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Starflight and Type III Civilizations

Posted by: Horus - Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:20 am
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Starflight and Type III Civilizations 
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Post Starflight and Type III Civilizations   Posted on: Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:20 am
I just wanted to discuss the potential for a civilization, human or otherwise, to span across the stars. What kind of civilization would it be? What enabeling tech do you need?
First up, Propulsion, without it there is no starflight. Lets assume rocket propulsion in realspace below c. Practical rocket Delta V is 3xExhaust Velocity. Next best rocket in physics as we know it is a fussion rocket and the best fussion fuel is He3 with exhaust velocity of 0.08c. So we have Delta V of 0.24c to play around with, in a three stage setup that gives us 5% of total mass as playload. So if we spend that fuel to accellerate and decelerate it'll take us about 40 yrs to get to the nearest star. However if we use that fuel only to accellerate and magnetic braking to decelerate the travel time is cut in half to 20 yrs.
That aint that bad, it certainly isn't one of those arkships that take generations to complete their journey. So starflight is feasible at least in principle.
Thoughts?

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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 15, 2008 5:16 am
I have one question. Nuclear propulsion sounds very expensive. Who pays for all this?

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Post    Posted on: Wed Apr 16, 2008 12:10 pm
Even with such slow rockets, humanity could still become Galaxy spanning.

We just wouldn't be united.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Apr 17, 2008 12:57 pm
I imagine asteroid and moon mining and space manufacturing could be very profitable - perhaps even space tourism will be the major revenue source for space exploration this century. If the money is there, there is profit to be made developing better rockets.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Apr 17, 2008 3:50 pm
But what return would anyone get on spending billions/trillions on launching a few people towards a nearby star. Only governments would do that sort of thing.

Or private groups might raise the cash among themselves for outfitting a large, 10,000 people long-duration Orion colony ship for Interstellar travel.

Warp travel is closer than you think.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 18, 2008 1:24 am
The question of economics is a facinating one and unquestionably worth a close scrutiny. It is all a question on tech. Take paper for example, in ancient world paper was prohibitively expensive and most of populus was illitirate, now everybody but extreme dyslexic can at least read and we wipe our asses with paper - an act that would have horrified an ancient Egyptian for example.
So today we reach Earth-Mooon space with primitive chemical rockets and expensive energy prices. The energy cost alone of launching things to escape velocity is close to 1$/kg,- thats as expensive as raw steel. Obviously in the future we would find ways of producing energy cheaper and convert it into velocity more efficiently.
Take a hypothetical fussion reactor for example. Today we hope to contain fussion via inertial or magnetic confinement, both require expensive and complex machinery. However they might be a dead end, someone tomorrow might invent a design based on electric field to recreate pressures andtemperatures inside a star. That ain't as far fetheched as it sounds, we already use electic fields to create pressures needed to make diomond coating.
We already have the propulsion tech to take us to space and stars beyond, all we need is the energy source to power those plasma thrusters. It is my personal belief that we are on the verge of second space revolution, most of the pieces are already there, all that is needed is courage and imagination to put them together.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 18, 2008 11:23 am
Plus a computer recoding how many people have gone to which star, what its population probably will be now, etc. Everytime another star is colonized the other colonies will have to be notified so they don't try colonising the same star.

Then when Warp drives are invented we can unite human space.

We already have the tech to build SSTOs, it's just politics wreck it.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 18, 2008 12:56 pm
SSTOs?


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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 18, 2008 2:09 pm
Single-Stage-To-Orbit.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 18, 2008 7:42 pm
Terraformer wrote:
Plus a computer recoding how many people have gone to which star, what its population probably will be now, etc. Everytime another star is colonized the other colonies will have to be notified so they don't try colonising the same star.

Then when Warp drives are invented we can unite human space.

We already have the tech to build SSTOs, it's just politics wreck it.

SSTO designs are a incredible complex and demanding design. The Roton didn't fail because of politics but because of lack of funding.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Apr 19, 2008 1:38 am
I donno about warp drive but FTL comms are theoretically possible, in fact we've already build transmitters that have succeeded in sending FTL signals in direct contradiction to relativity theory. There are two tricks that we know of that could violate speed of light limitations. One is the tunnelling or "teleporting" of photons and another is "telepathic" electrons. As I've mentioned already we have built a transmitter that successfuly sent FTL signals through some kind of special plasma, the prototype is not very practical right now but it proves that FTL comm is possible. A more practical approach would use "telepathic" quantum computers utilizing quantum entanglment. One of the problems with this is that it would requires sending one of the quantum computers via realspace to a distant location after the entanglement and this would take decades. But instant instant FTL comm is possible and it could be used to unite disperate colonies into one civilization. Incidently this might be why we haven't detected an alien radio transmission to date - they might be using instantaneous quantum communicators instead of primitive and slow radiowaves.

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Post    Posted on: Sun Apr 20, 2008 6:30 am
If Earth would be smaller, SSTOs would be much simpler or better said earlier in development to achieve.

Generally civilizations are categorized by their capability to use energy. A type III civilization would use the energy of a whole (part of a) galaxy. (so at least there is none in our own galaxy *g*).

I think generation arks would still be enough regarding propulsion for such civilizations. They would still settle the whole galaxy over time.

I think the most demanding "technology" is that a civilization accepts spaceflight as necessary. For example compare Earth's military budgets to Earth's space budgets when someone wants to discuss "expensive space". I'm not against the military, it's necessary as well but if every country with a significant military budget would give only 5% of this money to space....

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Post    Posted on: Mon Apr 21, 2008 2:32 am
One way to circumvent budgetary constaints is to convince the generals that Space is the new High Ground and that you need a space force to compete militarily on Earth. I donno It might work, the generals are pretty gullible when it comes to shiny new toys, and they've got more money than sence. Personally I blame the outer space and ABM treaty for stagnation in space industry for the past 30 yrs. Right now the only way to justify big budgets for space is weapon platforms that could lead to better propulsion tech if only because of huge amounts of R&D such an endavour would require. Many cheap orbital launch concepts require bulk demand to be economical, demand that can only come from the military, but the military is barred from putting weapons in space because of some outdated Cold War era treaty. The whole thing is extrimely grating...

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Post    Posted on: Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:43 am
Horus wrote:
the generals are pretty gullible when it comes to shiny new toys


especially when they are offered kick-backs and cushy boardroom positions for their retirement

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Post    Posted on: Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:05 pm
A few of my own thoughts about the topics discussed in this thread:

-) I don't care about the military regarding space any more. Military has always been the first to "conquer" a new area of technology, but it was the private companies following them who really managed to raise the technology to new heights. Just think about computer technology. So the military has already taken us into space, and I don't expect them to significantly improve the situation in the near future (at least in terms of solar system exploration/colonization).

-) For exploration/colonization to the moon the technology is already "good enough" imho, we just need all those new and "cheap" methods to transport cargo into orbit that are currently under development/testing by private companies to become operative/available.

-) If we want to really colonize mars, then this would also be achievable with todays technology, but it would be wise to rigorously test all those concepts on the moon first for a couple of years.

Just think about early sailors on earth: they as well needed month to reach their destinations in some cases. BUT they had a strong "need" to go to those far away places. So unless someone comes around with a brilliant business case for mining on mars and is willing and able to pay HUGE amounts of money to workers so that they WANT to spend a few years on mars, I don't see why someone would do that right now. Our society just has no need for something like that (yet).

-) Solar electric propulsion could speed up the travel times to mars but I think this isn't an option for anything beyond - there just isn't enough sunlight at jupiter and beyond.

That brings me to the original topic of the thread: colonization beyond our solar system.
So even for the moons of jupiter (and beyond) we either have to accept the potential dangers of fission reactors (unlikely imho) to power our spacecraft, or we need a new source of energy. The first thing to come into mind is a fusion reactor of course, but even one at the size of a huge building is nowhere "around the corner", so unless someone discovers a completely new way to make them work I doub't that we will see those power any starship in the next 50 years or so.

And even with working fusion reactors we could only achieve a fraction of c for our spaceship, so even the nearest stars would be in the scope of tens of years to reach.
And that, in my opinion, is good enough for unmanned! exploration, but way to slow for colonization.

Of course we could do it, with generation arks or some form of hibernation during the flight, BUT what is the point to expanding into the galaxy without beeing united? Personally I really have to think about "Matrix" when I try to imagine this sort of expansion into space: mankind would really be quite like a galactic virus, if we follow that way.

So my point is: without some breakthrough technology that allows for FTL travel I can't think of a reason why we should even do it?


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