propulsion

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Bezzle, Jan 20, 2000.

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  1. Bezzle Registered Senior Member

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    There are many promising new forms of propulsion such as: Fusion, old school nuclear, Antimatter, and solar sails.
    but which one do you guys think is the most promising for the 21st century and for the colinization and exploration of space?


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  3. Bezzle Registered Senior Member

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    Ah yes and if any of you have read the red mars trilogy by kim stanley Robinson you should know about the space elevator. if ou haven't read about it the space elevator is a long carbon filament coil made from the minerals in an asteroid, and used to keep space ships from having to enter a planets atmosphere by instead docking with a space station at the tip of the coil and unloading or uploading cargo which is in turn brought down to the earth in a number of elevator cars the size of hotels.

    I think that this device is an excellent plan and an absolute necessity for both mars and earth and that we should began constructing one soon.

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  5. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    <img src = "http://users.esc.net.au/~nitro/BBoard_member_gifs/bowser_anim.gif">Fusion and Solar Sails. That's my guess. Fision is too dirty and Ant-matter is beyond the 21st century.

    I have no thought on the orbiting space station thing. That doesn't sound practicle to me, but what do I know. It's anybody's guess.

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  7. Ivan Kruk Registered Senior Member

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    Hi,

    Do you remember well-known experiments, which was made some years ago. It was a „nuclear fusion”, performed in a glass of heavy water during electrolysis on platinum electrode. The whole matter finished nothing, but I think that there is something in the way.
    I think that our future source of energy will base on nuclear fusion made with the help of some kinds of catalysts, which allow us to perform the fusion in controlled way.

    Ivan

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  8. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    Ivan,

    <img src = "http://users.esc.net.au/~nitro/BBoard_member_gifs/bowser_anim.gif">I remember the news around that experiment. Two scientist claimed that they had initiated fusion from a chemical reaction; however, nobody else has been able to reproduce the same results from the same experiment. As a result, it was discredited.

    The last I read was that these two scientist who made the claim also gained a patent for the process. I believe the Japanese made a large investment in further studies of this process.

    As for the future, I too believe that fusion will be the next energy source to power our lights, but I doubt that there is enough energy in a chemical reation to start, much less maintain, fusion.


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  9. thirdmac Registered Member

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    I WOULD SAY THAT THE NEXT BIG TECHNOLOGICAL BREAKTHROUGH FOR TRAVEL WOULD BE MATTER TRANSMISSION BY REPLICATION . NASA IS EXPERIMENTING WITH NANODE TECHNOLOGY AT THIS TIME .

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  10. dexter ROOT Registered Senior Member

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    well well well...... bezzle is back after i convinced him... and the elevator doesnt sound like a good idea to me... what about orbiting space trash, our satalites already have this problem........

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  11. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    thirdmac,

    <img src = "http://users.esc.net.au/~nitro/BBoard_member_gifs/bowser_anim.gif"><font color = "red">"...MATTER TRANSMISSION BY REPLICATION..."</font>

    That sounds way beyond any that we might see in our near future. Explain and share a URL, please.



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  12. Dido Registered Senior Member

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    Perhaps antimatter propulsion isn't beyond the 21st century. Physicist Gerald Smith is doing some very pioneering work into the development of harnessing it. At the moment he is creating antihydrogen, until sufficient levels of antimatter can be produced, and we can learn how to properly control it. Although not nearly mastered for propulsion it does seem the best bet. However at the current accelerative rate at which science is reaching out into space, who knows? Perhaps by the middle of this century we could be well on the way to interstellar travel....or at least understanding the principles of it. I have this feeling that our understanding of the cosmos is about to spiral, hopefully in control.

    If only we could hear some of 7of9's knowledge of antimatter annihilation for the purposes of propulsion!!!.....uummmmmmm.
     
  13. FyreStar Faithless since 1980 Registered Senior Member

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    Bezzle -
    As far as propulsion goes, I would say that nuclear power is probably our best bet for now. Antimatter is currently replicated in quantities far to small to sustain some sort of powered drive. Of course, new techniques may develop in time, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Solar sails can be useful, but only for a certain distance from the sun, as the amount of light received varies inversely with the square of the distance from the sun. After a certain point it would be like trying to push a schooner with a housefan. I've heard of the 'elevator' idea before, but that is implausible for the 21st century. Construction would be immensely difficuly, and the station and filiment would face many hazards in staying operational. For now, I think low-cost earth to orbit cargo transports would be more feasible.
    Nuclear power would be better than fusion, especially for long term missions, simply because the payload is less.

    Of course, if physicists develop a way to generate large amounts of negative energy, a whole new branch of travelling systems could open up. (Like above, however, don't hold your breath

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    FyreStar
     
  14. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    FS,

    <img src = "http://users.esc.net.au/~nitro/BBoard_member_gifs/bowser_anim.gif">Fission is too dirty, as I said. People just won't stand for that stuff being tossed into orbit.

    <font color = "red">"Solar sails can be useful, but only for a certain distance from the sun, as the amount of light received varies inversely with the square of the distance from the sun. After a certain point it would be like trying to push a schooner with a housefan."</font>

    That makes sense. I never considered the limitations. Don't you think this method would be appropriate for Mars missions?

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  15. FyreStar Faithless since 1980 Registered Senior Member

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    Bezzle -
    I don't know the actual power absorbtion and usage ratios, so this is a guess, but I think using solar sails for a Mars mission would be feasible. Mars and Earth are close enough that a ship in Earth orbit would receive about 2.32 times as much light as a ship in Mars orbit. Assuming the designers can account for that difference, which wouldn't be too difficult if they had Earth based solar-sailing-ships operational, a Mars mission wouldn't be out of our reach. If we went much farther than that, however, I doubt we could draw enough power from the Sun. A ship in Jupiter orbit would be able to draw roughly 27 times less energy from the sun, and a ship in the vicinity of Pluto would draw about 1600 times less. So, without onboard systems that draw extremely small amounts of power, sails become useless quickly.

    As I said, I'm not familiar with the power ratios, but I'm sure you could find such information online somewhere.

    FyreStar
     
  16. Boris Senior Member Registered Senior Member

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    No, no, no, no. Solar sails are <u>definitely NOT</u> the way to go planet-hopping. They may be fuel-efficient, but nerve-wrackingly slow. It would literally take <u>years</u> for a solar sail to get up to any decent speed. By then, even a chemical rocket could complete several roundtrips between Mars and Earth. Solar sails would be nice for deep-space missions. One way to sidestep the problem of dimming sun at large distances, is to construct a powerful laser array either on Earth or on the Moon, and bounce the beam(s) off the sail. Since laser light is collimated, it will lose virtually no power even over many AUs.

    But personally, I think fusion will be the next big thing (as soon as we figure out how to accomplish it.) Heavy hydrogen is a much cheaper fuel than antimatter; yet it still gives a hell of a bang for the pound.

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  17. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    Boris,

    <font color = "red">"One way to sidestep the problem of dimming sun at large distances, is to construct a powerful laser array either on Earth or on the Moon, and bounce the beam(s) off the sail. Since laser light is collimated, it will lose virtually no power even over many AUs."</font>

    <img src = "http://users.esc.net.au/~nitro/BBoard_member_gifs/bowser_anim.gif"> That is an idea. Is it yours, Boris. Where did you read this? It sounds familiar.



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  18. Boris Senior Member Registered Senior Member

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    Bowser,

    Oh no, it's not my idea. I wish it was, but somebody beat me to it.

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    I saw it in quite a few places, with the most recent being a program on TLC.

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  19. Boris Senior Member Registered Senior Member

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    Everybody,

    I've just chanced onto a really cool NASA presentation about their propulsion research, goals, etc. Very nicely laid out and explained, with lots of sweet illustrations. Check it out <A HREF="http://stp.msfc.nasa.gov/astp/library/5527_Fla_AIAA.pdf">here</A>. (You'll need an Adobe Acrobat plugin. And actually, I recommend "saving as" the .pdf file onto your hard drive, starting up Acrobat Reader outside of your browser, and opening the file. The viewing will be much smoother that way.)

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  20. Sprout Registered Member

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    I would have to agree with Boris on the fact that Solar Sails are not going to be the "wave of the future". First off it does take too long to pick up speed, but second, how about the return trip to Earth from Mars or other outer planets? Would you not first have to venture further away from the sun and work out a trajectory that would eventually use gravity of other planets to whip you back in a direction towards the earth? I don't have a total understanding of the solar sail, but I think travel would tend to be with the solar wave rather than against it. This is where it would apply to deep space missions because at least you would have a star to send you back in the right direction.

    Something nobody ever seems to mention anymore when dealing with space travel is the classic Ram Jet from, if I remember correctly, the Isaac Asimov legacy?

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    Sprout
     
  21. Boris Senior Member Registered Senior Member

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    Sprout,

    check out the NASA brochure I've referenced above. It mentions the ramjet along with a few other cool ideas.

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  22. FyreStar Faithless since 1980 Registered Senior Member

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    Boris -
    I agree that solar sails would not be the choice for missions such as cargo runs.. however, not all missions will be just back and forth to Mars, and not all will benefit from increased speed. After all, it data gathering missions or more advanced types of satellites need not travel as fast as out technology will allow. We also need to consider cost.
    As far as lasers go, actually managing to hit the sails would be extraordinarily difficult, especially from the earth. The moon may work slightly better, but to have any chance of hitting their target, they would most likely need a power station in orbit(For many of the same reasons why the HST is superior to larger ground based telescopes). Something as far out as 3 AUs would need to be thousands of meters wide to range as much as an arcsecond.

    FyreStar
     
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