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Off-Topic Discussion  » Ideas Wanted for 100-Year Starship Project by DARPA, NASA

6 posts found
  Precusor

Advanced Member

Joined: 1/24/05
Posts: 4695

Aim Bot

 
OP  10/02/11 9:14:43 AM#1

Got any space travel ideas you would like to share?

 

The United States military is calling for ideas to aid a joint study with NASA that will identify the requirements necessary to make interstellar space travel possible, as well as practical.

The military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) put out the request for information, or RFI, to help support a detailed study of the 100-Year Starship project, which it's working on with NASA.

DARPA isn't asking for spaceship designs at this early stage; it just wants some help organizing the project and making it more feasible, especially from a financial standpoint.

http://www.space.com/11639-darpa-100-year-starship-study-ideas.html

 

  GTwander

Novice Member

Joined: 3/14/09
Posts: 6125

LARPer Hunter

10/02/11 3:14:04 PM#2

Deadline was June 3rd, so I take it they don't want to bask in my genius.

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  Aelfinn

Apprentice Member

Joined: 4/17/06
Posts: 3857

Pseudonyms: Darkintent, Heronblade

10/02/11 6:27:43 PM#3

Well, obstacle number one is inevitably propulsion. In order to make even an ARKship type of journey possible (in which the great great grandchildren of the original voyagers are the ones to first reach the destination), we absolutely must improve the efficiency and yield of our engines. Several ideas exist for this, most are likely to never get out of the theoretical category.

Obstacle number two is the difficulty of launching mass into orbit. It would be nearly impossible to get a ship of significant size off of the ground if constructed on Earth, and nearly as impossible to launch construction facilities into orbit to do the job up there. Whatever propulsion advances we can manage may help with this, but the ideal solution would be a space elevator. We actually have most of the technology required to do the job, it is just a matter of funding and organization. (If the people in the nanotech field would actually deliver on those assemblers they promised 20 years ago, it would make things much easier.)

Stasis or hibernation pods would help immensly with the conservation of resources. In theory, it should be possible to put humans into a hibernation mode using the correct combination of drugs. In this state, their consumption of food, water, and air would be significantly reduced (and they're less likely to go insane from boredom on the longer stretches). However, our systems are not designed for it, and no one knows whether or not they can be woken up again, hence no one has tried.

Some way to counteract bone and tissue degradation is essential. The tried but true concept of an onboard centrifuge should be sufficient to the task. True artificial gravity would be nice, but remains unlikely.

One possible funding idea would be to obtain investments from mining corporations. There are huge deposits of metals and minerals that are quite rare here on Earth, in the asteroid belt and other locations. The same tech needed for a true starship would make it possible for them to bring massive quantities of those resources back here to be used on Earth. It may even be possible for the same starship to launch a few particularly valuable rocks close enough to Earth to be intercepted.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Hemingway

  GTwander

Novice Member

Joined: 3/14/09
Posts: 6125

LARPer Hunter

10/02/11 7:14:10 PM#4

I'm more of a realist, but man I would love to dribble all sorts of fictional science up in this bitch.

Here's my take though, for what's possible *now*.

 

1. Propulsion - The future of fuels is going to be in *any* combustible gases, which are plentiful as f**k in space, even in trace amounts. The goal would have to be to design a 'vapor compressor' in space that would orbit while sucking out all the gases out in space, which can then be seperated and used for various purposes. That's not the grand scheme though, just a working model of how to get such fuels when too far away from a supply hub. Distance is the enemy in space. Eventually, we'll be sucking them off the surface of Jupiter by the ton, but until we figure the correct logistics to get it back to us - kinda pointless. It's a game of spreading that empire to it. Mars, because of the distance, is the first target (and point #2).

2. Production - It's stupid to produce anything on the ground, launch it, then assemble it in zero-g. Everything bound for space needs to be made IN space. Mars has two orbital bodies that would be perfect for the resources needed, but I have no idea what the environment is like. Could take much more energy to smelt in zero-g, maybe not - ask a physicist.

3. Funding - The billionaire steel barons should jump on this, but not alone. The cost of of everything combined would be astronomical (*hyuk*). This is a market for joint ventures that would be willing to aim at a financial model that trickles down to all the people involved. Anyone from fuel companies to entertainment firms would get in on it, maybe make it a race to get out there and stake claims. Taxes might not even have to help fund this beyatch.

 

I believe that much will get us out there, but beyond 80-day journeys to the central planets, I don't see us getting much further without "freak science". The kind of shit that should make no sense at all, but works. I don't see us freezing ourselves, we can't survive the thaw (regardless of what science-fiction tells you). We would be able to send out a mothership-type city in space that's designed to fly non-stop to a new system while countless generations of people come and go inside. By the time they get there they would forget why they even left in the first place. I think they would have to drop a tons of relay probes to send a message back to Earth every hour, on the hour, and then measure their distance by the radio lag. I would send clones for this mission, they don't have any rights anyway.

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  Cleffy

Elite Member

Joined: 5/09/04
Posts: 5499

10/02/11 10:23:27 PM#5

Cant forget about the most important thing.  How to not freeze to death in pitch darkness at absolute 0.

  GTwander

Novice Member

Joined: 3/14/09
Posts: 6125

LARPer Hunter

10/03/11 6:46:38 PM#6
Originally posted by Cleffy

Cant forget about the most important thing.  How to not freeze to death in pitch darkness at absolute 0.

Duh, you learn how to survive off of engine heat.

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