Mon, 13 Nov 2000 23:03:35 +0900 (JST)
On Sunday, November 12, 2000 at 02:34:35 PM, email@example.com wrote:
> If the M-I reactor was the first practical fusion system, they'd've had to have
> built the first three Sides, established at least one Lunar colony, moved a
> major asteroid to the Earth Sphere, and emigrated at least five and perhaps as
> many as seven billion people, all without any form of fusion power. Solar
> energy would be cheap and abundant, but thrusters would've been chemical, ionic,
> mass driver, fissionable or fission/fusion impulse devices, not the
> thermonuclear rocket that's become standard by UC 0079.
> I just can't buy that.
Why not? If I remember correctly, G.K. O'Neill's plans to colonize (sp?) space didn't require any major breakthrought in space propulsion technology.
Of course, to move five or seven billion people to space without heavily polluting Earth's atmosphere you need to develop SSTOs whose engines run on LOx and LH only. I think this is only a problem of materials, but NASA's Venture Star is demonstrating it.
Moving an entire asteroid to Earth Sphere is a completely different matter. But, if you reason in terms of total impulse instead of thrust, electric propulsion, like ionic or MHD, could be the best way to do it.
One last thing. Wasn't the Nova engine a thermonuclear rocket engine? It used a fission reactor to heat a working fluid (I don't remember which one); it was meant to replace J1 LOx - LH rockets on Saturn rockets. It was dropped for environment reasons.
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