Generation Ships--- Can we build one now? - Page 3
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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nutation View Post
    I wouldn't try it before the various technologies have stabilized (stopped improving). Otherwise, ship #2 passes ship #1 and arrives first.
    Actually, that's also a way to send new supplies and parts, so maybe it's not a show-stopper.
    Generation ships aren't a great option unless you're desperate, for a lot of the reasons mentioned in this thread. Ideally, you want to wait until you've perfected something along the lines of cryogenics/stasis/time-dilation, so that you don't need to deal with the logistics of keeping humans alive and conscious for hundreds of years in space.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nutation View Post
    I wouldn't try it before the various technologies have stabilized (stopped improving). Otherwise, ship #2 passes ship #1 and arrives first.
    Actually, that's also a way to send new supplies and parts, so maybe it's not a show-stopper.
    That would be an interesting premise for a short story - the first great generation ship is launched and 1000 years later arrives on a new planet only to discover that they are late, later colonist arrived 300 years prior and their entire culture of believing they were humanities last hope is now obsolete

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonguez View Post
    That would be an interesting premise for a short story - the first great generation ship is launched and 1000 years later arrives on a new planet only to discover that they are late, later colonist arrived 300 years prior and their entire culture of believing they were humanities last hope is now obsolete
    It has been done. Robert Reed and Stephen Baxter both have short stories along these lines. Alastair Reynolds too IIRC. But, I'm sorry, I can't for the life of me remember the titles.
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  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonguez View Post
    That would be an interesting premise for a short story - the first great generation ship is launched and 1000 years later arrives on a new planet only to discover that they are late, later colonist arrived 300 years prior and their entire culture of believing they were humanities last hope is now obsolete
    I think I remember a Star Trek next Generation story where the Enterprise intercepts an old colony ship.

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    NASA sent up a married couple on one of the last Shuttle flights, and made a point of allocating them some time to be alone together with no other pressing duties.
    Reports on the results of this experiment were of course not made public. Personally, I would not be surprised to find out "Oops, we relaxed and fell asleep" because it was the only break in their busy pre-programmed week long schedule.

    As for generation ships we have to figure out, build, and operate a closed ecosystem (in a stays-put station or asteroid or something) first. The theory looks good, but the practice has a long way to catch up. Maybe my grandchildren will see the ship's keel-laying ceremony.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    It has been done. Robert Reed and Stephen Baxter both have short stories along these lines. Alastair Reynolds too IIRC. But, I'm sorry, I can't for the life of me remember the titles.
    Harry Turtledove as well. They invented ftl after a sublight ship was sent out.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    It has been done. Robert Reed and Stephen Baxter both have short stories along these lines. Alastair Reynolds too IIRC. But, I'm sorry, I can't for the life of me remember the titles.
    I think Larry Niven did this as well. Many of his original Known Space worlds were colonized with generation or sleeper ships, but I vaguely remember one where they took so long that an FTL ship eventually caught up (and his Protector aliens never developed FTL).

  8. #28
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    I think that a generation ship would be possible, given current technology. It would, however, require a massive planet-wide effort to accomplish. We have reasonably good prototyping tech that could be adapted to produce replacement parts for many items. A large enough, segmented biosphere would permit failure of some, with recovery possible from others. Rotational 'gravity' would help to avoid muscle and bone atrophy. Nuclear power for drive, with slow and constant radial acceleration, should be possible at current tech, assuming something more efficient doesn't turn up soon. (Seems the EM drive is a non starter.)

    If you wait for the next big jump in tech then nothing ever gets done.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryujin View Post
    I think that a generation ship would be possible, given current technology. It would, however, require a massive planet-wide effort to accomplish. We have reasonably good prototyping tech that could be adapted to produce replacement parts for many items. A large enough, segmented biosphere would permit failure of some, with recovery possible from others. Rotational 'gravity' would help to avoid muscle and bone atrophy. Nuclear power for drive, with slow and constant radial acceleration, should be possible at current tech, assuming something more efficient doesn't turn up soon. (Seems the EM drive is a non starter.)

    If you wait for the next big jump in tech then nothing ever gets done.
    So I was going to write something similar to this.

    Many people have made good points about how Generation Ships ("GS") aren't feasible from either a technological or an economic perspective, which doesn't necessarily answer the question of whether we could build a GS.

    On the first point, it is definitely the case that the future will provide us better technology with which to build a GS; just like, for example, if the Apollo missions had been postponed until the modern era. But just because the technology will be better, doesn't mean it is completely infeasible today. If we had a similar drive ("We will launch a GS in 20 years,") I am fairly positive it would get done.

    On the second point, yes, it would be a massive undertaking, and not possible with the current budgets of NASA (or any individual country's space agency). But if things were different, if space exploration was a priority in the same way that, say, the Department of Defense was, maybe not. But that's about allocation of resources (and, to be honest, I don't think a a GS would be the best use of space exploration resources).

    Finally, I'm surprised no one commented on this-

    Personally, I am confident we will have a faster than light drive within another century.
    Um, I hope so? I really really hope so?

    But while any sufficiently high technology is indistinguishable from magic, and we don't know what we don't know, that are actual REASONS that we may never travel FTL. I really, really, really don't want that to be the case. But I do not have that confidence.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zardnaar View Post
    No main reason is we don't have a planet we can go to followed by we don't know what the effects of long term exposure to zero/low g would be. IDK if we have artificial gravity.

    It also takes 12 years to get to the edge of the solar system. We would need some sort of nuclear/fusion power, some sort of artifical gravity and a planet that is confirmed that can support human life. Then we would also have to deal with alien microbes if we got there.
    Isn't the whole point of a generation ship to just go out and explore but not necessarily having a destination?

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