• TheMadFool
    It's an old story that one of the biggest obstacles to space travel is our primitive technology. Yes, despite space exploration being the most advanced branch of human technology, we still haven't solved the very basic problems of space travel, one of which is how to build a self-sustaining biological environment(SSBE) for space-farers of the future. I suppose if we could construct a spaceship that can replenish oxygen, absorb carbondioxide, recycle the water, and so on and so forth, it would completely revolutionize space travel.

    The way I see it, the answer is hidden in plain sight, it lies right under our noses or, more precisely, under our feet. What exactly is earth, the planets and the sun, taken together? The sun is an almost infinite source of energy, the earth is a system that utilizes this energy to support a self-sustaining air-water-food system, and the other planets are their for us to colonize later on as the sun evolves into a red giant (?). The entire setup seems to be one colossal SSBE - something astronauts can only dream of at the present.

    Is the solar system a giant spaceship? :chin:
  • Frank Apisa
    Certainly seems to be.

    It also is a time machine.
  • Pfhorrest
    The point of building an artificial SSBE is to do all of the stuff that the Earth and Sun do, but in a smaller, more portable form, that can travel.

    The Earth and Sun together definitely do do that already, and they are in space, but they're not very portable.

    Have you not heard the expression "Spaceship Earth" before?
  • TheMadFool
    :up: :smile: Thanks
  • Pfhorrest
    NP :-)

    FWIW, as non-portable as the Earth may be, I expect in the very long run (late life cycle of the Sun) it will be more effective to move the Earth to stay in the changing habitable zone than it will be to make very un-Earth-like bodies sufficiently Earth-like for the people who are accustomed to Earth.

    There is also a lot of engineering that can be done on our starship's engine (the sun) to make it much more efficient and longer-lived. Build a Dyson sphere to harness more of its energy, then star lift it to prolong its life, and build a stellar engine to make it more portable.
  • TheMadFool
    I had some other ideas involving a nuclear reactor, artificial gravity and plants capable of photosynthesis using infra-red EM waves.
  • Outlander

    An interesting concept. So the planet is like a biome powered by a nuclear fusion reactor (the Sun) and presumably it or the larger system is traveling somewhere.

    I think the better question is are we going toward something or fleeing from it? What is it?

    Reminded of a bit of theory I read on another forum. Something about how humans are the only organism that is born utterly helpless and unable to walk. Animals are largely self sufficient or at least able to walk or whatever their mode of travel is pretty quickly. His theory was this allows us to adapt to whatever gravity we happen to be subject to at the time. Think about it..
  • 180 Proof
    We're gaianauts not astronauts. Not even "astronauts" are actual astronauts. Ad astra ex machina? :nerd:

    ... we still haven't solved the very basic problems of space travel, one of which is how to build a self-sustaining biological environment(SSBE) for space-farers of the future.TheMadFool
    I disagree that "SSBE" is "one of the very basic problems of space travel". It's an advanced problem and only matters once the following "basic problems" are solved:

    (A) space elevator (or space hook) to lower $ cost to "pennies per kilo" per launch to low earth orbit (LEO)

    (B) relativistic propulsion systems for intra-stellar and inter-stellar transits (e.g. Alcubierre drive)

    (C) fuelless energy generation (e.g. Bussard ramjet)

    (D) effective long-duration solar & cosmic rays radiation shielding (e.g. hollow asteroid spaceship)

    (E) effective shielding @ relativistic velocities for "dust" & micro-meteorite impacts shielding (e.g. hollow asteroid spaceship)

    And as I suggested here


    Btw, deep space travel is for machines -- the tinier the better -- Von Neumann self-replicating/nano-fabricators, and not living organisms (e.g. hard radiation exposure is too lethal, transport size increases likelihood of hazardous particulate impacts, life-support limitations & extreme durations between destinations, etc) which exponentially compound the costs/risks.
    — 180 Proof, 3-12-07
    "SSBE" probably is, or will be, irrelevant. The only scenario that makes sense - given the hazards of space to the integrity of complex organic molecules, let alone vastly more complex organisms, and the light-year scales of distances & durations from here to any other star system (or even to farthest edge of Oort Cloud (c50k au)) - is to send advance robotic probes and autonomous AI-ships as extensions of Terrestrial intelligence into interstellar space and then eventually across the Milky Way galaxy. Such AI-ships could carry genomic information that could be 'compiled like programs' into comparable organic DNA-like materials within non-terrestrial biospheres to "seed" homo sapiens 'templates' throughout the galaxy in order for them to adapt to xeno-ecologies and evolve beyond their distant ancestrial-terrestrial species. These AI-"seed" ships might even discover, millennia in the future, the "alien AI-ships" which might have once "seeded" earth with proto-hominids. :gasp:
  • Kenosha Kid

    (A) is a question of cost. We can get living humans to wherever a space elevator might go, it just ain't cheap.
    (B) - (C) is a question of time, linked to the problem of keeping humans alive in transit, and without (B), (E) disappears.
    In short, if we could put pregnant human females into stasis indefinitely, we only have to tackle (D). Now we're probably more than halfway there on that one: we've already sent a probe out of the solar system.

    A more workable solution is, once we've solved the indefinite stasis problem, to send out a great number of such vessels. Sure, most of them will be destroyed, some will go off course, some will have failures in the stasis system, but we only need one, right? So take a statistical approach! And, if it seems misogynistic to sacrifice so many women, bear in mind I'm all but ensuring that the first non-terrestrial human civilisation will be a matriarchy. Though if we forgot to send seeds to the destination several hundred years earlier, it might be a short-lived cannibal matriarchy, but what a movie!
  • ssu
    The only scenario that makes sense - is to send advance robotic probes and the autonomous AI-ships as extensions of Terrestrial intelligence into interstellar space and then eventually across the Milky Way galaxy.180 Proof
    Even if 180 Proof is here talking about interstellar space, I have to add that this "not making sense" argument has been used against any human exploration of space. We are intended for Earth, so let machines take care of things anywhere else.

    That humans even bothered to go to the Moon is something out of the normal. Even if we would have the technology, there's actually not the desire.
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