Re: [gundam] Civilian Space Travel

Mark Simmons (
Wed, 31 Mar 1999 16:48:49 -0800

Probe writes,

> Right, but they do need to periodically refuel on reaction mass (or
>something). I believe this caused some problems in 0083, right?

  Yep. The Federation fleet pursuing the runaway colony burns up all its
propellant trying to overtake it, and doesn't have enough left to break
lunar orbit and continue the pursuit when the colony changes course. In
other words, they must have followed a high-acceleration "brute force"
trajectory rather than a fuel-conserving, two-day course.

>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.

  This should certainly be possible with this type of engine; it's just a
question of whether the engine is designed to allow extra propellant
dumping, as opposed to having some sort of regulated pump. If you wanted to
add this option, it should be fairly trivial to engineer.

>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!)

  Yep. More to the point, it seems to produce pretty low thrust relative to
the engine size; Axis has these huge engines, but you don't see it pulling
multi-gee manuevers. For colonies, asteroids, and energy transport ships,
which typically travel for months or years without refueling, the advantage
of fuel efficiency trumps the drawback of low thrust.

> 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!

  And launching other countries' satellites is one of the few sources of
income they have right now... ;-)

> 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).

  And in the meantime, we can't look to O'Neill's limitless power from the
heavens to save us...

> 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?

  Here's a link to the article, from the March 21 Sunday paper. It's called
SELENE, and it's being developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
researchers and some outfit called Bennett Optical Research.


-- Mark

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