordAJ,
Don't get me wrong. Space exploration, I feel, should continue to be utilized and we should settle other planets. Im all for that.

I, however, do not think it will ever being practical to travel to another star. People get wrapped up in science fiction and, for all it gets right, there's alot it gets wrong or is greatly exagerrated.

Solar sails wont get you very far at all. It's great for going to the outer planets and maybe mars (depends if you can get enough speed), but the acceleration due to the sun peters out as you get further away. There is a separate idea that uses laser beams to push the craft around. The laser kicks loose a particle, which travels in the opposite direction of the craft and acts as thrust. This effect also peters out the further the craft is from the beam. Now, if you say that with some combination of 2 you can get up to 10% of light speed... I'm a bit skeptical.

But lets just say you did. Now the nearest star takes the space craft 43 years. For people on earth, it still takes around 30,000 years due to relativistic effects. And that's one-way, so... I still dont think there's any practical usage there.

 

The important thing is to begin at the beginning. Right now, it looks unaffordable, slow and irrational. In a hundred years it'll look as doable as the moon did in 1960. In two hundred years it could be as common as flights from New York to Tokyo are now -- something that seemed impossible decades ago, and are now quotidian. Scientists have this amazing ability to make the impossible possible, and engineers have this amazing ability to make the possible affordable and reliable. It'll happen, and it'll happen faster, cheaper and sooner than anyone today would believe. 

Space needs a purpose, and that purpose is commerce. Commerce requires property rights and willing workers, as well as a viable business model. Orbits have value. There are only so many viable orbits before you reach carrying capacity for a given stellar body, at which point you can't take off from the surface of the planet due to all the stuff floating around in space. So there are the things you can assign property rights to. And tourists provide an initial business model, with people who want to work and live in space (initially for very high wages, later for much more normal ones) providing the workers and the families that end up creating the rest of the ecosystem just by existing. 

 

It really is that simple. Once the first real space hotel gets set up, the colonization of other orbital bodies and and eventually suns is a logical inevitability. And we've already got several companies looking to take that first step. 

 

Get ready. The next fifty years will be the most exciting thing ever for us space nerds. NASA finally got their GTFO order, and private companies finally got the right to compete! We're embarking on the greatest adventure mankind could ever dream of, and nobody has even noticed yet. 

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August 26, 2011 9:49:18 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting SithLordAJ,

Now the nearest star takes the space craft 43 years. For people on earth, it still takes around 30,000 years due to relativistic effects.

I'm sorry, I was mistaken. If you did manage to hit 10% of light speed (I wouldnt hold my breath on that just yet), it is fast enough to cut down on the time, but not so fast that relativity makes a significant dent in that time.

I still question getting up to that speed though, but I'm getting tired of this argument.

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August 26, 2011 10:00:32 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Who's arguing?

Yeah .12c with 70-80's tech.  Still would need a lot of development.

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August 26, 2011 10:19:54 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting Sinperium,
Who's arguing?

Well, me and you had this argument before. And I've bumped into numerous people IRL who say the same thing.

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August 27, 2011 1:08:58 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Alpha centauri, which has no planets

nothing against you man, but alpha centauri COULD have planets.  Our collection efforts are not nearly as definative as to provide us with a yes or no answer to this question.  Will we have a better idea in the future?  I honestly think that in our lifetimes (i'm 26) that we will see some amazing advances in astronomy.  Also the ecliptic of the system lies skewed off from ours so any chance of actually seeing a planet using planetary eclipsing wouldn't be viable at this time.  Data gathering has gotten much better for seeing at ever increasing distances with great accuracy, but we don't really know yet how much our view of the stars inside our solar system is skewed.  There could be variables that are much larger that cannot be witnessed unless you are outside of our solar system.  If we sent a ship into "inter celestial waters" and had it come back with star maps and any other goodies we would probably see some incredible advances in our long range data gathering techniques.

also, and addendum to the solar sail idea.  Since the solar sail needs to orbit the sun MANY times to achieve enough thrust from the light pressure to achieve the 1/10th the speed of light that is theoretically possible, we should send a ship up and have it do just that, unmanned(but with the full long distance capability of crew support). Let it "charge up its speed" via the solar system for years and years, and then use new and improved propulsion to A) dock with the ship at a critical time to get the crew well on their way, or B ) use that warp drive we just invented. 

The nice thing about this plan is that you can test the long term space travel of the devices onboard and develop effective remedies for another new ship.  To be done responsibly you need to have a manned ship do a circumsolar flight successfully before you do a star to star mission to help iron our the kinks in the plan.  I hope the space program does this responsibly with numerous test flights to solve the logistical problems of equipment/biological malfunction.

You never know what you will get out of a scientific venture, and it may not make a profit.  But then, not everything has to make a profit.
 Men and women with lots of value(currently paper money) sometimes want to make a DIFFERENCE, they want their names to LIVE ON.  You do so by having a kickass story, just like Achilles.  Solar sails orbiting the solar system to go to another star?  I'd tell my kids about the daring dream that was dared to be dreamed.  Just imagine the relevance and the interest a long term project like that would garner for space flight.

We live in exciting times boys and girls

 

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August 27, 2011 7:17:17 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Heh...if we argued I must have won

Sometimes having a vision is what people need--that was the entire point of the moon project and look what came out of it.

One day we will get clobbered by a big space rock and the naysayers will grind their teeth and scream, "Why didn't you stop this!?".  Gotta start sometime.

 

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August 27, 2011 4:50:44 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting sareth01,
nothing against you man, but alpha centauri COULD have planets.

Gravity from a triple star system means orbits around each star are unstable. Any planets would either be crushed by tidal forces or ejected from the system. There is, I guess, some possibility of planets forming and orbiting around the whole trinary system, I dont know. I think its pretty difficult for us to see planets (or more technically, dwarf planets) in the outer edges of our system. To think that we could find one in another system, much further out than our Kuiper belt and chart a course there... while not impossible, is very dubious.

Quoting Sinperium,
One day we will get clobbered by a big space rock and the naysayers will grind their teeth and scream, "Why didn't you stop this!?".  Gotta start sometime.

I fail to see how stopping a large impact event on earth has anything to do with interstellar travel. As I have said previously, I am all for space exploration and expansion within the solar system. Not only is it possible, it could be necessary for this very point.

As far as interstellar travel is concerned, only unmanned probes make any sense unless you are willing to put in the time and effort to do something on the scale of what i laid out above.

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August 28, 2011 5:41:34 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Was away a bit there Sith.

In response, we need reasons to be working in space now so we can reap the rewards later.  The concept of "wait until it is easy and cheap and safe" never develops anything.

An unmanned probe to another star would be a grandiose accomplishment but what it would provide is a working infrastructure in orbit--which is what we need to begin to solve a plethora of problems--one of which certainly is finding ways to prevent asteroid impacts.

Projects that fire the imagination also provide the morale needed to keep the public invested in long-term development.  An interstellar probe project serves for infrastructure and technological development, public relations and funding and practical experience.

I have worked in radio and print advertising and never ceased to find any number of businesses who "weren't going to waste money on advertising". Most of said businesses no longer are in business.  You invest in the present for returns in the future.  Applies pretty much to anything.  A moon base, Mars landing, asteroid retrieval, or any other sort of expedition serves this purpose .

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September 6, 2011 10:47:39 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Judging by the number of people who think that you can build some kind of faster-than-light spaceship to get to the other solar system, I really dont think that there is a lack of imaginative 'fire'.

The thing is that there isn't really a reason to go to the nearest solar system, or really any system nearby. If there happened to be another Sol nearby, there would be alot more focus on that goal. But this is the same as saying that if Mars was warm and wet, we would be there by now (which is probably true).

For those worried about the future survival of the human race (in the context of space), the only thing we really need to focus on is asteroids and comets. The thing is: with advances in technology, we've found that we really dont need to go anywhere. Sure, it's nice to send a person somewhere if the effort to do so is very small, but the only way it will be like that is if we have a network of space stations in the interstellar space for other purposes. By then, we will have the knowledge of the best designs for a ship to do that and the infrastructure to make the designs reliable.

So, I agree with you that we need reasons to be working in space. And yes, it will make things easier in the future for more ambitions projects. If you read through all my posts here, I never advocate shutting down space exploration. Attempting to rally people to a goal of an interstellar program is, in my opinion, at odds with the continuation of the space program. Remember that people lost their lives to make the moon landing happen. To attempt something far grander than that vision will take more lives, and loads more money. Do you really think that after an accident that the program will continue to receive support? I gaurantee, ALL space programs, not essential, would be shut down.

Quoting sareth01,

Let it "charge up its speed" via the solar system for years and years, and then use new and improved propulsion to A) dock with the ship at a critical time to get the crew well on their way, or B ) use that warp drive we just invented.

If the ship is orbiting the sun at 1/10th the speed of light, you would have to match it's speed to dock with it. If you're planning on an alternative propulsion system that can get you up to 1% light speed, why would you need a ship orbiting the sun for years?

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