Re: [gundam] Civilian Space Travel


Prabal Nandy (nandy@U.Arizona.EDU)
Wed, 31 Mar 1999 17:14:54 +6500 (MST)


> efficiency." Better engines enable more aggressive flight patterns, which
> is why we presume that in emergencies Gundam warships might be able to get
> about the Earth sphere faster than the propellant-conserving spacecraft of
> today.

  Right, but they do need to periodically refuel on reaction mass (or
something). I believe this caused some problems in 0083, right? I think it
may be possible for them to 'afterburn', i.e., dump extra reaction mass
for extra thrust at lower efficiency in emergency situations.

> But by the same token, the heated water (or whatever) can simply be
> sprayed out of the back end of the spacecraft to create a working rocket.
> This is the technique used in Gundam, and it's significantly more efficient

  Yepper! And water is just so darned USEFUL for other things too!

> >But there was this idea to detonate _nukes_ to propel a spacecraft...
> Yep, and this "nuclear pulse propulsion" is used in Gundam as well. In
> essence, you spit teeny fusion fuel pellets out of the back of the vessel,
> then use lasers to crush the pellets and trigger a brief fusion reaction.

  This is the SHIVA system... the nuclear-bomb thrust project was called
"PLUTO" if I remember correctly and was technically similar even if it was
in practice a completely different idea. The fusion-pellet system in
gundam I am under the impression was only used for colony engines and
stuff like that though, right? (I.e., it's BIG and bulky!)

> blast backwards, but since Gundam's helium-3 fusion yields no neutral
> particles, you should be able to do most of this with magnetic fields.

  Of course, you'd need a helluvallotta electrical power to pull this off.

> system is used to move asteroids, Jupiter energy fleet vessels, and other
> large, slow-moving objects for which rapid acceleration is less important
> than fuel efficiency.
 
  Makes sense! Probably for things like Angel Halo too!

> Actually, I saw a news item the other day about Russian scientists who
> warn that chemical rocket engines are destroying the ozone layer (what with
> all these satellite launches), so space travel may be ecologically unsound
> any way you look at it.

  Nitrides and other rocket residues are punching little holes in the
layer, but this has been known for _decades_. The Russians have just been
making the biggest messes. Kerosene rockets (Spit) how primitive!

> researchers who plan to beam energy _up_ to satellites - apparently, solar
> panel arrays are too fragile and vulnerable to damage from orbiting junk.

  Solar power, frankly, sucks in space. Those panels are ALWAYS screwing
up!

> If this is really the wave of the future, it's the death knell to Gerard
> O'Neill's dream, in which orbiting satellites would beam cheap solar power
> down to an energy-starved Earth, rather than vice versa...

  Yeah, that's never going to happen. Frankly, lack-of-energy is not our
problem on Earth, the foolishly Idealistic 50's and 60's with their fancy
schmantzy toster ovens and stomach pumps could never realize what their
decades of abusing the environment would do for future generations.
Microwave power indeed. If people would stop sucking down microwave
burritos and tossed plastic salads the world would be a much safer, more
biodegradable place (scowl).

> By the way, these researchers plan to use lasers rather than microwaves
> for energy transmission. The idea is to set up a huge Solar System-style
> grid on the ground, and focus the transmission on the satellite; in
> between, the beam would be too diffused to hurt anyone. This mechanism too
> is the opposite of O'Neill's, which had a small microwave transmitter on
> the satellite and a huge receiving array on the ground.

  Yes.. hmm... something sounds a little fishy here... especially since I
haven't been told anything about this and it's very close to some stuff
we're working on here. Where did you hear about this?

                                                                -Probe

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