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Join Date: Jun 2012
02-08-2013, 04:22 PM
I don't think that information is easily available, Ion propulsion is very much in the research and development stage and labs tend to not be very forthcoming on issues like actual costs to anyone but their board of directors.
I've been going out of my way to be the voice of reason in this discussion even though a huge part of me would love to see such a grand vision take shape. The problem here is that the most practical designs are not pretty, for instance a Bussard ramjet would be most effective for travel where fuel is a constant concern but a gigantic funnel shaped craft does not inspire the imagination. The physical limits that make a space elevator impossible using current technology is equally the limiting factor in building a ship of such massive proportions.
We could build a space station to that scale and with that kind of appearance and with something like that visible in the night sky it might serve the same purpose to inspire, but as a functional ship, we can't do that yet.
That said, advances in physical sciences are occurring on a daily basis, so just because something can't be done today doesn't mean it will be impossible 10/20 years from now.
But it has to be realized that it is very important that we make advances in research and exploration of sufficient intensity that there is a need for a large multipurpose craft cruising the solar system, today we can barely find motivation to return to our own moon let alone venture further.
Our leaders are not visionaries, their sole interest is their own political futures and there is no payoff for them in this venture. Military organizations etc. guard their finances jealously, they would not contribute to something like this unless it had military applications and a project on this scale built for military purposes has frightening ramifications, so basically what's left are commercial interests, if there is money to be made in space then there is reason to venture into it, reason to explore and exploit it. That basis needs to be long established before an interplanetary cruiser could be justifiable. There simply has to be a need for it and right now there isn't one.
All that aside this petition is simply for a feasibility study, it will be interesting if it gets beyond the "Don't call us we'll call you" stage.
Last edited by maxvitor; 02-08-2013 at